Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Mindworx and cunning running

Last week, I presented the sport of orienteering ( to 270 children, in 12 classes, aged 8-12 at a local school. This is a sport that I have participated in for many years and the presentation was part of a 4-day programme (called Mindworx), which the school hosts every 2-years. The children do all kinds of activities like t-shirt painting, candle making, obstacle courses, owl watching - a good combination of crafts, activities and animal awareness. I first got involved with this programme in 2005 when I was recruited via my mom's friend's daughter, whose children attend the school.

There were two elements from the week that stood out for me:
  1. An overweight boy, in one of my first classes on Day 1, completed the course in second place... the teacher commented to me that he doesn't get involved in any sports.
  2. Another teacher, who is involved with athletics coaching, was astounded to see the children running all over the school grounds, map in hand, looking for the controls. She mentioned that she can't get these children to run on the athletics track.
Why was I so successful in getting these energetic children to run? Orienteering is FUN and looking for controls distracts from the actual activity of running. It's a winner.

My attraction to presenting this activity at this primary school is not just the satisfaction of seeing these children enjoying a sport that I so enjoy; I love the letters. At the end of each day the children have to write letters to their favourie presenter from that day. Their letters and orienteering illustrations are fabulous and they'll keep me coming back every two years.

I did encourage the children to make contact if they want to continue with the sport and attend our regular events. Many were keen to have orienteering as their birthday party activity (I had no idea these birthday parties were so intensive! Parents evidently spend a bucket on all kinds of entertainment). The good news is that a mother phoned last week and last night, the dad of one of the boys called.

The father and son duo will be coming to the next O event. I have my eye on this young chap, Dylan. He is focused, competitive and he can run and map read; you can't ask for a better candidate. At the school the children have the advantage of knowing the grounds, so I expect that Dylan will find the event next weekend a little more challenging. I'm looking forward to meeting up with them and observing as they both discover this sport.

I am also quite envious of Dylan... I only got involved with orienteering 8-years ago at the age of 23. Dylan is 11 or 12. If only I'd discovered it then.... better late than never eh?
So, all in all this year's Mindworx programme was a rewarding experience and I hope to cultivate a new orienteerer or three.

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