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lweihl

First class orienteering requirement

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My son needs to work on a few more requirements to receive his First Class rank. The troop he is part of is in an area that has 2 Cub Scout packs to feed 3 Boy Scout troops. We are the odd troop out(meaning the other two troops are in the same towns as the two Cub Scout packs) so our numbers aren't as high as the other 2 troops. My son and two other boys came over a year ago. They are active and have made good progress towards rank. However, they are doing it mostly with help from parents and the Scoutmaster. We had some older boys that just graduated, then a couple 16 year olds that aren't real active, some 14 year olds, two of which came over from another troop so the younger boys aren't getting a lot of guidance from older scouts. Where I'm stuck right now is on the orienteering requirement for First Class. Our current Scoutmaster has been in his position for 2 years and his son is 14 but he wasn't very involved when his son did the orienteering part of First Class. No one seems to remember what the troop did to complete the first class orienteering requirements in the past. The closest I can get is that they did something during Camp Alaska out in the woods. I decided to go hunting for resources on the web and in the library. I found a lot out about orienteering and I also found out a lot about how the Boy Scout First Class requirements for orienteering are sort of old fashioned.

 

There seem to be two areas of thought with respect to the orienteering. One is that the boys use compass bearings and pacing to complete some sort of course. I found an example fill in form that a troop in Ann Arbor Michigan uses for this. First the boys need to figure out how many steps they take in 100ft. Then it's on to the task. It has instructions like: Heading of 180 degrees for 300 feet, then heading of 260 degrees for 600 feet. These instructions continue for 15 legs and at points have them estimate distances and the height of some light poles. I could easily make up a course like this somewhere in our area.

 

The other thought on orienteering is to have them do true orienteering with a map, control points and compass. The only issue I have with this is that in the literature I've seen on this you need to have a topographic map with magnetic north lines on it to orient the compass properly. If I just want to lay out my own course in a nearby park or woods it would be impossible to get a map like this, correct?

 

If I drew a map by hand and just labeled north on it would be accurate enough to allow laying the compass on the map to get a line of direction? This would sort of be like they do at corn mazes (which I love:-) but spread out more.

 

Can anyone help shed light on this? I'd really like to try and get the boys through this stuff during the summer when they have a bit more time for it.

 

Thanks,

Lisa

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Have you checked with your nearby scout camp? Some have an orienteering course already laid out.

kbandit

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We laid out a course using google earth. We printed the maps for the scouts. While not a true "topo map" the map did show lakes, trees, roads, buildings etc. like a topo. There were no mountains, just gentle hills. We actually had a real USGA topo map for the area but it was obsolete, the google map was better. The google earth map had the course points identified as A, B, C, etc. The scout had to plot his course from point to point. The map was used by the scouts to calculate the bearing for each leg and also estimate the distance. This was a great learning experience since the guys had to know how to orient a map and then determine "if I need to get from this lakeshore to that path intersection over there for leg #4 of the course my bearing is 175 for 1500 yards. I can use that tree along the way as a landmark to get there." That to me is real orienteering, using a map and compass together.

 

We explained use of orienteering concepts to the guys like attack points, collecting feature, aiming off, reading ahead and handrails on a "dummy map" and they actually used them to finish the course on the "real map".

 

Prior to this the troop had done a one mile 12 point compass course like you described above "go 500 feet bearing 125, go 1000 feet bearing 260, etc." A a real orienteering course is better. If you are ever lost in the woods and only have a map & compass then skill on a "compass course" won't help much. If you can't read a map, how are you going to know what bearing to take? Finishing a compass course shows you can use a compass. Finishing a real orienteering course shows you can orient a map, read a map, find the right bearing, estimate distance and then plot your own course to get from point A to point B.

 

 

(This message has been edited by knot head)

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Unless I'm mis-reading the requirements it is Second Class that Scouts must use a map and compass together on a 5 mile hike. First Class only requires a compass orienteering course of at least one mile and the additon of measuring height or width of objects.

 

Most maps have the top of the page representing true north so the left margin will be a N-S line. If you know the declination i.e. 21east (E. Washington years ago) you just set your compass for 339 line up the base of your compass with the left or right edge of the map and turn your body until the needle centers in the compass. One such webpage explains this better and in more detail than I can in a quick forum reply. A simple way of setting up a course is to have the return location the same as the starting point. One could even find the waypoints with a GPS receiver to reduce error. Otherwise just using an unmarked course and measure the error in feet or yards from the target end point.(This message has been edited by brotherhoodwww)(This message has been edited by brotherhoodwww)

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"Compass courses," while useful in helping teach how to use a compass, are useless in real-life situations. Far more useful is the orienteering taught by orienteering associations and in the Orienteering MB pamphlet.

 

When I was teaching Orienteering MB at a summer camp, I modified stuff a bit because the U.S. Geological Survey map available for the area was too large to be useful. We used a camp trail map instead, but spent a lot of time looking at and talking about the USGS maps to get a feel for how they worked.

 

FWIW, the USGS topos aren't really being updated these days. My understanding is they're currently working on something that combines the best features of aerial photography and traditional topos.

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Remember that the skills from Tenderfoot to First Class are BASIC skills. Basic compass skills are going to seem "old fashioned" because comapasses have changed very little in a long, long, time. And the basic skills way back when are still the basic skills today.

 

Now as far as the requirements, what other units do is of no concern. You need to focus on what the requirements are in the handbook, and you need to read the referenced pages in the Handbook that explian to the scout how to meet the requirements. They are pretty clear.

 

I would bet that you have a county, or state park, or even a scout camp nearby with trails and maps where the scouts could paractice and test their basic compass skills according to the Boy Scout Handbook.

