The New England Orienteering Club

by Peter Amram

Continually remind the child to hold the map properly: flat; in the "weak" hand; thumb on present position; and oriented correctly. This is the most important technique for any beginner to master. Cheerfully, ceaselessly, insist that the map be held properly.

Encourage an interest in the contour lines even if it means interrupting progress on a leg to notice a nearby hilltop or spur or reentrant.

Use concrete expressions, especially in questions, and not abstract concepts or jargon. Example: "Where is that cliff shown on your map?" Not: "Stay in contact." Also: "What are we looking for and how will we know it's the right one?" Not: "Let's check the control description and code."

Later, a discussion of the all-important attack point can begin: "What are we really looking for?"

Let the child pick the route regardless of efficiency as long as it is a secure one. The idea is to build the confidence that comes with achievement. Concern for time and placement is inimical to developing independent decision-making skills.

Downplay the importance of the compass except to set the map and as a check on the direction of a trail, stream or stone wall. Especially do not encourage the use of the compass to set a bearing on or off trail.

The surest sign of a child's fatigue is that he/she no long instinctively runs toward the control after spotting the bag. Do not attempt any more teaching points on a course after this "Ah-hah!" reflex has disappeared.

And at the finish head first for the cookies, not the posted results!

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