Year 5-8 Orienteering Camp Report

As part of their orienteering journey to improve their knowledge and skills, CMOC kids Blake McKinnon, Isla Robinson, Catherine Motion, and Cameron Motion attended the year 5-8 Orienteering Camp at Teapot Valley in Nelson from 18 to 22 December 2020. Here, Catherine and Cameron tell us about their experience.

The orienteering camp was run by PAPO Canterbury Orienteering Club. The orienteering camp helps new and even experienced orienteers to enhance their skills and learn new techniques. About 40 kids attended from Auckland, Christchurch and Nelson for the awesome chance to learn from some great coaches.

The camp started at 5pm, we got placed into our cabins for the weekend, it was easy to make friends because we had similar interests. That night we were put into groups according to our abilities. Some of the coaches were older kids who were on the Junior Camp the week before. We went over a line map that we were to use in the morning.

In the morning, we went to Tahunanui Beach to do the line map. The line map was an exercise where we had to follow a purple line on the map. It went in and around the sand dunes and bush. We had to observe the terrain, contours, density of the bush, tracks, etc… We did this by ourselves. During this exercise, we had to look out for seven orange flags and locate them on the map. Afterwards in our groups we discussed where we found the flags and checked we’d done it correctly. After the line course, we tried an orange orienteering course, using the techniques we had learned on the previous exercise. We then had a break for swimming and lunch.

After lunch, we drove to the Botanical Reserve in Nelson City. There on top of the hill is a monument for the centre of New Zealand. Going up the hill, we were not allowed to look at our maps; this was because it was a location exercise. So how it worked: We got blindly led up the hill on tracks and through the bush. At random times we stopped and our coaches tested us to see if we knew our location. We used our memory and pointed on the map to where we thought we were. We used track junctions, broken tracks, or by using the contours and obvious features to figure out our location. When we reached the top, there is an awesome view all over Nelson. After a short stop to catch our breath, we tried an orange course going up and down and around the hill. The controls were mostly hidden off the track. Now I reckon we know most of that hill very well, maybe even blindfolded!

When we got back to the camp, we went swimming with friends in the pool. The camp has a maze, in which the coaches set a sprint course using idents. The maze was huge and without a map it was tricky. All the controls for that sprint in the maze were fairly close to one another. The quickest time to do the sprint was roughly three minutes.

After breakfast on day two, we headed off to Rabbit Island. The training involved a map with six blank areas on it. When we arrived at a blank area on the map we had to make a choice between two pictures “A” or “B”. It’s bit like placing in a piece on a jigsaw puzzle into the map. Based on the contours, pathways, and what you can observe, you had to figure out which picture was the correct one to fit into the blank spot to make the map complete. We walked around the area figuring what was what, and if we got it wrong, our coach Daisy would discuss with us what we got wrong and how we wouldn’t make that mistake again! That exercise will help us when we are in the forest to figure out from our surroundings on the map and relocation when we’re lost.

The next exercise was Catching Features! This will definitely help us if we are lost in the future. We had to look for big features that are on the map and use them to locate our position. After that we did a little course around Rabbit Island where we had to use compass bearings, and choose the best routes to get to the controls.

The most fun of the day was the relay. We all stood in a line, the coaches paired up the people on either end of the line to partner up! (Shortest to tallest). The first person from each pair had to take a hat to control No1, come back and the partner would then take the hat from the first control to the second come back. The first person would then take the hat from 2 to 3 and so on, until we’d both had four turns. Isla Robinson and her partner came 2nd.

After the relay, we drove to a river. It was great to cool down and have a swim. There was a really awesome rope swing to clamber up to and swing down and drop into the river. Later on back at camp we had some free time while the coaches set up the orienteering course around the camp. We used our idents and we ran as fast as we could. We had the choice between the short and a long course, we went for the long course, it went all over the camp. The short course would’ve been too easy. After dinner, we were straight into bed, totally exhausted.

On the third day, we had to wake up early in order to pack because we were leaving that afternoon. We had breakfast at 7:30am with a briefing on how the day was going to roll. Today’s activities were at Saint Arnaud and Lake Rotoiti. At St Arnaud, we split off into our groups to do some exercises. First up, we tried cutting corners, we diverted off the track, road or fence line into the bush. Cutting corners, if done well, can make your route choice faster to get to a control. We found the bush really dense in places, and we had to be really aggressive to get through. Cutting some corners was harder than just going the long way around.

The next thing we practiced was compass bearings. Our coaches taught us to set a bearing and look for something in the distance on that bearing to focus on, then go straight as you can to that object and we’d stay on track for the next control. You might have do this several times on a long leg.

We had a bite to eat and then headed over to the lake. Some guys braved the cold water and took a swim. There was another orienteering course set, but we were feeling a bit tired and Blake and Isla had a flight to catch back to Auckland.

Catherine, Cameron, Isla, and Blake found this camp extremely helpful and learned many new techniques. We also made heaps of friends while at the camp. It’ll be great to catch up with them at orienteering events in the future. We really recommend this camp if you want to continue on your orienteering journey because you’ll learn so much for forest and sprint events. Also, we had an awesome time. A big thank you to Jenni Adams for organising the camp.