By early 2020, we at Navigation Games had completed a strategic planning process and felt ready to enter a period of growth. Our district-wide orienteering programming was going really well in Cambridge. We were approached after our workshops at the state physical education conference by educators who wanted to work with us. We ran professional development workshops at new school districts, and even an inter-district PE teachers meeting.
We also made connections within the experiential education and environmental education communities, and presented our work at their state and regional conferences. We talked about collaboration with a number of organizations that own land and are interested in our programming.
With expansion in mind, we hired Tanairi to do outreach to new school district clients. We hired Jen to manage the organization and support employees, and prepare to bring in additional people to deliver the programs.
Then the coronavirus hit. Our spring programming was canceled. Our potential clients and collaborators are scrambling to regroup within their schools and organizations, and aren’t yet able to talk about future programming.
For several weeks, we worked hard. We applied for grants and met (by Zoom!) with potential grant administrators. We debriefed PE teachers about the 3rd grade orienteering curriculum we co-taught with them a couple months ago. We repaired our equipment. We moved our website to a new platform. We tested and put in place new tools (Slack, Asana, Donorbox, StoryBoardThat, Google apps scripts, Wix collections, iOrienteering, Glide). We created “At-Home Orienteering”, including neighborhood-O and games kids and families can play while they are out of school. We attended webinars. We designed college orientation offerings. We applied to give workshops at national conferences about orienteering in schools. We were interviewed for a SportsEngine article. We were busy, in short. But it was so fun, and so amazing, to work with the new team, and we got into a really good groove with each other, starting each day with a 9 am check-in meeting. I’m sure I can speak for Ethan too, and say that having Tanairi and Jen join the team has been absolutely transformative.
However, with our income interrupted, we have had to furlough our employees starting April 13. We are hoping our Paycheck Protection loan application will be approved, allowing us to bring employees back for three weeks this spring to prepare for post-pandemic programming. We have the funds saved to pick up again once we are on the far side of this pandemic. In the meantime, I will continue volunteering full time as Executive Director to keep the business running.
We are so excited about what is possible for orienteering in schools. Our vision has evolved from teaching a sport to kids, to include training teachers in innovative experiential methods and incorporating environmental awareness and activism. We have so much to offer, and we know people are excited to work with us.
We need your support. Financial donations are huge for us, because they create a bridge to see us to the other side; do look to see whether your company will match your donation. We could also use your help finding corporate sponsorship for our work. We also need volunteers to build our neighborhood-O course library (hopefully in new towns!), test out our new lesson plans, identify potential new donors, do data entry, make maps, and more. The best thing you can do is to help us connect to new people and organizations, and share our vision.
Thank you for your support!