Local Schools Celebrate World Orienteering Day

A number of World Orienteering Day (WOD) events will take place on May 24th in the twin cities area. Navy JROTC cadets at the Washington Technology Magnet School in St. Paul, under the leadership of Master Chief Gardner LaMarche, will introduce orienteering to over 100 students in grades 6-8, using cool new technology with maps on phones. Scoutmaster Dave Moore is collaborating with Kim Rudd of the Loppet Trail Kids, to bring orienteering to Theodore Wirth Park in Golden Valley, so that several scouts as well as Trail Kids can try out what they have practiced. Students in grades 3-5 of the Carver Elementary School in Maplewood will be able to try out orienteering as part of their annual Track & Field Day. Students at the New Prague Alternative Learning Center, under the guidance of Minnesota Orienteering Club members, have designed orienteering courses for the Ney Nature Center, Henderson, MN. These courses will be introduced to the public on World Orienteering Day, Wednesday, May 24. To find out how you can participate in the public event at Ney Park, visit the park’s website at www.neycenter.org.

Participation in the active sport of orienteering teaches outdoor navigation skills that are critical to exploration and enjoyment of parks and other natural areas. This self-driven outdoor immersion experience also builds self-confidence and appreciation for the value of natural spaces that is important for developing the the next generation of environmentally-aware citizens.

Dominick Boettcher, senior at New Prague ALC and lead of the orienteering course implementation at the Ney Nature Center said “Some schools are diving further and further into the digital age at the expense of experimentation with the outside world and nature. Outdoor experiences create adventure with just the slightest bit of imagination. I believe that an orienteering course is one of the better ways to take students from behind a desk and phone and put them outside behind a map. The skills that are taught in orienteering include patience, map knowledge, and confidence through successes and failures. These skills will follow the participants in their lives, hopefully sparking a love of nature along the way.”

Thomas Laraia, member of the Minnesota Orienteering Club (MNOC), as well as a member of the USA Junior National Team and of the team representing the USA in the 2017 Junior World Orienteering Championships in Finland, has been orienteering since he was a toddler, carried around by his parents in a baby-backpack. He is now trying to follow in the footsteps of his older brother, Michael Laraia, freshman at the University of Minnesota, and 2016 US Junior of the Year, who has enjoyed forests in many places in the World, but has trained hard in the ones of Minnesota and Western Wisconsin.

“Through collaborations between orienteering clubs and schools, and by bringing newcomers to our public events, we hope to spur even greater interest in the sport and in our national junior orienteering program,” said Barb Bryant, Orienteering USA’s World Orienteering Day Coordinator.

“Kids have so much fun learning and exploring the outdoors through activities like this,” said Kris Beecroft, OUSA’s President, “and it’s an activity that the whole family can enjoy, with more than 60 clubs across the US offering events on most weekends.” 

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