Since beginning Orienteering late in April, I have wandered around the courses with Little Runner while feeling lost as to how to teach her the basics of the sport. This would be mostly because I don’t know them myself.
In LR’s age group the kids are supposed to go out and find the flags first, then return to discuss the experience after the fact. This seems a little backwards to me, so this week I arranged for some special help. We snagged a volunteer who gave us a few lessons on how map folding can help us understand which direction to go next. She helped LR think through a few points on the course and then we finished it on our own.
It’s hard to explain, but the tips made sense when she had us use them. We traipsed about in Bowness Park for about 40 minutes while LR found her way through her course. LR ran more this time than she’d done before, especially when she sighted the control points.
She finished in time for me to try a different sprint course on my own, so I grabbed a map and a timing chip and ran around my own 3 km treasure hunt for about 25 minutes. I’d dressed in running clothes, so ran as much as I could, taking breaks now and then to consult the map for clues like power lines, paths, vegetation, paths, picnic benches, buildings, etc.
It was like trail running, in that I went through puddles, over curbs and off the paths, but I wasn’t following someone else’s carefully placed route. I had to plan my own way from point to point around obstacles, and keep my eyes peeled for hiding places. Some of the controls were right out in the open, but some were hidden behind garbage cans or trees.
It was very fun! Finishing didn’t have the same feel as crossing a race finish line, because everyone starts and finishes at different times, but it was a cool experience.