Massachusetts Phys Ed Conference 2013

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Visit us at MAHPERD  next Monday and Tuesday to learn about how you can have orienteering in your school and community.


How do map and navigation games benefit groups?

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At first glance, an orienteering based Treasure Hunt appears as just another game. Music and fun are part of the introduction and the groups are tasked to find the key to the locked treasure chest. And if they do find that key, they will get treasure! It is a hard challenge to resist at any age or ability. A bit of light competition appears instantly, but it is not a race. An orienteering challenge in the guise of a treasure hunt crosses boundaries of ethnicity, life experience, academic ability, age, gender and personality. Kids help kids. Parents help kids. Kids help parents. New faces are integrated. Everyone wins.

Groups that do not often problem solve together in a fun atmosphere; office mates, students, and parents/kids all provide perfect examples of demographics that benefit from success while working together, learning something new, and being rewarded for their efforts.

An accurate and highly detailed map for the team to navigate with will bring out skills and abilities that highlight perception and spatial awareness. Team members unfamiliar with the campus or area will very quickly be comfortable and aware in a way that a tour cannot create. They are looking for a clue. They have to pay attention.

Questions and trivia that are light and simple provide an opportunity for participants to contribute to solving the final puzzle. Some clues are directed at younger members. Some clues are directed at the parents. The metaphor emerges very quickly that success requires everyone’s ability and everyone has something to contribute.
Running for Treasure

An orienteering treasure hunt also brings a group outside to walk and be physical. Kinesthetic learning happens naturally as they navigate a campus together, talk about the hunt and stay as a group. The weather may not perfectly cooperate and it becomes an adventure.

In the finale, it is quickly apparent that no one team will win, but rather all teams must come together to find the key. They are all winners. Everyone will receive a small reward to acknowledge their participation and the sharing of stories begins. Who found which clue? Who knew the right answer? Where did you get confused and how did you solve it? Who said that funny thing? I didn’t know you knew that song!

We now have a common experience. You can’t beat that!

Winter Team Building in Cambridge, MA

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So you think it is too cold out? How about hand warmers, bright orange hats, and inside clues to keep groups happy?
A major pharmaceutical company participated in an Ultimate Treasure Hunt last week for a fun break and a celebration of a successful 2010.

GPS brought them to locations to find clues. Text messages were sent and automatic responses gave them more hints. Maps and puzzles brought them together for fun and camaraderie.

Come to Harvard Square’s Chocolate Festival January 28, 29 and 30We are creating a public hunt for all!

Why our schools need Map, Orienteering and Navigation Programs

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Can your students use a map?  Can they use ANY map and not just topography maps?  There are mall maps, road maps, building maps, life maps and an infinite number of ways to display relationships of objects to other objects that can be deciphered by the user.  Those are all maps. Games and activities that make maps fun are the best way to introduce navigation.

Orienteering, the use of a map to find flags in the landscape,  enhances decision making, problem solving, spatial awareness, communication, memory, self confidence, love of fitness and a list of other applicable life skills.  And it is not about the compass though many teachers approach me with their case of compasses and ask for lessons in orienteering.

If every school had a map based program that expanded from Kindergarten through graduation and beyond, they would find opportunities to build in any subject material, health, and community.  Sweden, where orienteering has mandatory curriculum lesson plans, knows all about the full integration of Orienteering.  Kindergarten students can make a landscape in their sandbox and draw their interpretation of that on paper. High school students download GIS data to field check the campus and render a computer draft of a map to set up public events on.  And there is everything in between.

Orienteering team building grows relationships and acceptance as the cooperative groups move through activities towards success.  New students learn about campuses while having fun and getting to know each other.  Exams can be studied for as correct choices on a map will get you to the finish.  Kinesiology and body memory enhance the lesson.  Students with unique learning styles and lesser mobility are included.

Why wouldn’t you want Orienteering in your school?

Ski Orienteering

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Map and Compass games do not take a break for winter.  If you have tried Orienteering on foot through the forest then you know the basics: use a map and a compass to locate markers (controls).  For Ski-O, most of the controls are along groomed trails.  It seems simple enough to follow a map along trails to reach the controls, but savvy course setters will make sure participants have route choice options that make shortcuts inevitable if they are competitive.

Skate or Classic?  Everyone knows that given the right conditions, Skate Skiing is faster, yet there are conditions and maps that would be better overcome with waxing and bushwhacking.  Why don’t you bundle yourself up for an event and find out?

If you are in New Hampshire, check out

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Vermont is hosting the championships this year 

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