Why we think Young Leaders are important?

As the Jamie Stevenson Trophy hosts the presentation of the Young Orienteer of the Year Award this Sunday, it’s time to remind everyone of just how much young people are doing for our sport.  Back in Nov 2022, we hatched a plan to recognise the contribution that our juniors make and to train them to fulfil those roles effectively – the Young Leader scheme was reborn.  We envisaged 3 roles – coaching, planning and organising and designed courses and club experience logs. 

Scarlett, Finlay and Rona encourage their athletes on a Young Coach Assistant course.

Scarlett Britain who is both a Young Planner and a Young Coach Assistant had the following to say about the scheme:

Within orienteering a key aim is to engage as many people as possible regardless of age or gender. The Young Leader Training encapsulates this beautifully giving older juniors the chance to give back to their clubs and the sport as a whole. There are three courses to undertake: Young Coach, Young Planner and Young Organiser, all offering a wealth of opportunities to develop as a person.

The Young Coaches course develops a junior’s confidence to relay their orienteering knowledge onto others. This provides the chance not only for the clubs to gain more coaches but for the young people to feel they are making a contribution. Personally, I found it helped to develop my leadership qualities and critical thinking skills, vital to success in and out of orienteering as well as allowing me to get to know likeminded juniors from other clubs due to the in-person day.

Another option to participate in is the Young Planners course which allows juniors to dive into the complex world of maps and learn how to plan courses. The course is online – a low-pressure situation and the leaders of the group explain everything in detail. As a result, for me the complexity soon broke down and allowed me to plan an event for my local orienteering club.  The course itself was fascinating and helped develop the more analytical side of my brain but also offered a new perspective to orienteering and control locations which has helped to make me a more accurate orienteer.

These courses do not consume too much of your time, but the skills taught last for a lifetime. Which is why I would strongly encourage any junior regardless of orienteering ability to participate.

Thank-you, Scarlett, for your enthusiasm and taking the time to tell us about your experience.

The course is only the start – it’s like passing a driving test – the real learning starts back in the club where the young person should be mentored to assist with coaching, and to plan and organise events.  The nominations for our Young Orienteer of the Year Award are a testament to what youngsters can achieve given the skills and support they need.

Young Coach Assistant courses are run in person twice a year, one in the North and one in the South, whilst Young Planner and Young Organiser courses are run online in the spring.  Full details of all these courses for the winter/spring training programme will all be available on the SOA training calendar shortly.