North American Orienteering Championships in New Hampshire 2016

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Every two years, the biggest orienteering competition in North America lands in the skilled hands of US orienteers.  And this year, it is coming to our little neck of the woods. I say coming as if it just arrives and we have some fun, when actually, it is a lot of work for many  individuals.  It takes years to make the maps, set up courses, register all those forest runners and tie up all the loose ends.


ken 5

Check out this article in Dartmouth’s Alumni Magazine:

Over the River and Through the Woods

JESSICA FEDIN ’17 | SEPT – OCT 2016
The sport of orienteering, a.k.a. Tiedustelujuoksue, returns to its North American birthplace.
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Minecraft or Zombie Themed Treasure Hunt?

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You missed it.  The nine year old kids were running around the neighborhood shooting Nerf pellets at the paper Zombie targets.  Their map was marked with caches that held more ammunition. They scanned the ground for antidote to stuff in their sacks. They heard a distant (50 meters) blast from my horn and ran back to the safety zone for more instruction and another map.  They needed more clues to open the locked treasure chest.

zombie poster

The next day, in another town in the seacoast area of New Hampshire, I dropped blue/green glass stones around the houses of a small neighborhood.  Kids used my hand made map of the area to find clues and Ender Pearls.  They carried foam swords to fend off the Ender Dragons.  They were chased by Creepers (teenagers) and laughed as they hid behind a neighbor’s fence.  Their goal was to find enough Pearls to open the Portal.
Minecreaft Sword

No matter how you play it, though, it is all about the map.  These kids are learning to use a map with confidence while working together towards a common goal.  It isn’t a competition.  It isn’t a race.  It is fun and exciting and they are motivated by treasure, just like the rest of us.  Some may squirm with the idea of guns and swords, but it isn’t any different than cowboys and Indians, in the kids’ minds. They are playing, running outside and making friends.

Ultimate Treasure Hunts, LLC, likes to have fun and be creative. We can take your idea and turn into a treasure hunt.  Call us at 603 772 8772 and plan your fun day!

Using Trail Maps To Create A Ski Orienteering Course

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Orienteering games are fun for everyone.  Activities can be set up using the floor plan in a school or municipal center when the weather is not so great for being outside.  The goal of organizing a fun activity using maps is to have the participants gain confidence figuring out where they are and how to get where they want to go. Orienteering provides a unique lesson for focusing on what one is doing rather than what everyone around them is doing. The first step, though, is the map.  It’s gotta be real.

Waterville Valley’s Nordic Center, in Waterville, NH, hosted a Family Fun Weekend featuring orienteering and treasure hunts on skis.  We were asked to set up a course on their trail map.  They assured us that we wouldn’t need to invest the time in mapping as they had ‘GPSed’ the trails and we could simply hang our controls and put the circles on the map.

Well, I wish it was that simple. The thing about orienteering maps is they need to be adjusted to magnetic north, have a usable scale, and they need to describe all trails and nuances in the landscape.  If the participants venture out to find their controls and the trails don’t match what is on the paper, they will be frustrated.  They will find very little satisfaction in completing the course.  It is important to fix the trail map before you call it an orienteering course.

Trail map adjustedaerial view white course

I use OCAD software to make maps, but you can adjust a trail map in other types of drawing software.  Here is how you can do it:

