2017 World Orienteering Day in Minnesota

World Orienteering Day

Camryn Franke, MNOC / NJROTC

Wednesday, May 24th, 2017, was World Orienteering Day. In Saint Paul, Minnesota, the Washington Technology Magnet School NJROTC Orienteering Team celebrated by introducing middle school and high school gym classes to the basics of orienteering; the students then ran a mile long beginner-level course on the school grounds, which includes the track, two softball fields, five tennis courts, and 25 acres of woods containing a steep hill and lots of trees.

Washington Tech  is an inner-city, public combined middle and high school serving grades 6-12. One elective class that is offered to high school students is the Navy Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps, or NJROTC, established by Congress to promote citizenship and leadership among high school students. The Washington Tech NJROTC unit has an extremely successful Orienteering Team; they compete with other JROTC units in the upper Midwest at various orienteering events around Minnesota and Wisconsin hosted by the Minnesota Orienteering Club (MNOC). In each of the past three years, Washington Tech NJROTC claimed the title of "Upper Midwest JROTC Orienteering Champions."

For World Orienteering Day this year, the 31 members of the Washington NJROTC Orienteering Team partnered with the middle school and high school gym teachers to host an introduction to orienteering for students. To prepare, the Orienteering Team created a map of the school grounds, complete with contour lines and marked trails. Few students even had an idea what orienteering is and even fewer had an idea of how to do it! The Orienteering Team split up and worked with teams of students to teach them about map reading and how to use the compass. Soon enough, the students were off and running their first orienteering course! A senior Orienteering Team member, James Vo, commented on his experience today: "I really enjoyed watching the kids get full of excitement to do the course. Right when it was their turn to do their course, they would spring up excitedly and sprint off. The best part was towards the end, when they got back, all sweaty and out of breath, wanting to do another course."

Some teams picked it up right away, finishing the mile long course in 15 minutes. Others got lost along the way and needed to get help from the NJROTC Orienteering Team members monitoring the course. A four-year Orienteering Team member, Xoua Thao, commented, "watching the kids get seriously lost was quite nostalgic. It reminded me of when I first started orienteering." These young students, regardless of how long it took them to finish the course, agreed that orienteering was "very tiring, challenging, and different from other sports."  Most said also said they would definitely try orienteering again, as it is "good exercise," "fun," and "good preparation for a zombie apocalypse." Another said that "orienteering made running fun. I would like to go back and do the course again to beat my first time."
The Washington NJROTC Orienteering team celebrates this successful day of orienteering and hopes that they inspired  interest and even a newfound passion for orienteering in the students they worked with today. 

Happy Orienteering!

posted 19 June 2017