We are happy to share an interview passed to us on a Craftsbury member and ski orienteer, Kestrel Owens. Enjoy!
Running around in the woods searching for controls is an activity Kestrel Owens, a Craftsbury member, US Junior Ski-O team member, and sophomore at Craftsbury Academy, does for pleasure. This sport of orienteering is something he has been enthusiastic to share with younger students. In the Spring and Fall of 2013 he instructed four different groups of children in programs after school teaching them aspects of orienteering. Before actually meeting the students Kestrel spent a lot of time making maps of both the Hardwick Trails system and the trails on the Sterling College campus and beyond. He makes the maps by on the ground assessment of the area compared with computerized topographical and aerial maps, using a special orienteering map program called OCAD to make official sport orienteering maps. He taught students from Walden last spring and Hardwick this fall who were part of the Kids on the Move program. He has also worked with the Coyote Kids program and a home schooled group from the Greensboro area this fall exploring the trails of Craftsbury Common.
Following is an email interview that Barb Bryant, a Junior Orienteering organizer, conducted with Kestrel. This interview provides a bit of insight of what this teaching experience held for him.
How many kids did you work with?
Between 6 and 10
What did you want to teach them?
The symbols that are on the map and what they mean, how to orient the map, and with some groups how to make azimuth.
How many times did you meet with them?
Each of the four different groups I meet with once for between one and two hours depending on the group.
When did you do this?
I did this after school.
How old were they?
They were between 5 and 13
How did you teach them? Maybe give an example of what you did in a lesson.
I would have them learn what features meant, do a bit of practice azimuth work, and then have them go out on a simple (white) course in groups accompanied by people who knew how to orienteer.
Did they like it?
I think they most of them liked it if just it was for the fact that they got to run around in the woods. About 50% of the kids I think got to understand how to do basic orienteering, also only 75% of the kids actually wanted to try reading the maps.
What were they good at?
They were really good at running to the controls after they understood which way to go.
What was hard for them?
It was hard for them to stop running long enough to look at the map, also they did not seem to understand the concept of orientation very well, they would just want to go in the direction to the control that the map pointed irregardless of whether the map was oriented correctly.
What would you do differently in the future for teaching orienteering?
I would use the same style of instruction but not teach kids a young as 5, the average five year old does not have enough attention span to do orienteering. I would probably set the limit at about 8 years old.
Kestrel is on the U.S. Jr. Ski Orienteering team. He will be competing February 2014 in the World Jr. Ski Orienteering Championships in Estonia. Melanie Sergiev, a Senior at Craftsbury Academy just learned that she has been accepted as a member of the U.S. Jr. Ski Orienteering team as well. She is hoping to participate in the championship races in Estonia also. Kestrel’s father Adrian Owens will be chaperoning the Jr. team to Estonia where he will also compete in the World Masters Championships.