Active Schools inspired to orienteer by Strathearn 2019

School children across the Strathearn region have been inspired to get involved in orienteering and take part in their first mainstream event, thanks to the Strathearn Schools Project and the Scottish 6 Days.

The project came about as a result ofthe Physical Education and Physical Activity and Sport (PEPAS) group for the Crieff Schools Cluster deciding to promote orienteering as a school sport in the lead up to the 6 Days orienteering event being held in Strathearn in July-August 2019. The group includes representatives from each of the local schools, alongside Active Schools Co-ordinator Nick Keiller, whose commitment has been pivotal to success of the project.

The project culminated with 350 children taking part in an orienteering festival at Macrosty Park in May, and several of them returning to the park on the rest day of the Scottish 6 Days.

Nick Keiller said of the project:

“It’s been absolutely brilliant. About 12 months ago, Tayside orienteering got in touch and made us aware of the Scottish 6 Days. Schools jumped at the chance to be involved.

“We worked on this over the last academic year and decided we were going to have an orienteering festival for the Crieff schools cluster. We bought orienteering kits for all the schools and almost all the schools sent staff to Scottish Orienteering’s training sessions, as well as sending children to the SOA’s young leader training.

“Staff then went and taught orienteering, and there were after schools clubs run by parent volunteers.

“That led into the orienteering festival at Macrosty Park, where 350 children did a Score orienteering event in May. We then offered six primary schools a two-day summer camp, with 15 kids from Primary 5-7.

“The feedback from the young people has been overwhelmingly positive. Orienteering offers the chance to be physically active, though it’s something different to mainstream sports. Children who didn’t think they were sporty enjoyed it; it especially worked for those kids who may not be the fastest or strongest in the class.

“The feedback from staff was positive too – they thought it was worthwhile and got a lot out of it. One of the schools used orienteering to link in with maths lessons, getting kids to amalgamate being active with maths and geography.

“None of this would have been possible without Allan Downie and Fran Loots. They’ve gone above and beyond to get that up and running and they’re a credit to the sport.”

The schools cluster and Active Schools are planning to continue the project for the coming years, and hoping to send several teams from the area to the Scottish Schools Festival each year.

The summer camp worked really well to bridge the gap between the playground/ school festival experience and the step up to mainstream orienteering. We held a practice competition in a conventional orienteering area which the youngsters loved and was much more exciting than running round a park! There has been enthusiastic feedback from parents too and an interest in some in giving it a got themselves.

If you’re keen to set up a similar project in another part of Scotland, please contact the relevant Scottish Orienteering Regional Development Officer:

North of Scotland:          sarah@scottish-orienteering.org

East of Scotland:             judy@scottish-orienteering.org

West of Scotland:           fran.loots@scottish-orienteering.org

South of Scotland:          judy@scottish-orienteering.org AND fran.loots@scottish-orienteering.org