OUSA Seeks Volunteers for Key Program Roles

Youth Mapping Program Outreach Coordinator

The Youth Mapping Program (YMP) Committee is seeking volunteer(s) who would be willing to help us with outreach to identify new schools and non-profit youth organizations who would be interested in a map. This role involves:

  • Identifying organizations with missions and terrain that align with YMP opportunities. In particular, organizations with terrain that supports mapping from a distance (i.e. open areas rather than dense forests), or that is near a YMP mapper’s location. Don’t worry – no mapping expertise is necessary.
  • Publicizing opportunities and contacting organizations to get them excited about trying orienteering
  • Connecting them with other Orienteering USA (OUSA) assets (list of local clubs, education website, etc)
  • Following up with organizations who have received YMP created maps, in order to generate stories of their map use, to be used by the National Communications Manager to further publicize and grow the program

For more information about the Youth Mapping Program, see the Youth Mapping Program page on the OUSA website.  Interested people should contact the YMP Committee at YMPCommittee@nullorienteeringusa.org.

OUSA Rankings Coordinator

After many, many years of volunteer service maintaining the US foot orienteering rolling rankings, OUSA’s longtime rankings coordinator Valerie Meyer has decided to step aside. OUSA therefore stands in need of one or more people to do the work of keeping the rankings updated as National Ranking Event (NRE) results come in.

The required qualifications are modest – passable computer literacy, including basic skills in using spreadsheet software, and access to Microsoft Excel are really all that is required, given a willingness to put in one to two hours work in the aftermath of every event including one or more NREs (perhaps more for particularly well-attended events or events with a lot of participants new to the rankings, e.g Junior Nationals).

If that sounds like you and keeping the OUSA rankings system going is something you think would give you a warm glow, please contact VP of Competition Jon Torrance at jon.torrance@nullorienteeringusa.org.

Youth Mapping Feature – March 2022

This month we feature a great example of how a small school map project can build into something bigger to benefit the community at large. From Bill Cusworth, mapper:

An example of an OUSA Youth Mapping Program (YMP) project that started small and grew into something bigger is the Gold Trail School located near Placerville, California. This project was the very first YMP project to be requested and the first one finished in February 2020. I was the mapper on that project before I joined the YMP committee a few months later as a map consultant. Danny Lulla is the 5th grade teacher who requested the map. He was directed to the YMP program after contacting the local orienteering club, Gold Country Orienteers, based in Sacramento.

After successfully using the school map with his students to teach them orienteering, Danny decided that he wanted to expand his course options by using the area that surrounds the school, Wakamatsu Farm. The farm is a historic landmark, the original site of the Wakamatsu Tea and Silk Farm Colony, established June 8, 1869 , the first Japanese colony in the USA. It is the birthplace of the first Japanese American and contains the gravesite of the first Japanese immigrant buried in the USA.

Wakamatsu Farm was too large (1.1 sq km) a project to fall within the scope of the YMP, so Danny secured a $1000 grant from the El Dorado County Office of Education to pay for the new map. Danny asked me to make the map and the map was completed in June 2021 and Danny set about organizing an event there, working with the landowner – the American River Conservancy (ARC).

I worked with Danny with some technical details on how to set up an orienteering course. The event took place on December 2 and with 63 fifth graders and was a successful Score-O with 20 controls. ARC has been very receptive to using the land for orienteering and is open to having a public orienteering event in the future. The folks at ARC even produced an introductory video and flyer to help students become familiar with the activity.

Introductory Video

The area is suitable for some nice middle distance courses and Gold Country Orienteers will likely hold an event in the future, especially after the map is updated with some brand new LiDAR data.

It all starts with connecting local youth organizations with a local club and through the Youth Mapping Program getting a map made to generate the initial interest in orienteering within the local community. The YMP committee would like your assistance in making these initial connections and is asking you to reach out to the folks you know in your local community – teachers, scout leaders, parks & recreation departments – to let them know about the YMP and how they can get a high quality orienteering map for their organization, often for very little out of pocket cost. YMP maps are the seeds for growing a new generation of orienteers, help us spread these seeds by suggesting it to contacts in your own local community.

Photos courtesy Danny Lulla.
Application for YMP Map.

