JWOC selection races, March 21-23
Juniors who are trying out for the JWOC team, please review the team selection criteria. Note that you must declare your intent to be considered a candidate for JWOC selection in writing or by email to at least one member of the JWOC Selections Committee (Erin Schirm, Barb Bryant, Charlie Bleau) prior to the first selection race.
Juniors traveling to the selection races: please coordinate your travel plans (rides to/from airport, rides to/from event, hotel rooms) using the Google Doc. If you are under 18 and not traveling with a parent, we ask that your parents identify an adult at the meet as your contact person, and provide power of attorney and medical information forms also linked at the Google Doc.
March training camp
Fresh from a very successful training camp in Arizona, Becky Carlyle and Erin Schirm will again team up to coach a junior training camp in New York March 28-30. Coaches are encouraged to come to help and to meet in the evenings. More information here.
West Point A-meet accommodations
The registration page for the West Point A meet will be up in the next few days. Juniors and their families are encouraged to consider the option of camping or staying in an A-frame at Lake Frederick. It's exciting that the West Point club is able to offer these accommodations as an option this year, and it would be fun to have juniors staying in the same place.
We also encourage juniors and families to sign up for the banquet offered by the West Point club.
Buying your ticket to Europe
Five of the JST members who will join Erin in NY for the full trip are ready to purchase tickets (possibly today!) in order to fly together. Erin and I have investigated flights to Europe. Currently it is possible to get the full itinerary from NY including within-Europe flights for $1214, for those flying with Erin on June 9th and leaving Bulgaria on the 28th. DETAILS ARE HERE
Going to Europe is not required of JST members. All JST members are invited, including those who do not make the JWOC team. You do not need to decide right now, but knowing whether and when you are likely to travel with the team will help us make travel plans. The cost will be approximately $50-$100/day in Europe, plus transatlantic airfare. (JWOC team members' accommodations and entry fees will be paid by OUSA for the one week of JWOC.) To make it easier to plan meeting up, your choices are to leave the USA on June 9, June 12, June 15, June 21 or July 3 (joining the group the following day in each case).
The following info is based on the survey done in January. (Dates to Europe are given as the date leaving, assuming arriving the next day)
- 6/9 to HEL for training: Erin, Isabel, Ethan, Addie, Matt, Addison, Austin. (Maybe: Anne)
- 6/12 to HEL for Jukola: no additional travelers
- 6/15 to HEL for training: 7 + Melanie. (Maybe: Michael, Will, Anne)
- 6/21 to OSL for JWOC 2015 training, races, Oslo tour: 8 + Evalin (Maybe: Katrina, Michael, Will, Anne)
- 7/3 to SOF for JWOC 2014 training: 9 + Anne, Will, Katrina, Matej*, Michael,
- Unknown: 9 JST members: Zac, Noah, Mathew, Julia, Elina, Anna, Connor, Brigitte, Sholonda
More information on the trip is at this link; the itinerary, including working with local coaches and teams, is being worked on actively by Pavlina, Liisa, Cristina, Erin and others. Feel free to talk to me or Erin with ideas or questions.
Seeking host for visiting teen orienteer
We are seeing a short-term host family for a visiting Czech 16-year-old this summer. We are seeking a family to host him for competitions before and after Sass Peepre, as well as getting him to and from the training camp. Alternatively, he'd be happy to travel with a family attending competitions and training in the USA. In return, the family would host a teen in the Czech Republic for orienteering training and racing in the summer of 2015. Please contact Barb if you can help.
JST parent phone call Tuesday
Coach Erin hosted a phone call for JST parents on Tuesday Feb 11.
- Uniform design contest
- North American summer travel - two options; still need people to help organize. (1) Canadian O champs Aug 2-4, Sass Peepre training camp at Whistler, then Western Canadian O Champs. (2) US Classic Champs Aug 9-10 in CO, training and racing in Laramie WY.
- Europe trip. 3 stages: (1) Finland June 9-22, Norway June 23-July 3, Bulgaria July 3-27.
- JST members are asked to attend the Black Diamond meet March 21-23 and the North American O Champs in the fall.
- JST parents are asked to volunteer; there are many options including fundraising, helping with activities at A meets, newsletter content/editing, finding sponsors.
- Erin will provide JST members with a pamphlet to help with fundraising/sponsorship from local businesses.
- We discussed logistics for A meet travel, and support for juniors traveling without parents. Please contact Erin or Barb if you have questions.
- Junior Safety: parents urged that all JST members be required to go through the misconduct training (~ 90 minutes) from safesport.org. More information about the SafeSport training is available in the previous newsletter.
