Wednesday, August 25, 2010


What do you get when you cross and Easter Egg hunt with a cross country race and a geography class?  Well, if you look at the title of this entry, you'll see it's an orienteering event.  Fritz and I did a very small scale class last year with the Missouri Conservation Dept.  We were basically criss-crossing a field and using compass bearings to determine which tree to head for.

This time we were attending a class put on by the St. Louis Orienteering club.   We traveled with another homeschooling family and there were several other parent/kid teams in attendance.  The first hour involved how to  use the compass and read maps--topography lines, symbols for fences, etc.  Then we went on a brief walk with our maps in hand to see if we could use our new skills to find the "control."  This is an orange and white windsock-like object.  Attached to each is a unique  set of pins you use to punch your card and prove you found the control.

After final preparations (read that a bathroom break)  we were sent off on the course.  We had 45 minutes to find as many or all of 19 controls hidden throughout the park.  Our team had two moms and4 homeschooled boys.  Schnickelfritz mentioned out loud that we probably wouldn't do so well because "You're kinda slow Mama."  I'll attribute that to still recovering from surgery rather than just being out of shape. 

"That just means we'll have to travel smarter, not faster son," was my reply.  We did give the boys a general direction and send them on ahead.  By the time the moms arrived, they had usually found the control and punched their cards.   Forty-five minutes elapsed rather quickly and rather than risk a penalty for missing the deadline, we headed back having found only 12 controls.  (You'd have to travel at a pretty good trot to cover the ground for all 19).


When we returned to the Start/Finish line the regular members of the Orienteering club were preparing for their meet.  I was pleasantly surprised to find a group of teenagers poring over a map to plot their course--better than hanging out at the mall or playing video games.

Fritz was bubbling over with enthusiasm.  I don't know if it was because he couldn't wait a month until the next O-event, or if he thought his slow-poke Mama needed more practice but he made his own course when we got home.  He made five controls and a map of our yard.  I wasn't sure how much attention he was paying to the class portion of our morning, but he did remember the starting point was a triangle in a circle and the end was a double circle.  He drew topography lines and labeled north of the map.  

Homeschoolers are always looking for ways to add physical education to their curriculum.  Here's a sport that can be done alone or as a team and at any age level!  See if you can find an O-event in your area.

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