Youth Mapping Program – 2021 Summary

The Youth Mapping Program supports the mission of Orienteering USA, with a focus on the goals of increasing participation and teaching map reading and navigation skills. We match schools and youth organizations with cartographers, provide grants for maps, develop mappers, and encourage relationships between local clubs and schools. Mappers can become part of the program by signing up here; schools and youth organizations can apply to get a map made here

As of our last report to the OUSA Board, the program had produced 33 completed maps, with 13 more in progress and 12 in the planning stages, for a grand total of 58 map projects. Finished maps can be viewed using the locator map on the OUSA website. Many kids have orienteered on the finished maps. We also publish example stories of map use on the OUSA website, you can view these here.

We are asking all OUSA member clubs to publicize this mapping program to schools and youth organizations in your area. For each map that is made, several educators have the opportunity to teach dozens or hundreds of children about orienteering. Please contact the committee if you have any questions. A good way to get started might be to ask your members to share with any school or youth group contacts a link to the YMP page

The YMP maps have already been used by hundreds of children and adults. PE teachers have created new orienteering units. JROTC units have conducted training on the maps. Parks and Recreation departments have collaborated with local Scouts and orienteering clubs to create permanent courses. 

The volunteers on the YMP Committee are orienteers who also teach kids or make maps themselves. We welcome additional volunteers, including people who can help with outreach to educators. Email us to find out how you can support the effort!

YMP Map of the Month: May 2021

The Youth Mapping Program‘s Map of the Month for May 2021 features Bensalem High School in Bensalem, PA. Remote mapping was performed by Chris Gikkas with a field checking team comprised of Marine Corps JROTC cadets and their instructor Retired USMC Master Sergeant Shawn Worthen. Chris comments that the teams of cadets produced “a perfectly marked-up map that made my revision work quick and easy.

MCJROTC Cadets learning about the mapping process with remote YMP mapper Chris Gikkas.

Chris goes on to say “The best part of the whole experience for me was the Zoom video call with Mr. Worthen and the cadets. We reviewed a sample fieldwork map I had sent from a previous YMP project, went over the history and basics of orienteering, the mapping process, what a great map looks like (and why,) and how they’ll use it once it’s made . They were engaged, with thoughtful questions, and I believe this communication really boosted their confidence. Given their high level of participation, the Bensalem cadets can be extra proud of their new orienteering map.

YMP Map of the Month: April 2021

The map of the month for April 2021 features Santiago High School in Corona, CA. Orienteering USA president Clare Durand (LAOC) served as remote mapper for this project. The field checking was performed by the Santiago HS Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corp (AFJROTC) cadets and instructors.

This project serves as an excellent example of the types of field checking questions prepared by the remote mapper (after the initial map drafting) and the responses returned by the remote field checkers. For this map the cadets reviewed the map areas in question and returned their response to Ms. Durand in only 3 days! This sort of team collaboration results in a very quick turnaround of maps in the YMP program. View the full map.

Image: Santiago HS website

Some excerpts from the mappers notes followed by examples of the field checker responses:
(Download the complete response document here.)

General Notes on what to look for:

Safety – make sure any major items that affect the safety of participants are accurately represented on the map.

Stairs and Ramps – I found it difficult to tell where there was stairs vs just a ramp. Please check that I didn’t miss any important stairways.

Building/Canopy – Canopies are places where there is a roof, but you can walk underneath. I was able to identify some of this, but I imagine there are some that I couldn’t see. Please let me know if I have missed any significant canopy areas. If any architectural drawings exist that show the difference between the roofs and where the actual building walls are, that could be helpful.

Traffic Islands – some seemed to be dirt and others paved. Check that I got them right.

Vegetation – I mostly mapped trees with the smaller dot symbol because they seemed to mostly be smaller or else they were very tall palm trees with only a thin trunk near the ground. If any tree is noticeably larger and you want me to change the symbol just let me know.

Out-of-bounds – The private land in the NW corner is mapped olive green to show it’s out-of-bounds. I’ve also used this for some smaller areas in the campus where it seemed reasonable. This symbol can be used anyplace that you want to restrict runners from entering. Let me know if I’ve missed anything important.

Specific questions. These areas are outlined in red and numbered on the map. Some numbers appear more than once. 