In the last newsletter, we reported on a school in Idaho that is starting an orienteering program, received a grant from Orienteering USA's junior program, and hosted Erin Schirm. The name of the school is Riverstone, not Riverside.
Photo by Becky Carlyle
Arizona Training Camp Report
Phoenix & Tucson, AZ
Becky Carlyle (Level 3 Coach, British Orienteering Federation) and Erin Schirm coached this camp. Here is an excerpt of Becky's report; for the full write-up, please follow this link.
I was asked by Barb to join this training camp back in the heady, summer days of late summer. I was excited at the chance of some spring training, some coaching and building new ties with Erin’s new breed of Junior orienteers.
On Friday morning, the joy at wearing shorts to breakfast quickly transformed to a search for sunblock and the purchase of gallons of water. When we made it out to the orienteering area, a spectacular location right by Lost Dutchman State Park, we split into small groups and did a “Talk O,” a great way to get to know a new kind of mapping, and also your new friends. I went out with Emma Sherwood, a Canadian orienteer from Calgary, and after a very successful first half, of visualizing ridges and re-entrants, and mostly avoiding cactus spikes, we both started to drag in the heat.
More athletes arrived in the early afternoon, and once they all made it, we headed out for a sunset training session: a pairs score-O Rio Salado in Phoenix. The racing was fast and furious, with surprising detail round storm drains and road crossings that caught many people out.
Saturday and Sunday mornings both started with a pre-breakfast Agility session near our Tucson hotel. This was an awesome 30 minutes of running drills, jumping and landing, focusing on form and speed. These should form the basis of any aspiring orienteer’s program, particularly those who don’t have access to great terrain on their doorstep, and I’m sure Erin can explain them if you’re interested in trying them yourself.
We spent the weekend at Catalina State Park, a somewhat infamous area of cacti and rattlesnakes just outside Tucson. The first exercise on Saturday was a compass and distance judgment exercise, on the flat runnable part of the area, where Juniors were given a map with only the course, and no map details whatsoever. They did an admirable job of this exercise, then went out to run one of the B Meet courses. These courses went onto a very vague slope that caused problems for many, and helped us to direct the training for the rest of the weekend. That afternoon we returned to the slope of doom for a relocation exercise, where groups went out together with one person reading the map and dropping them, then worked together to figure out where they were dropped and get to the control. It’s a great exercise as it emphasizes how easy it is to lose time when you’re uncertain about where you are, and the best groups succeeded by adopting positive strategies – running to the top of ridges, finding significant stream bends and obvious re-entrant junctions. By the end of the exercise the heat was really starting to kick in, and we finished off with a group control collection exercise.
On Sunday the courses visited the rockier side of the park, and we were well prepared. The first exercise was a contour interpretation course. We’d noticed on the first day that many of the juniors were over reliant on their compass work, and by the time most of them made it to me, Erin had stolen most of their compasses! This meant they had to focus solely on the shape of the contours to navigate between controls. They also worked in pairs, so that they had to describe what they were visualizing to their partner. It was a shock to many of them that they navigated more successfully in this tough terrain without their compasses, by keeping their eyes up and interpreting the larger landscape. They took these techniques into their B Meet courses, where they had a lot of success.
For the afternoon we focused even more on simplification and contour interpretation, doing short loops from the parking lot. For the simplification loop, the juniors drew their own maps containing only the key features they would use to navigate to the control. This was seriously effective and fast, and really hammered home how little information you really need to take from the map to successfully complete a leg. In the second part, they left the map behind completely, some of them successfully completing a 5-leg course entirely by memory (Ethan and Matej did this to earn the whole group ice cream), others doing a leg at a time. In all my years of junior coaching it never ceases to amaze me how successful juniors can be without a map, and today was no exception. Today’s control collection score O’ was a lot less dramatic, with one team collecting 3 out of 4 of the key bonus controls, and destroying the opposition.
On Monday we changed up to a completely different area – the grasslands of the Santa Rita Mountains in the Coronado National Forest. These tough and spiky grasslands look very similar in contour detail to Black Diamond, the area the Juniors will face in the Team Trails, although the runnability was rather different. For the first exercise they completed a line O with a Vampiric twist – if you bumped into someone else, you had to swap maps and continue along their line. The juniors were total pros at contour interpretation by this time, and the prickly shrubs caused more difficulties than the map work.
The major exercise for the day was meticulously planned by Junior Matej Sebo, and was based on route choice. He planned a series of long legs that covered the kind of route choice problems they’ll face in the team trials – up and over or round the side, up to the ridge line or run in the re-entrants, and the juniors raced these legs in pairs or groups of three. I was exhausted by this point in the camp, but the Juniors showed no signs of slowing and attacked this course confidently. We rounded up with a discussion of the routes, the best strategies, and weighing up personal strengths when making choices.
