Sunday, 11 December 2016

Teambuild at Otters Haunt

I love watching people new to navigation get it right. Their eyes shine with satisfaction - the reward of completing something new and challenging. And discovering that they can find their way to any destination. Without a voice-assisted satellite navigation device.

I had the fortune of being roped into assisting with a teambuild event at Otters Haunt, a lovely place just outside of Parys (less than 5km from town). It is owned by Karen and Graeme Addision. Otters Haunt lies on the Vaal river and has a section of river front with access to islands - by wooden bridge if the river is low or by kayak if it is high. They have a number of chalets and accommodation options for guests. It is a friendly and tranquil place. It is also where my feline friend, Ribbons, the most massive cat I've had the pleasure of meeting, lives.

Me and Ribbons - about two weeks ago.
The Addisons offer a variety of activities from rafting and kayaking to tours of the Vredefort Dome. They have also facilitated a bunch of other events and were contacted by a university group about a teambuild. Graeme gave me a shout, knowing that I'd have some ideas.

The section of Otters that guests get to see is the river side; but the property also extends for almost a kilometre on the other side of the tar road. I headed out there and took a walk around - I'd never been on this side either. Using an aerial image for the background (thank you Dylan), I overlaid tracks and some details to create a decent map. We printed it at around 1:4,500 on an A3 page. This gave us a long, skinny map - the property is far longer than it is wide.

About 1/4 of the map
In the field we had 16 checkpoint - each with a different point score - and four activity stations. With the river running high and the bridges to the island inaccessible, we cancelled the 5th activity station (A) and another two checkpoints.

For the event, the participants had a limited time (1h15) to visit the four activity stations (compulsory) and they could choose, with the time available, which of the checkpoints to get. Highest point score wins. Total distance, if they got everything, was around 4km.

We had around 84 participants - in pairs for the event. A bunch of Parys locals who manned the activity stations and assisted in guiding the pre-event cone grid, which gave the participants a basic map orientation skill to help them during the event. Nikki, Kevin, Marcelle, Graham, Louis and two young river guides were on hand to help, take photos and to run the activity stations.

The participants did far better than I expected and it was a pleasure to see them really running around and aiming to get all of the checkpoints, which a few pairs did! It was hot and humid and still they totally rocked the activity. The event ticked over smoothly and on time, getting the participants back on their bus and back to Potch and off to catch flights to other provinces in good time.

My next mission is to turn this into a proper orienteering map. This will make for a fun and local orienteering event.

Photos of the event taken by Graeme and Nikki.

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