Orientation courses implemented in 13 schools in Taupō district
Olivia McLeod gives a pre-race briefing before an orienteering race for elementary school students at Spa Park. Photo / Sue MacLean
Olivia McLeod jokes that it was for purely selfish reasons that she had the idea to introduce orienteering to 13 schools in the Taupō district.
Have so many young people who are interested in
sport is great for numbers, while also teaching them valuable life skills.
In the second term of this year, over 1,000 elementary school students were able to experience an introductory orienteering program, presented by Oliva on behalf of the Taupō Orienteering Club.
On Thursday last week, 60 elementary school age children took part in an interschool orienteering race at Spa Park.
“The eight year olds finished the course, they did well. It was great to see all the teams come back on time,” says Olivia.
She is also a relief teacher at Taupō-nui-a-Tia College and runs the Adventure Running Club which regularly participates in orienteering events on the North Island. Participants meet several times a week to practice and improve their map reading and navigation skills.
“I thought if we could introduce school-aged children to map reading, they will be able to orient themselves very well by the time they get to high school. “
With support from Sport Waikato, Lake Taupō Sports Advisory Council, and Kiwisport, Olivia spent the second term running an orienteering course for grades 5-8 students at 13 elementary schools from Whakamaru to Kuratau.
The sport of orienteering offers many learning opportunities.
“Children get by for about 45 minutes outdoors, they experience problem solving and teamwork.”
She says the practical skills children learn include reading the earth and the elements and seeing how it relates to the map, and taking compass bearings and understanding how it applies to moving in the right direction.
“Orienteering is also a great activity to do with friends and family.”
Feedback from teachers in the second term was that orienteering offered classes at multiple levels, from math to fitness.
“There were the best cross country runners competing, and there were kids screaming in front of them who wouldn’t normally be interested in running,” says Olivia.
“The teachers were amazed, the non-athletic children would run about 3 km without even realizing it. Orienteering attracts everyone.”
Olivia created an orientation map for the grounds of each participating school. These maps were then used to generate a lesson, with each school having three lessons, from easy to difficult.
“The peculiarity of orienteering maps is that the colors and symbols are common internationally. A Taupō student learning to read a map in school can apply this knowledge to any other orienteering event in the world. “
She says the sport has “gone crazy” in Auckland, where 6,000-7,000 children regularly compete in orienteering.
Where 60 Taupō children competed at Spa Park last week, the same event in Auckland reportedly drew 700 to 800 children.
Orienteering races are scheduled for Sunday and December, and Olivia said high school students from the Adventure Racing club helped design the course by putting markers on the course maps.
Naomi Riedel, 17, a student at Tauhara College and member of the Adventure Running Club, helped set the stage for this weekend’s orienteering event which spans from Hilltop School to Taupō Middle School.
Naomi has been with the Adventure Running Club for three years, competes in national and regional events, and attended the junior orienteering training camp in Nelson in December of last year.
She says the best thing about orienteering is that it takes you to scenic places where you can’t drive.
“I also like the mental and physical challenge. Orienteering is a sport where I have to use my mind and body.”
She enjoys the twice weekly workouts with the Adventure Running Club and says her orienteering skills have improved “thanks to Olivia’s billions of knowledge.”
Olivia leaves Taupō at the end of the year and will live in Coromandel, but the Taupō Orienteering Club will continue to engage with primary schools in 2022.
If you want to get started in orienteering, download the orienteering map for Spa Park at
www.taupoorienteering.nz and try it out.
Taupō Orienteering Club Event
Who: Everyone welcome
What: Discovery of the double school
When: 10 a.m. to 11 a.m., Sunday November 14, enter www.entero.co.nz
Where: Start at Hilltop School and end at Taupō Middle School.
How: On foot only (no bikes), short or long route.
Cost: $ 7 for club members, $ 12 for non-club members, add $ 5 for daily entry.
Info: email [email protected] and www.taupoorienteering.nz
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