  1. Go out on the trail map and find magnetic north with a compass.  Stand at an obvious road junction.  Hold a compass in front of you and determine a straight line between you and another object on the map.  Sometimes it is a bend in the road, building or trail head.
  2. Back at the computer, open the software and open a digital version of the trail map. Use that magnetic line that you just made and rotate the map until the the line is parallel with the printed edge of the map.
  3. Go to Google Earth and find the map location.  Go to the top of the page and turn back the history dial until an aerial image is revealed that shows a leaf-off version so you can see the roads and buildings.  Use the line drawing tool in Google Earth to measure a 100 meter line between two convenient objects.  You can pick buildings, parking lots, edges of vegetation or other definitive spots that you will be able to find in the real world. I also make a 500 meter line.  Export that view to your editing software.
  4. Open that saved image in your editing software.  Open the digital version of the trail map in a transparent layer so you can see the Google image through it and adjust the trail map to fit.  Now, both maps will print to magnetic north.  Great.
  5. Now, draw all of the objects that you see on the aerial view onto the trail map layer. Include all buildings, parking lots, vegetation changes, and water features.  When all of that tracing is complete, print the map and take a walk.  You need walk the entire map and hand draw all of the features that weren’t on the Google image.  People are constantly changing the landscape.  Or there may have been conifer coverage of areas and a building didn’t show on the computer that you need to draw.  Walk the trails.  Make sure you indicate small trails and snow shoe routes that aren’t on the trail map. They will matter to the ski orienteering youth that comes to a junction and wants to be sure which way to turn.
  6. Now you will need to resolve the scale.  That 100 meter line you made in Google Earth works to determine the distance between real world objects on the map.  Determine what area you really need to print.  Don’t print the entire area if you are making a couple of short, easy courses.

Of course, this is a simplified version of the process.  You can email me info@ultimatetreasurehunts.com with more questions.  I am more than happy to come to you to create a map for your event.  We have maps across the country in schools, public parks and private venues that are still being used to facilitate fun, family activities that educate and enhance any outing.

It really is okay to get lost.  Figuring it out is the lesson. ultimatetreasurehunts   #uthunts

Treasure Hunt Birthday Parties Are Team Building Activities For Kids!

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So, your child’s birthday is approaching.  You look through the parenting magazines and local papers to find an entertaining activity.  Maybe you can get your child’s friends to a museum or to an indoor entertainment center. You know your daughter’s best friend’s parents will help you drive them. The kids will have fun. But will it be memorable? Hmmmm… How about a mall scavenger hunt?  Wait.  How do you supervise them? Who has the time to figure out where they will go and what they will do? Maybe the science parties are a good idea.  They are educational.  You won’t need to drive them anywhere. The kids sit in a circle and watch the young scientist perform.  They aren’t actually moving around much but they are learning.  How can you do something unique and memorable? It would be great to get the kids to interact and get to know the kids that aren’t necessarily in your daughter’s class. How about an Ultimate Treasure Hunts’ lively activity?  Kids run around in a supervised area while learning ad working together to solve a puzzle.  Everyone wins.  #uthunts   #ultimatetreasurehunts  #birthdaypartygame

We go to homes and venues all over the seacoast of New Hampshire and Maine, all around Boston and the North Shore.  We even travel to New York City to facilitate safe, interactive, exciting, physical and educational treasure hunts for all sized groups and every age.

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Winter is fun for everyone!  Weather has never stopped us.  We come, first, to make the map.  It can be inside or outside or anywhere you like.  We go home and design the hunt to fit the age of the kids.  Mixed ages are great as they can work together to solve the final puzzle.  We have many themes or will create one to fit your child’s preferences.

Call us, today, for a great party! info@ultimatetreasurehunts.com   603 772 8772  We travel!!

National Orienteering Competition Returns To New Hampshire

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Every two years, orienteers from around North America and across the ocean, return to the rocky terrain of New Hampshire and run around our woods.  On Columbus Day weekend, 2015, Up North Orienteers hosted the event at The Harris Center for Conservation in Hancock, NH.  Intense rain in the days before the competitors arrived brought wet forests and deeper streams.  The fall colors and heavily laden apple trees created a stunning back drop for the 250 runners that came to the event.

Anyone can participate in this activity at any level.  Beginners are always welcome and encouraged to try it out.  Club members volunteer their time to make sure everyone’s needs are accommodated for difficulty and length of courses and snacks at the end.

The GO control                   Eva And Alar                   Aanika                   Cadets