 

BW

 

 

 

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While not one mile long, I had two of our older scouts place masking tape markers on the church basement floor and make an orienteering course out of them. Start each patrol at a different mark and give each of them a bearing and distance and see how well manipulate the course. Winners got M&Ms.

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Check to see if there is an Orienteering Club near you.

 

The US Orienteering Federation web site has a list of clubs.

www.us.orienteering.org

 

Our local club has Scouters in it and they have created courses at most of the parks around us that can be used to fulfill the requirement.

At most of the club's events during the year the basic course they setup will fulfill the requirement also.

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I was faced with the same dilema about six months ago. I was not able to find a canned solution in the area, most of the other Troops solved it at Summer Camp.

 

I went to our local wilderness center that has an intricate set of marked and unmarked trails. Located a starting point on one marked trail. The trails had a number of landmarks that we used. The route took them through a number of the trails and they had to pick up a token at 8 places to complete it. I didn't go on the trail with them, waited at the end point to wait for them. The route was not intentionally confusing but it did include one circle. Two other brand new ASM's were with them.

 

It was a bit of work to lay it out, but it was worth it. The 1 mile course took about 1 hour to complete. They got lost once, but they found there error and corrected it. They boys and myself had a radio in case they were totally lost. They used it to ask some questions.

 

The biggest problem they had was keeping the pace steady and doing the math to convert the measurements into paces.

 

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Thanks for all your helpful input!! To answer some questions that were asked:

 

The closest orienteering club would be about an hour away in Michigan. The closest camp would be in Toledo and I don't know if they have an orienteering course setup.

 

Our Assistant Scoutmasters wanted to work on T-2-1 requirements last year at summer camp but everytime they went to the area it was not staffed and could not be used. They complained and the camp said they'd try to make sure it was available more often this year. I think I'll ask our Scoutmaster (he'll only be there a few days) to check on if the camp has an orienteering course setup for the boys. Otherwise I think I'll make up my own course in the woods behind my house and draw my own map. The only problem is there are very few landmarks in the woods. I would prefer they not use pacing to do this course but use their compasses and a map and work it like a corn maze. I think we'll talk about using a map and compass on the side and maybe do a compass course with pacing also.

 

Does that seem like it'd fit the bill for 1st class requirements? I'm most concerned about the boys learning to use the compass correctly. I've been in a corn maze with one of the boys and his sense of direction is so poor that I would not want to be lost in the woods with him:-)

 

Thanks again!

Lisa

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Lisa

 

I have been the ASM in our troop responsible for "EDGEing" our scouts throuh this requirement. We have always done it on a weekend campout and so far it has worked out great.

 

State Park maps are usually easier to come by and I have used the "trial" edition of Topozone to print out quasi USGS maps to get everyone familiarized with them. These maps also show compass declination even though it is nonimal here in the midwest.

 

So here is what I have done in the past. Keep in mind that this all takes place while on a campout. We have the older scouts teach the compass and map skills as per the requirements while I and some older scouts set up a compass course. Trust me, a mile long course is a lot longer than you think it is.

 

Once the course is set up, usually just after lunch, we review pacing distances, and the skills they learned in the morning. We then set the scouts off, in pairs, at 15-20 minute intervals. Along the course we have adults or older scouts stationed at waypoints to test the boys on height and distance measurements. They older boys are much better at explaining the math than me. The scouts on the course are to find the waypoints marked by blaze orange utility flags ( the ones they use to mark their underground pipes/wires before digging) Each flag has a letter or number marked on it. The scouts are instructed to write down that number to check for accuarcy at the end of the course. We have had scouts finish in a little as 40 minutes while others took close to 2 hours.

 

They all do seem to have fun doing it.

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"Never do anything for the scout that the scout can do for himself" That is a great phrase to keep in mind at all times in order to make the patrol method permeate the unit program.

 

Here is how that relates to this topic.

 

We used to test this requirement in pairs. Two patrols set out in different directions and each person create a map that was a mile in length. The map had to include included bearings, distances and landmarks. The then they exchanged maps with the other patrol and each person had to follow their map to see where it lead them.

 

This not only told us who could follow a map but who understood how to make one as well.

 

 

 

(This message has been edited by Bob White)

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Well, after the BOR thread and my logic neurons firing on all cylinders - if a patrol got mixed up how do you know if they were bad orienteers or the previous patrol were bad map makers?

 

The real point I think is there is no need to go to a pre-established orienteering course. Go ahead and make one yourself. That is what we have always done with our troop. Yes, it takes some work and we only do it about once a year but it really isn't that difficult.

 

To "modernize" we now usually have an outing where we do orienteering in the morning and then geo-caching (GPS not compass) in the afternoon. Personally, I like the orienteering better.

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I like the orienteering alot more than the geo-caching also. Not sure why but I like the old time stuff that is pretty much obsolete like knots, orienteering, cooking over a wood fire. Using bungees, gps and colemans are okay, but I guess I like that old school stuff. Hey - maybe there's a theme for a campout in there somewhere ... "old school camping".

 

I do like the idea of the scouts setting up the course, or at least setting it up with some guidance. I think I'll do that next year.

 

I'd like to mention google earth again. That is a really nice tool to use to prepare the map for your guys but you'll need to be in a metro area to get the resolution you need. I'm not 100% old school I guess!!!(This message has been edited by KNOT HEAD)

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Last time we ran a Troop oriented Orienteering event was at the winter Cabin Campout. We did not have maps though. We had Older scouts mark off a course throughout the camp. We wrote up the directions and pacings twice. One forwaarcd and the second in reverse. We then had the younger scouts divided into two groups and gave each group one list of instructions. We wanted to see if they would take approximately the same time to complete. We did NOT tell the that the courses were the reverse of each other. The event went over well with all the scouts. I know we didn't cover all the requirements needed and that was not our intention. But it was a successful event for all involved.

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