Pulling up to the estate where Project Adventure is located in Beverly Mass, I was unsure of what to expect. It was a cold day in March that we had set the training swap for, ice and snow still covered patches of the ground, much else was now mushy mud puddles. One by one the Navigation Games staff appeared as I sat finishing my oatmeal. Barb and Ethan both came in from different openings in the woods, they had gotten there early to place controls. Shoshana pulled up soon after me.
This was the beginning of the our “Project Adventure x Navigation Games Training Swap” I had never been part of, or even heard of a training swap for that matter, and questioned the concept when the event popped up on our shared google calendar. The concept is simple enough though, the Navigation Games Staff would share our orienteering pedagogy with Project Adventure for the first half of the day, and the second half of the day would be spent learning from the Project Adventure staff about their approaches to experiential education.
To start the day, we paired up across organization lines, and began the orienteering course that Barb and Ethan had set up. A map with 15 controls was given to us. This course was a Score-O, which meant the order we decided to find controls in did not matter, but rather the amount of controls we found would be how our score was derived.
Larry, a senior trainer and consultant with Project Adventure, and I stumbled around the roughly 3 mile radius of the property, paying close attention to what controls we could hit, while at the same time getting the best view of the extraordinary space they had available to them. We tramped up overgrown hills, and slid down the other side. We kept up a slight jog to evade our closest competitors, another team who had chosen to go a similar way to us. In between the excitement of finding controls, Larry and I got in good chunks of time to talk about work in the outdoor industry, which is what lead me to Navigation Games and orienteering in the first place.
The rest of the day followed a similar path. Between the formal trainings and informal conversations between us participants, everyone was excited for the mutually beneficial trades. Training swaps are not very common for a few reasons, direct or substantial competition of organizations and proprietary information.
Lucky for us, Navigation Games and Project Adventure, education is the priority. Having our educators learn from the skilled folks at Project Adventure how to better understand SEL, or Social Emotional Learning, is paramount to our ability to give students who come to our orienteering classes not just a good learning experience but also a good experience overall. After all, while our mission is to teach the sport, secondary or supplemental goals are to have students challenge themselves, explore new curiosities, help other students, and see how they can use their bodies in this sport that is new to them. We have always wanted and strive to teach the whole student, something Project Adventure excels at.
Similarly, for Project Adventure, we could add another pathway through which to teach problem solving, resiliency, and connection with each other and purpose, all of which are goals outlined in their Mission Statement.
Consistent and intentional learning is what makes successful teachers. Successful teachers make happy students that are receptive to new ideas and information, which is the equation for an impactful program.
The programs of the day followed the same progression that we hope our students to follow, we all felt a little silly, embracing these new ideas, sports, or games that we were not completely familiar with. We dealt with difficulties in not understanding, or frustrations from problems we encountered. Then we were eventually able to feel the success of completing the orienteering course, competing in the games Project Adventure presented, learning how to take these lessons into different parts of ours lives, and most importantly for all us teachers, into our classes.