  1. Could use some pictures of this area. I can’t determine what are the paths/ramps and what is not a travel path.
  2. Are gates generally open or shut? Should the fence continue across the driveways and/or sidewalks?
  3. Crossable or Uncrossable Fence? It looks like it might be easily crossable, but mapping as uncrossable makes it illegal to jump the fence.
  4. Dirt as yellow or as brown? Yellow would indicate an “open area” not normally used as a walking path. Brown would indicate a more regularly traveled area.
  5. Is there something here that should be mapped? I can’t tell what is there.
  6. Are these properly mapped as canopy? Are they closed wall on any side other than the backstop?
  7. Is the northern wall here an uncrossable wall or just a curb or low wall? I can’t tell under the trees what’s going on. Perhaps a picture of this area would be helpful.
  8. What are the details on these corridors? It looks like they are two floors with a stairway and maybe an elevator shaft? And then they open to the ground in opposite directions depending whether you are on top or bottom? Pictures would be helpful.
  9. Please check that I’ve interpreted this area correctly and that there aren’t any hidden features under the trees that should be mapped.
  10. Is it possible to get to this courtyard without entering a building? Perhaps via a canopied corridor either under the circular area or the SE building gap? If it is accessible to a runner, then I could use some pictures from inside the courtyard. I especially want to see the extent to which there is canopy around the edges. If it is not accessible, then don’t bother. Also will need picture(s) of the access points to map them properly.
  11. What is here? Is it worth mapping?
  12. Are storage containers permanently here? Should they be mapped?

Be sure to check out the Youth Mapping Program pages to find out more about how to get a map made for your school or youth organization as well as information on how to join the growing team of YMP mappers.

YMP Map of the Month – March 2021

The Youth Mapping Program Map of the Month for March 2021 features a map of Roughout Ranch in Redding, California produced by YMP mapper Bob Bolz.

The Roughout Ranch Foundation provides meaningful opportunities for vulnerable children and special needs clients through life skills and equine assisted activities.  The organization is looking forward to adding self-confidence skills through navigation on their new map of the property.

YMP Map of the Month – February 2021

The Youth Mapping Program February Map of the Month feature is the William A. Hough High School in Cornelius, NC.  Due to Covid-19, the Hough HS JROTC unit has not met in person, says Walter Siegenthaler who provided the ‘eyes-on-the-ground’ field checking of the new map.  A multi-session series of virtual classes has been conducted via Zoom to about 45 cadets and it is anticipated that in-person use of the map will commence toward the end of the month.

Mapper Chris Gkikas (WNCOC) notes “This was my first time working with the YMP and it was a great experience from start to finish. Jon (Campbell) is a fantastic map consultant and effectively raised my mapping and drafting skills to a whole new level.  The map was drafted entirely in Open Orienteering Mapper, a free and open source alternative to the industry standard OCAD.”

Are you interested in flexing your cartography skills and joining the growing team of YMP mappers?  Sign up here.  Note: Mappers for the YMP are remote cartographers with field checking performed by persons from the recipient organization collaborating with you remotely as well as support from the core YMP consultant.

YMP Map of the Month – January 2021

As we head into the new year, Orienteering USA’s Youth Mapping Program (YMP) is moving ahead full steam. At last count there were seventeen (17) new maps in production by 17 different mappers, plus an equal number of remote field checkers serving as ‘eyes on the ground’. And the committee has more map requests queuing up!

This month’s featured Map of the Month is a 1:4000 scale map of the campus of the Black Hills State University in Spearfish, SD. It was created by YMP mapper Julia Doubson with field checking by BHSU Professor Christine McCart who heads up the Outdoor Education Program on campus. Professor McCart will utilize the new map in her PE 100 Orienteering Course as well as RECR 242 Outdoor Skills class. She also intends to share the map and resources with PE teachers in the local school systems.

If the map looks familiar, its probably because we ran this as our Puzzle Friday feature a few weeks back on New Years Day. You can check out the puzzle of this and other maps in our Puzzle Friday archives

Puzzle Friday: Black Hills State University

Happy New Year everyone!! Just a quick post to bring you a puzzle version of the January YMP Map of the Month: Black Hills State University in Spearfish, SD. We’ll be highlighting the Map of the Month in a future post, so stay tuned for more details on this brand new map.

Puzzle Friday: Auburndale Park

Happy Friday everyone! Today’s puzzle brings us another look at the December Map of the Month from the OUSA Youth Mapping Program – a mashup of the full Auburndale Park map along with photos shared with us by Channon Ames of the Newton Parks & Rec department. Some of the images were part of their Photo-O while others are of initial users of the new map. Have fun!!