Schools and Orienteering

IMG_4901A few weeks ago, we got an email from our son’s teacher with a list of activities they will be doing in month of September/October.  The list included two Mondays reserved for  “Orienteering”.  Admittedly, I never heard of it and I thought it’s something they do as part of school and promptly ignored it except to remind him to take snack/water as requested in email.

WhatsApp Image 2018-10-01 at 21.29.48First day of Orienteering, my son came home and described what they did.  It sounded quite exciting.  Again, the whole class and their teacher went in a bus as it’s an offsite event and even had their lunch at a high school closer to where they were (instead of at their own school…).  He said they had to run for a certain distance from the starting point till they reached lake Nasijärvi and then had to identify certain number of milestones (control points).  It was in an unfamiliar (to the kids) area and they have to navigate with the help of a map!  I thought it’s one of the coolest sport.

Even after that, it didn’t occur to me that maybe I should look it up. A simple Google search would have caused a lot less embarrassment later that week. I still assumed it’s a thing they do in schools.  I met a friend for coffee the same week and I happen to mention about orienteering and she said they do it as a family during weekends!  My eyes probably went a meter wide and I asked her if that’s a sport that families can do and she said Finland is quite big on it.  So of course then I looked it up.  That night during dinner time our conversation went to orienteering and hubby tells us he was a gold medalist in orienteering while he was in the army!!  I still learn something new about him after all these years:).

Not only they learnt how to, they do get tested on it at a different location to make sure hey actually learned and how fast they can do it!  Now these are the kind of tests I am sure kids don’t mind either:)

Definition of Orienteering according to Wikipedia:  Orienteering is a group of sports that requires navigational skills using a map and compass to navigate from point to point in diverse and usually unfamiliar terrain whilst moving at speed.

Orienteering maps usually involve forests and lakes and we have plenty of those around:) . If not for my flu, last weekend would have been a weekend to learn about orienteering.  Hopefully we get a chance to do it at least once before winter sets in.  But how cool is it to introduce kids to this type of activity that teaches life skills!  They learn how to use maps and compass and find their way around while having fun. One might think this skillset of reading maps is not needed anymore with the abundance of phones and Google maps.  That might be but there are plenty of forests around where the phones do not receive GPS signals.  And even if there is signal available, it’s not easy to find your way when everything around you looks about the same (trees etc.) and GPS gets quite confused as well. Believe me, I am quite good at getting lost in a forest:)  This might be a good way to acquire that very useful skill!

ps: The last picture is taken by my son during orienteering..


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As the title suggests, I am an Indian (born and raised) who lived and worked in California, married a Finnish guy and now living in Finland raising our son. Here's my take on living in Finland.

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