Navigation Games is a Cambridge, MA based not-for-profit organization founded in 2015. Our mission is to bring the joy of orienteering to every child in Cambridge and beyond.
In the spring of 2015, we organized after-school classes at six Cambridge schools, in-school electives at the Cambridge Street Upper School, and worked with the 5th grade classes at the Morse School. In the summer we worked with the Compass program 5th grade, and the Upton Street Community School. In the fall we provided a program for the 8th graders at the Vassal Lane Upper School, and an afterschool class for the Upton Street Community School. In November and December we held weekly introductory orienteering events on Sundays at parks around Cambridge.
In 2016, we brought Cambridge Street Upper School and Cambridge Rindge and Latin teams to the USA National Championships. CSUS came in 2nd in the Intermediate category. CRLS won Junior Varsity. In the summer, we held our first 6-week summer program for teens in collaboration with the City of Cambridge Mayor's Summer Youth Employment Program.
In 2017, we continued Community School classes and orienteering units at several local schools. Former CRLS student Isak Prellner returned to co-direct the 2nd annual 6-week teen program. In the fall, we had two visiting coaches. Juan Manuel Merida of Spain brought his experience pulling together multi-school events in Madrid, as well as his natural ability to connect with kids around orienteering. Violeta Feliciano is the top Spanish female orienteer. She continued to train while teaching after-school classes in the Cambridge Community Schools, coaching the CPSD middle school teams, and recruiting athletes at Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School. In both spring and fall, we collaborated with the New England Orienteering Club and Cambridge Sports Union to start the Greater Boston Youth Orienteering Series, to introduce more children and families to orienteering.
In 2018, we continued the NEOC/CSU youth project with another four events. On the competitive side, Navigation Games helped CRLS send teams in all three categories (Intermediate, JV, Varsity) to the USA Junior Nationals. Our intermediate team won Silver; JV won Bronze; Varsity won Gold. The teams were coached by former USA Orienteering Team member Ethan Childs, Brazil Air Force Orienteering Team member Josivan Juan de Oliveira, and Czech coach Pavla Zdrahalova de Oliveira. Navigation Games continued improving and growing in-school programs, and is planning to host the first-ever middle school championships in Cambridge on June 5, 2018. The middle school teams are coached by two graduate students from the Boston University physical education and health department (Rachel Schwartz and Cristian Guzman), two mountain bike orienteers from the Czech Republic (Tomas Kamaryt and Marie Brezinova, who is on the national team), and a former member of the Brazilian Junior Orienteering Team (Gabriella Franco). Former Team USA member Melanie Sergiev is studying outdoor education and will intern with us for a month, bringing our K-5 PE curriculum to life through a 2-week stint with the Cambridge Public Schools. The summer program for teens should be better than ever, with leadership by TWO current and former USA Orienteering Team members (Ethan Childs and Evalin Brautigam), an experienced orienteer and sports event management student from Norway (Maiken Sandberg), and an environmental scientist (David Miller). We are beyond excited to welcome new Executive Director Cristina Luis and her family to Cambridge this summer.
Ethan is a former member of the US National Team, and has participated in multiple junior and senior World Championships since he was 17. He recently graduated from the University of Vermont in 2016 with degrees in English and psychology, and is now working to share his orienteering experience with anyone who wants to give his favorite sport a try.
Barb got started by volunteering in her kids' classrooms in Cambridge, MA, and one thing led to another. She is now the President of Navigation Games and her focus is to bring orienteering into schools and to every child in the city. Barb is also Vice President of Youth Initiatives for Orienteering USA. Barb believes that orienteering teaches kids how to make good decisions: to think and act at the same time in a concerted way.
Cristina joined us as Executive Director in 2018, after seven years in Norway immersing herself in orienteering culture. She has been involved with orienteering, maps, and navigation for as long as she can remember: first as a navigational assistant to her dad while driving, then as a geoscience student, combat search and rescue navigator in the Air Force, and finally as a top level orienteer representing the US at the World Orienteering Championships and World Ski Orienteering Championships. Cristina has also coached groups ranging from 8 year-old beginners up to Junior and Senior US Teams and spent several years in the classroom teaching middle school, high school, and college students. She is infectiously enthusiastic about orienteering and its potential as a lifelong activity that helps develop confidence, decision-making, and map reading skills.