The final exercise of this day was a short control pick. Again, the juniors went contour only, and all the legs went up and over a hill, meaning you had to work hard on strategies that would lead you to descending into the correct re-entrant. The hill we picked was a bit prickly, and this course was deceptively difficult, and we spaced the Juniors really close to each other so that distraction was a component as well. We rounded out the day with a rousing Capture the Flag battle, where some epic guarding and accidental control retrieval led to action till sundown, and a quick rush back out to Tucson before we were stuck driving desert roads in the dark.
Tuesday saw another day of training in the more open ridge and reentrant areas of Kentucky Camp, including a challenging “Island-O” and more simplification exercises. Wednesday morning was sprint training at the University of Arizona.
On my flight home, I reflected on an excellent training camp, and the differences I’d seen between these Juniors and those I’ve coached back in Europe.
There’s no doubt that the average US Junior is significantly less technically proficient than the average European. Most UK orienteers will have attended monthly technical training sessions since they were 14 years old, and this difference is quite apparent. It is something that can be addressed partially by course structure in the USA, where a skill level is skipped between Orange and Brown courses, leading to an over-reliance on compass technique and “running and hoping.”
However, I have never coached a group of juniors spanning the age categories that gel so well. The go-getting attitude and the way that everyone pulled together to address some really challenging courses were excellent. The technical improvement we saw over the space of individual exercises in some athletes was phenomenal. I hope that younger juniors will talk to the current team members, be inspired to join in themselves, and continue this upward trend.
Improvements in International Results will take time. But building this team coherence, this knowledge about skills acquisition and how to train is the solid base that athletes can build upon. It’s likely that in the next 3-4 years we’ll see US Juniors start to appear more consistently in JWOC B Finals. Given the development situation in the US as it has been for the last 5-10 years, this alone will be a spectacular achievement. We’ll also be developing a team of young people who will promote the sport, bring others in, and become the organizers, course setters, mappers and coaches of the future. Erin and Barb have done a wonderful job of getting this started, but there is a long way to go.
How can Orienteering USA help? Local members can act as local support for Juniors – particularly when they go to college, rides to meets (and even to the supermarket to buy decent food) can go a long way. Those who have lots of skilled experience can act as mentors and local coaches. In planning your local meets, think about skills progression – don’t throw Juniors into highly technical work on orange courses, when they’re not yet ready for it. Plan white courses that are achievable – it’s better that a 9 year old completes the course by themselves in 16 minutes than gets dragged round by a parent for 2+ hours. If you don’t feel able to do this yourself, get in touch with people who have coached juniors, and ask for their advice. If you don’t feel capable of any of that, then there’s always financial support. You can do amazing things even with a 4 day training camp like this, but it does cost a significant amount.
I attended this training camp not quite sure what I would see, but I have returned inspired, excited and optimistic about the future of US Junior Orienteering. This is due in no small part to the young people themselves, who are driven, motivated and interesting, and the incredible hard work of their managers, Erin and Barb. I’m very excited to see some of them again at our training camp at Blue Mountain in NY, on March 28th-30th. Juniors of all abilities are welcome, as are adults who are keen on getting involved in the program.
Dates for major upcoming events
Clubs, please coordinate travel and accommodation so that juniors can get to these meets, with their families or another club member. The Planning Calendar includes information on events that are in the works.
- Mar 14-16: US Ski O Champs, Stowe, VT (GMOC). Registration. Who's going.
- Mar 21-23: Run Black Diamond, featuring the US Team Trials and JWOC Selection Races, Concord CA (Get Lost!!). Registration. Who's going
- Mar 28-30: Northeast Junior Training Camp, Blue Mtn Reservation, Peekskill NY.
- Apr 4-6: Flying Pig and US Interscholastic Champs, Brookville and Liberty IN (OCIN)
- April 12-13: West Point A-event, NY
- April 26-27, Mason-Dixon Classic, featuring the US Relay Champs and US Intercollegiate Champs, Elkton MD and Newark DE. (DVOA). Late registration fees begin on Mon, Apr 7 (Not April 17th as wrongly reported in previous newsletter!). Event page. Registration. Who's going.
- May 30-Jun 1: Boggs Mountain A-event, Cobb CA. Last day to register at the early fee level is Sun, May 11. (BAOC). Event page.
- June 5-8: USA ARDF (Radio Orienteering) Championships, Boston MA. Event page.
- Jul 5-13: World Orienteering Championships (WOC)
- Jul 21-28: Junior World Orienteering Championships (JWOC)