Volunteer week – Day 7

Today in a celebration of the young people that contribute to our sport, we are highlighting the activities of our nominations for Young Orienteer of the Year 2023. We are delighted to announce that the winners this year are Charlotte Horne and Isla O’Donoghue who between them are the mainstays of Aberdeen University Orienteering Club.

Isla and Charlotte looking cold but cheery at the EUOC Big Weekend

Alastair Murgatroyd, Founder of Aberdeen University Orienteering Club has the following to say:

Isla was in the first group of juniors to complete the SOA Young Leaders course in 2018 and since then has gained significant coaching experience while helping at Solway Orienteers coaching sessions including coaching school groups, Scouts and Explorers and also adult beginners. In her Young Leader role she has grown accustomed to working with groups as required and also providing shadowing for juniors to bolster their confidence. When she started at Aberdeen University it seemed a natural progression to get involved with orienteering coaching there and she was appointed at the AUOC club coach in her first week – her focus has been on running weekly sessions aimed at developing orienteering skills, leaving the fitness side for others to address. Early in 2023 she signed up for the SOA Level 1 coaching course and shortly before her end of year exams passed the assessment phase for this course while still a teenager, thereby becoming a qualified coach for AUOC over the coming years.

Charlotte, coming from south of the border, has not had the same young leaders opportunities but as the AUOC Secretary seized the opportunity for providing coaching that came with Isla’s arrival and has provided important support to Isla around delivery of the coaching. This in turn has kindled her interest in coaching and she has recently completed both the Coaching Foundation and the SOA Level 1 Coaching course, thereby providing AUOC with 2 qualified coaches, and SOA with an excellent start to its wish to have qualified coaches in university clubs.

Other well deserved nominees were:

Yann Newey MAROC

Yann always puts himself forward to volunteer to help. Having qualified as a Young Coach Assistant, he has been helping at the Banchory after school orienteering sessions and has also been working to reinstate a permanent orienteering course at Bellwood, involving much cycling from his home! Yann is a valued member of ScotJOS. He has suffered with persistent injury, but is showing stoicism and commitment to the sport in spite of this.

Yann leading the field

Scarlett Kelly FVO

Scarlett has played a major role in the last 12 months in enhancing our event delivery and coaching programme through her efforts in both capacities. Scarlett volunteered, unasked, to plan a local event in November 2022, as part of her Duke of Edinburgh Bronze award. Although FVO organises around 60 events a year, there are very few female planners, and even fewer junior planners, so Scarlett was innovative from the outset. In order to be best prepared to plan and organise the event, Scarlett undertook the BOF Event Safety Workshop in September, and also did the SOA Planners Workshop. Although there was a Planners Workshop exclusively for juniors scheduled for early 2023, Scarlett wished to be properly trained before her event, and was given permission to attend an Adult session instead. In view of Scarlett’s age and relative inexperience, the club assigned an experienced Controller to oversee her work. Not only did the controller comment that her work was of exemplary standard, but Scarlett was able to successfully put the case that a TD5 course on a TD4 area should not be termed as a Green course. As an outcome of this, all FVO local events from then on have had colour classifications correctly assigned, and a Light Green course has been added to the portfolio of courses this year. On submitting her portfolio of evidence, Scarlett was informed that, in the view of the school’s Duke of Edinburgh co-ordinator, she had not recorded sufficient hours to qualify for the award, so Scarlett then offered to plan a second event in order to make up the hours. This was a Night event at Christmas, and featured a number of innovative festive touches, including mandatory Santa hats, flashing fairy lights on the finish and mince pies for all competitors. Scarlett organised and planned the event solo, with the only outside intervention being her parents transporting her to the venue, and it proved to be very successful. As a member of ScotJOS, Scarlett acts as a role model for younger orienteers at her school. She has recruited and retained a number of pupils and staff from Dollar Academy, including the aforementioned Duke of Edinburgh co-ordinator, who now realises the time and effort that goes into putting on an orienteering event, and is the first point of contact for all orienteering-related matters within the school community. She qualified as a Young Leader this year, and has been involved in some coaching activity with the junior school at Dollar in the run-up to the Scottish Schools Orienteering Festival in June. Additionally, and particularly worthy of mention is the fact that she decided, on her own initiative, to take on and mentor one of her friends who was struggling with the transition from Orange to Light Green courses, and this support has enabled the girl to remain within the sport.

Scarlett demonstrating the art of control flow.

Finn Duguid TAY

Finn has been a volunteer at five of our coaching sessions this year. This has involved helping to prepare the sessions by putting out and collecting controls, and running some of the exercises for the juniors. He is supportive, patient and encouraging when working with the juniors, and particularly helpful with individuals who need additional guidance with learning a new skill. Finn has also volunteered at TAY orienteering events, such as the club Halloween event and the recent SOL at Dunalastair where he was a volunteer helper on the Start. After the event he was commended in writing for the reassurance and help he gave to an athlete who was late for their start and in some distress. He also did the planning for the club’s recent local event at Black Spout which involved planning five courses in very challenging terrain. The risk assessment highlighted a high-risk water feature, which meant Finn had to trim the courses to avoid it. Finn is very self-motivated in respect of his own orienteering training and fitness, and plans his own courses to use in practice during the week. Having been at Lagganlia he has brought back ideas and training exercises which he has shared with the club. Finn shows considerable qualities of leadership, allocating and directing tasks at club events. He is eager to learn, and has recently taken on responsibility for setting up S.I. equipment at local events. He also helps out with other volunteers in the ScotJOS cake stall.

Finn in action

We are grateful to all the youngsters who contribute a huge amount to our sport every year. Our Young Leaders programme is now up and running with 2 cohorts of Young Coach Assistants having been trained and one Junior Planners course having gone through. A Young Organiser programme is in the process of development. If you are interested in any of these opportunities, contact suzanne@scottish-orienteering.org