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End of Year News from Navigation Games

Dear friends of Navigation Games: Thank you for your support and participation! We would like to share our 2021 story with you — and seek your help in meeting our goals for 2022.

I am proud of our team for providing meaningful and safe experiential education for so many children during the covid-19 pandemic. In 2021, Navigation Games delivered 954 classes and events, for 15,000 participants, which includes over 3000 different children, most of them attending multiple sessions. We had 31 staff, including many volunteers, delivering programs.

Looking ahead to 2022, our strategy will shift mid-year to focus on enabling others to teach orienteering. Building on seven years of program design and delivery, we aim to publish a standards-based curriculum that can be delivered by educators anywhere. To support adoption of the curriculum, we will offer workshops for educators, as well as maps and materials. We are developing measurement tools to assess the effectiveness of our programs in teaching wayfinding skills useful not only in orienteering, but also in school and life.

You can contact us at We welcome volunteers. If you know an organization that may want to sponsor a map or a workshop, or implement an orienteering unit, please let us know. Your advice is always appreciated. Particularly as we are self-funding the curriculum development, we welcome financial donations, which can be made by check to Navigation Games, or by clicking on the button below.

And now for a breakdown of our 2021 programs!

School Programs

  • Cambridge Public Schools PE curriculum

    • Delivered 523 classes in spring 2021

    • Designed new remote lessons

    • Expanded the original curriculum to five grades: junior kindergarten through 3rd

  • Roger Clap Elementary School, Dorchester

    • Spring electives for in-person students

    • 5 weeks of PE classes for all students in the fall

    • Field trip to orienteer at Moakley Park

    • Culminating trip to the woods at Franklin Park

  • Sunita-Williams Elementary School, Needham

    • 5 weeks of PE for all students

    • Professional development for all PE teachers in the district

    • Workshop for all 100 staff in August

  • Morse School 5th grade end of year outing

  • Lexington Montessori middle school weekly orienteering classes. Coach Ethan reports that students went from no prior map experience to accurately placing checkpoints in off-trail locations on an orienteering map. This was a great testing ground for fun adaptations of orienteering games.

  • World Orienteering Day (=week) at Cambridge Street Upper School

  • Teams

    • Coached 3 upper school teams in Cambridge

    • Supported the Cambridge Rindge and Latin orienteering coach David Landrigan

    • Coached several practices for Belmont Day School team

Outside of School

  • Private and partner events

    • Birthday parties

    • Small after school learning pods

    • Scout outings

    • Partnership with Elevate Youth

    • East Boston Neighborhood Health Center: program and maps

    • JCC Boston after school

    • Corporate team-building

  • Classes and events offered through town recreation departments

    • Lexington

    • Newton

    • Brookline

  • Public events in Cambridge

    • Mini-games: family-oriented orienteering activities at Cambridge parks to complement in-school PE programming

    • Night-O and Vampire-O at Danehy Park

Enabling others

  • Workshops for educators

    • Massachusetts Environmental Education Society Conference

    • Lexington Public Schools professional development

    • Boston Workshop in collaboration with the Appalachian Mountain Club

    • Association for Experiential Education: online workshop for educators from across the country

    • Massachusetts Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation & Dance Convention

    • Training swap with Project Adventure

  • Lesson plans and materials

    • Our activity and lesson plans are now available online

    • Published At Home Orienteering on Amazon

    • Created laminated materials for beginning instruction for two school districts

Summer Program

  • 9 teens from the Cambridge Mayor’s Summer Youth Employment Program worked with us for 6 weeks. They learned to orienteer, taught classes at summer camps, and worked on projects to support our mission. Led by Operations Director Bryna Chalmer

  • Belmont Day Camp

  • Newton Recreation camp

  • Recruited and trained orienteering specialists for Camp Grossman summer camp

Not only is orienteering a fun outdoor activity; it is also a rich framework for Social Emotional Learning (SEL). Those skills include self awareness, attention to others and the environment, seeing failure and difficulty as feedback, iteration/persistence, goal setting and resilience/flexibility.

One focus area for us is how to bring outdoor experiential education to children in urban schools with limited access to green spaces. Our work in Cambridge serves such an urban population. Similarly, the population at Roger Clap school in Dorchester is 65% low income and 84% minority. Our programs at the Clap school, which has only a small, paved outdoor space, presented us with a challenge in designing lessons to get kids navigating outdoors. We made use of the neighborhood streets and nearby parks. On our field trip to the woods, one student was excited to see a squirrel for the first time!

We are grateful to all our teachers and volunteers. Our core 2021 staff were Ethan Childs, Charlotte Marshall, Bryna Chalmer and David Landrigan, who made possible the biggest year yet for Navigation Games programs!

Vampire-O at Danehy Park in Cambridge

Coach Francois and his team from Roger Clap School at Franklin Park in Boston

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