By Ethan Childs
Orienteering is a sport that traverses all terrains, all places, and all walks of life. It is a simple yet elegant sport which is constantly evolving and growing. Technology has allowed it to become even bigger and more accessible than ever before with features such as GPS tracking, touchless punching systems, and SI compasses. Now Navigation Games has innovated something wildly new which will forever transform the sport as we know it.
Feast your eyes on the new, lightweight, portable, disassemble-able epunch stand developed by Keegan Harkavy and his father:
Allow me to break it down. While traditional hanging controls and staked controls are still practical for most outdoor orienteering ventures, the new Navigation Games control stands allow the sport to be practiced indoors as well, while not limiting the outdoor potential. No longer will children have to bundle up and wade through several feet of snow during the harshest months, nor will poor volunteers be stuck with cold hands and shivering hearts as they try to tie a knot in the winter chill or jam a stake into frozen ground.
Until now, the primary medium for standing controls have been heavy wooden stands or bulky saddle horses, or sometimes heavy, bulky, wooden saddle horses. These new control stands are none of those things. They feature a lightweight rubber base which is gentle and forgiving on hardwood floors—such as school gyms where there are no features to hang controls and people get angry when you try to shove a stake in the ground—yet still demonstrate a strong grip with the smooth surface unlike plastic or other wooden contraptions. The bases are also detachable from the epunch clip at the top, and stack on top of each other to make storage and transportation more efficient. Rather than taking up your entire basement, garage, or club storage locker, these stands can be confined to a small corner and left there for years without degradation.
The medium by which the epunching units are attached is also elegantly simple and makes storage and transportation a breeze once again. The clips for each epunch unit are not mounted directly to the base of the stand, but instead are attached to specially designed wooden pegs with a mysterious white coating. (I honestly have no idea what the white coating is. I assume it is similar to the rest of the control stand, which is to say it’s purely magic in nature.) These pegs match the diameter of the hole at the top of each base so that they fit tightly and will not accidentally come loose, even if the control stand is knocked over a dozen times. They are easy to insert and just as easy to remove, making assembly and disassembly possible for people of all ages and ability levels.
The new control stands are simple, practical, economical, and easy to manufacture. They can be used outside or inside, daytime or nighttime, rain or shine, hot or cold, or in basically any other conceivable scenario. They are arguably the greatest thing to happen in orienteering since the introduction of the SI Air+ (a whole 3 or 4 years ago), and will likely prevail as one of the most innovative innovations in the orienteering world for days, if not weeks or months to come.
But for us at Navigation Games, it is just one more way of showing how much we care about the sport of orienteering and the community that surrounds it.
Keegan found a wooden peg and shoved it in a traffic cone. Now we can orienteer indoors.
Keegan Harkavy uses extreme care and precision to cut the magical white-coated wooden pegs to make sure they are exactly the right length. Too long or too short and the peg will stand out as being different from the others, which can lead to social isolation among magical white-coated pegs even though it still functions just like any of the others.