April OUSA Forum: Youth Mapping Program

Please join us this Thursday, April 11th, for a presentation and discussion about Orienteering USA’s Youth Mapping Program (YMP).

The presentation will take place on Google Meet at 8:30pm EDT and can be accessed at: https://meet.google.com/ama-bpex-yrv

Our goals are to introduce orienteering to as many youth as possible, to develop orienteering mappers, and to create small teaching maps to start new orienteering programs in schools and other youth-serving organizations. We aim to support the first 3 of the 4 elements of OUSA’s mission.

Who should attend:

  • Aspiring map-makers, interested in being able to make your own maps for training with friends or for your club, the YMP can provide mentorship. 
  • Small clubs without resources to adequately respond to queries from local schools.
  • Larger clubs looking to form connections with local educators.
  • Orienteers who want to see our sport thrive.

You can learn more about the YMP on the OUSA website: https://orienteeringusa.org/resources/ymp/

OUSA Clubs Present at a PE Teachers Conference

On November 5th and 6th, 2022 two Orienteering USA clubs, Navigation Games (NavGames) and Quantico Orienteering Club (QOC), teamed up to present workshops at the annual convention for Virginia Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance (VAHPERD).

The convention was attended by several hundred teachers and others involved in PE education. We were invited to present by Austin Kulp, the president of VAHPERD, who previously had a map made through Orienteering USA’s Youth Mapping Program for his school. 

Barb Bryant shared the Youth Mapping Program (YMP), which is an OUSA program to get good orienteering maps made for schools and other youth-serving organizations, and to help teachers with ideas for how to use them.

Navigation Games presented its school lesson plans for elementary and high school students. We set up our fun Geometric Animal-O activity indoors for the attendees to try out. There was a lot of laughter as they scurried about the conference room trying to find the right animal control. We also had SPORTident courses and Poison Score-O in a tiny park across the street from the conference venue. Andrea Schneider of OUSA’s YMP created a base map on short notice, and Barb created the map remotely using Google Street View. Several people took advantage of the spectacular fall weather to enjoy the outdoor courses. 

Don Fish from Quantico Orienteering Club gave examples of how the club works with local schools, and invited the teachers to attend a QOC meet. He also asked them to get in touch with him if they want advice or collaboration on getting started. Don feels strongly that we need to bring more young people into the sport, because many of us orienteers are getting older! 

The participants were enthusiastic about the possibility of including the demonstrated activities in their teaching. 

We’d like to encourage clubs to connect with their state’s PE conference. We’d be happy to give advice for a fun and informative session. We created a companion website for our presentations; feel free to take anything you find useful! The website includes the slide presentations that we went through at the beginning of our 50-minute sessions.

This post was authored by Navigation Games president Barbara Bryant. If your club has news items of general interest to Orienteering USA clubs and members, please contact us at webmaster@nullorienteeringusa.org.

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 – 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