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At my troop meeting tommarrow we were scheduled to have patrols work on patrol flags ect, but due to a school event alot of them can't make it (their new patrols, no APLs yet ect.) So I want to get started on our next theme of orienteering a week before I had planned on doing it. Anyone have suggestions on an interesting way to present something orienteering related at a troop meeting. Especially something that does not require alot of time for setup (don't have access to the space to layout a course ahead of time ect.)




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What resources are available and how quickly can you get your hands on them? Specifically topgo maps and/or compasses? Either of these might be a good place to start if you are in a pinch. With compasses, you could familiarize them with the parts and then practice taking bearings on various objects outside. And you could practice orienting to north or other directions.


If maps are available but not compasses, you could explain features on contour maps, how to read contours to determine terrain, how to determine the direction a stream is flowing, what is a "handrail", how to determine elevation, all sorts of stuff.


You could make an "ancient mariner" compass. You need a magnet, a bowl of water, a sewing needle and a cork. Magnetize the needle by stroking it in one direction with the magnet a number of times. set the needle on the cork, floating in the water. (cut a little groove in the cork first for the needle to set down in.) the magnetized needle will orient itself toward the north magnetic pole. put some liquid white out or something similar on one end of needle, first, so you can keep track of North/South. This won't take long and might be a way to occupy one group while you instruct another.

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Try the old 120 degree game. Scout starts at a point preferably in grass and lays down a coin. He is given a heading and follows it for a set number of paces. He then stops and turns 120 degrees and goes another same number of paces. He repeats the 120 degree turn tries to end at the starting spot. If he is successful, he finds the coin. You can then allow him to do opposite turns. A scout in our council made large teaching compasses out of plexiglas and sold them to scout leaders to raise money for his Eagle project. Of course I bought one.

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One of the more succesful troop meetings I've set up involved practice solving map and compass problems indoors.



A designated spot for each problem was marked on the floor, and landmarks from a map were marked with pieces of paper on the wall.


Scouts were then given a map and asked to identify which island on the map corresponded to the "island" marked on the wall. They were asked to give the compass bearing they would follow to the island and the time it would take to get to the island in traveling in a canor at 3 MPH.


Another exercise involved a map of Mt. Rainier National Park, which has the Wonderland trail that goes entiely around the mountain. A location for the summit of Mt Rainier was marked on the wall in two or three locations and the Scouts had to determine where they would be on the trail if the mountain were in that direction.



Seattle Pioneer

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Some topics you can cover in a troop meeting:


- Get a topo map of your area (you can have them custom made at www.offroute.com).

- Have scouts identify map symbols and find them outside (if possible)

- Take bearings on objects (inside or out).

- Learn how to orient a map and find your way using triangulation.

- Learn about declination and how magnetic north differs from true north (a basketball can be a great training aide for this - think about it).

- Have scouts guess at the direction to their home, school or place of interest. Then use orienting a map skills to find out how close they are.

- Get the basic compass game from the scout shop. It can be set up in a very small area. In fact, the smaller the area, the harder it is.

- Scavenger hunt - hide items and give bearings to find them. (Takes a little less time than a full orienteering course).

- Have the scouts build an orienteering course (then re-use it in a couple of weeks).

- Map symbol identification relay game.


My hands are getting tired, but the opportunities go on and on. Good luck.

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Does your council offer events like Score-O?

Our council joins with the Orientieering clubs here and they do a big weekend at one of our camps.

THe Clubs sets up the course and gives some classes and the scouts furnish the place. It is a lot of fun. You can do teams, 2 man or more and single. You can do times of not. Our boys love it.

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If the night sky is clear take them outside and teach them these three key constellations, the Big Dipper, Scropio, and Cassopeia....


Now....when the Big Dipper and Cassopeia are at the 3 and 9 position have them cover these constellations with thier hands. They are now facing north....you can also place a topo map between these constellations to orientate the map.


For Scropio, when the head of the scropian stands up, you're facing south. Here again, you can oreintate a topo map with ease...


To locate Polaris, use the two outside stars of the Dipper. Measure the distance with the thumb and forefinger, then count up four spaces in the direction these stars point, you'll land on Polaris. Set a compass to North, and aim it at Polaris, it'll give you the declination....





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The Girl Scout shop in Albany has the silva kit with +/_ 18 compasses and the really big compass to show how to use it. See a GSA leader near you to borrow it. Too bad our council doesn't have one to loan. Especially the big compass model.


Check out Empire O club they usually have the scout "O" in October at 5 rivers.


Finally, all the Cracker Barrels have silva knockoffs for less than 5 bucks. Our Pack has like 15 of them.


Good luck

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