Thursday 8 August 2013

I survived - school orienteering

I survived - and thoroughly enjoyed - my four days of orienteering activities at Sacred Heart College. I got to share a taste of orienteering with close on 350 children ranging in age from seven to 12/13.

The classes that most terrified me going into this were the Grade 1s and Grade 2s - I haven't got much experience with little ones and the Grade 1 and Grade 2 boys that I know are orienteering children so they can hardly be considered 'normal'. Orienteering children can be tossed into a forest and they happily make their way back.

First activity - coloured cones, to teach map orientation. I set out four of these grids so that there weren't too many children at each grid.
These youngsters turned out to be an absolute pleasure. It was interesting for me to adjust my explanations and demonstrations from Monday (older grades) for the younger participants in my Tuesday and Wednesday classes. They seem to have really enjoyed the games, so I think I did pretty well. And, I got loads of spontaneous hugs from these children, which was a welcome surprise. Hugs all around. Very, very heart warming.

Activity 2 - one of two different obstacle grids where the tape is a 'solid wall' that they can't go over, under or through - only around. The third activity was a 'real' orienteering experience using my orienteering map of their school - part of the property.
Across the classes (13 of them) there were children who stood out - a good number of them. They gobbled up my maps coming back for more and more and more. "More difficult," they'd request. So I'd trade them an 'orange' map for a 'red' map - my more challenging category. And they'd come back and say, "Another red!". A number of children really impressed me.

Of course there are always the few who don't get it (it's the same with adults so no reflection on the child nor their age) and some who don't care to get it; but the vast majority were enthusiastic participants who ran and jumped and searched and found.

During the school holidays, which starts now, I'll set up the permanent course on the school property so that it is ready when the children return. I'm really hoping that some of the very keen children will return home, telling their parents all about orienteering and that these parents will bring their child/children to an orienteering event.

A talented child that I presented orienteering to in 2005 and 2007 at this school - during this same programme - is now in Matric. He's actively involved in orienteering and I saw him in the distance today at the school - no longer the little boy who gobbled up my maps. In fact, checking up on the SAOF website, he is on our 2013 National Youth Squad. I haven't been at many O events this year so I haven't seen him for quite some time.

If only I could get a couple more just like him. But, almost more importantly, we need more parents like his dad too. It was maybe the weekend after I presented Mindworx in 2007 that they came to their first event - Dad responded proactively to his son's request to do more orienteering. And now six years later this young man has a shot at Junior World Champs and more in years to come.

My favourite part of Mindworx is receiving an envelope of letters written by children who chose orienteering as the activity they most enjoyed that day. They have to write a thank you note to the presenter. I've got a wonderful bundle.

Some of my stash ;)
Gotta love this one ;) (I've fuzzied-out her name)
How sweet is this? 
That was a good week and I look forward to further interaction with this school and children through the permanent courses and, hopefully, getting them into the O Schools League next year.

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