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Educator Conferences - With Maps!

We run workshops at educator conferences, and participants love them. Our take-home message: orienteering engages kids in learning, and it's easy to start teaching.

At the mid-Atlantic regional conference for experiential education, a group of therapists, teachers and park rangers gathered and, as you can see from their smiles, had fun orienteering together in small teams and trying out Navigation Games' progression of activities to practice and build skills like observation, spatial awareness, exploration and map orientation.

Conference workshops lead to new orienteering programs in schools and at other youth-serving organizations.

In orienteering races, the organizers generally provide a safety bearing - the direction of the compass you should go if you are lost and confused and can't locate yourself on the map. For the workshop, our starting point was a yurt at the top of a large hill, and I loved describing the safety bearing not as a direction of the compass, but rather just "go uphill." This led to an interesting conversation about finding the qibla, or direction toward Mecca for prayer, which is a wonderful example of having a reference direction.

It's always a pleasure to be able to get participants out on a real orienteering map. Andrea Schneider made the draft map from remote sensing data and it was great: I was able to use accurately mapped rock and depression features as checkpoint locations. Here is an excerpt from Andrea's map:

Orienteering USA's Youth Mapping Project now creates draft maps for conference presentations. Ideally, the hosting organization will be interested in applying to get a finished map, as happened at the Estes Park YMCA in Colorado. Finishing a map to our quality standard requires funding as well as cooperation from the local organization to be the "eyes on the ground" for the cartographer. So far, OUSA cartographers Andrea Schneider, Jon Campbell and Deb Humiston have made conference maps in seven states (CO, MA, NH, WV, IA, CA, VT), for conferences in math, environmental ed, experiential ed, and PE. At least two host organizations have applied for finished maps.

We are seeking people from around the country to run orienteering workshops at educator conferences. Navigation Games can help with the application, the workshop content, slides, and materials, as well as following up with participants afterward. Orienteering USA can help with a map. Funding may be available for registration and travel.

I love this evaluation, from a participant: "I really enjoyed the mix of experiential action and tools provided."

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