Orienteering coaching course – a students perspective

Having seen a Facebook post for a coaching course on a cold March evening, on a whim, I booked…

So a couple of months later and thinking to myself , I ought to be gardening ( it was sunny) and orienteering this weekend I headed up to Rockbrook School in Dublin. We had been set some homework a couple of days previously, which of course I hadn’t bargained for so I was hoping for some inspiration on the day!

So seven wannabee coaches joined Eoin and Terry (or Terence as his mum calls him) our tutors for the two day course. I didn’t really know what to expect, not having a whole heap of experience myself and like many of us, mostly in the forest self-learning. My aim was to gain some more ideas for my cubs, scouts, local school and hopefully orienteering club too.

Of course in true Irish tradition we started with tea and a chat followed by some ice breakers. I now know who had porridge for breakfast that Saturday morning.

The day was broken into classroom and practical sessions, interspersed with general discussion and lots of sharing of ideas. We broke into pairs and were given packs with a variety of orienteering games which could be played inside or outside. Given the task of using or adapting the packs to create a short orienteering game. Our classmates were of course the guinea pigs to test our lesson plans. After testing each activity we gave and received feed back. There was a great mixture of teaching styles and personalities working together. Our tutors of course keeping us on track and in order.

As the day progressed we swapped partners for each task, moving outdoors and using the Rockbrook map to design simple learning activities. Once again creating great feedback and discussion.

So Sunday came and my homework done (in the wee hours of course) we presented our given topic, mine being ” Preparing a Novice for their First Public Event”, it was to be a five minute presentation. Thankfully the five minutes passed quickly ( maybe too quickly) and my excellent students behaved impeccably and didn’t ask too many awkward questions, despite the  inserted video in my slideshow not working.

During the day we advanced to learning about the parameters of planning courses for the novice. Safety, location choice and course planning. We dabbled with ‘Purple Pen‘, which will prove to help all novice planners.

The afternoon brought further outdoor activities, this time we planned individually to introduce a particular element of the sport to the slightly more experienced novice. We each made short training exercises within the grounds introducing attack points, route choice, collecting features, catching features etc….

We finished with an individual chat with our tutor, giving guidance on where we did well and what we need to work on. Now off to test our new skills on the unsuspecting with 20 hours of practical work required before a final assessment under the eyes of our tutor.

All in all it was a great weekend and worth the effort. It flew by seamlessly from one aspect of ‘O’ to another. We came away with great ideas and a framework for us each to work upon. There was a great mix of people within the group from the ultra experienced (elite) orienteer, dabblers like myself, to several trained outdoor instructors. I left feeling that if we could each go out and introduce and enthuse even just a few more individuals to orienteering we will do both the sport and the public a good service.

Debbie Whelan (trainee instructor)