Do you need a reason to Orienteer?

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All of us have days where we wake up uninspired.  Right?  Sometimes, I just don’t feel like moving.  One of the best ways for me to remember why I do what I do for a living is to watch one of my hundreds of orienteering videos.  I make maps and teach orienteering.  Some days, I feel like I should just get one of those jobs where I can show up, do my work and get paid.  I wouldn’t have to create and trouble shoot and market my business.

And then I watch something like this: NOT JUST RUNNING  I feel the emotion, excitement and heavy breathing that it requires to focus hard and long on a map while navigating the terrain.  Weather doesn’t matter.  Time doesn’t matter.  You are just doing your best and enjoying being able to participate…..at any level.

I remember why I started Ultimate Treasure Hunts, LLC.  I want to show everyone what it feels like to challenge yourselves with the hide and seek game at any level.  I love to watch 7 year old students run around their school playground and be proud of themselves for finding what I have hidden for them. They make it to the end feeling like the winners that they are.

I love to support the corporate groups using a sophisticated map of a town rely on each other for different pieces of the challenge and move forward.  They all win, really, though they are trying to beat each other.  That is the nature of the sport.  Orienteering brings out the best in you.

So, if you are sitting on the couch feeling like your days of  physical commitment are behind you, just google orienteering and watch what comes up on You Tube.  You may find yourself lacing up your sneakers and running on a trail.  Or call us.  We will create an experience that you will never forget.  I call it a treasure hunt, but it is so much more than that.  Orienteering is so much more than running.

orienteering girl

 

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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

TREASURE HUNTS IN SCHOOLS

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A treasure hunt on a detailed and accurate map is an early lesson in orienteering. In Sweden, where orienteering is the national sport, hundreds of lessons for different skills and abilities become the framework for mandatory curriculum implementation. The national geographic Society has developed a roper Poll that is used every three years to determine international skills and abilities with maps. Sweden is at the top and American students are somewhere near the bottom. It is no coincidence.

Treasure Chest Peaks Island School bw

The object of an orienteering treasure hunt is for the entire group to find the key to the treasure chest. It starts with a fun, musical introduction with instructions about maps and how to ‘read’ a map. A room that comfortably seats everyone is the best way to start. Two classrooms can sit together in a regular sized room, and an all purpose room, a cafeteria or a gym is best for large groups. A large poster sized map is shown to make sure everyone understands the legend and how their school grounds are depicted. There is a lot of energy in the crowd as they get excited to get their maps and get started. Kids move in groups and work together to locate clues that will help them to discover the key. It is not a competition as everyone will find every clue. Maps provide a unique template for everyone to learn and have fun on.

It is not a scavenger hunt! They are not finding clues because they stumble across them or have decoded a verbal clue to take them to a place. They are looking at a map, turning it so it is a birds’-eye-view, and determining where to go next. Each group focuses on their own mission. To ‘watch’ or ‘follow’ another group would deter them from their task and right off, it becomes clear that what other groups are doing won’t help their team. They may even follow a group to a clue at the start, like people do, and feel like they gained something, yet when they look at their map, again, they discover that they aren’t sure where they are on the map. They have a new discussion and the followed group is gone. There is a wonderful analogy to following people without considering what is best for yourself that kids grasp because it is relevant to this game. It useful when they are pre-teens and need a thoughtful discussion about peers, too. All of the typical judgments of that age group: popularity, grades, money, sports, etc, also drop away as the focus of the hunt become their shared goal. Each person is important.

For K-3, the relevance of spatial awareness, observational skills and working together become paramount as they look around the area and find themselves on the map. They become more and more confident on the map as they actually find the clues and feel success. We have the kids pass the map to another group member at each clue so that everyone has a turn to lead. In smaller groups of 2-3, we have them each have a map, yet must stay together.

Once the clues are found; sweaty, happy, little treasure hunters return to the chest to see what to do next. There is a lot of noise as they describe how they found their clues and tell funny little stories. It can be completed outside or inside depending on the schools schedule and the size of the group. Any bit of light competition dissolves as they realize that each team’s information is needed to solve the puzzle and help them find the key. When they find the key, there is a unified squeal of success and they know the treasure is about to be revealed. The school is responsible for the treasure. It does not need to be of high monetary value. We see little bracelets, pencils, fruit snacks, ice cream vouchers for later, tootsie rolls (gluten free), and little sewn pirate bags of goodies from the parents.

As students become more proficient and confident on a map, using maps of the schools both inside and outside, the area and detail is expanded. Difficulty should be increased in small amounts so that all kids stay confident and wanting more. It isn’t true that some of us are navigationally challenged. What is true is that our early introduction to maps was neither easy nor fun enough. The treasure hunt leaves them ready for another map game because it is fun and rewarding as they grow a little bit more confident each time. The use of compass is obvious when they have no features to help navigate. Schoolyard maps teach them how to use all resources around them. In the US, navigation lessons have descended from our military to the scouts to teachers. Using a compass to triangulate or determine degrees for taking a bearing isn’t about the map! So, hold off on that compass and make sure kids love maps. Facilitate treasure hunts, relays, SCRABBLE-O, Time Line-O, Motalas, map making, and a plethora of other map games. Students will never be lost adults but will be leaders, instead!

Can you find it??

antique key 13

Massachusetts Phys Ed Conference 2013

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champions

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