ScotJOS Summer in Sweden

As well as the 35 ScotJOS members, there were 7 adults to cover the driving, coaching, control hanging and shopping/cooking: me, Rona Molloy (FVO), Liz Orr (CLYDE), Ross Lilley (ECKO), Josh Dudley (MAROC), Zoe Harding (EUOC) and Peter Bray (SN).

The accommodation was nearly perfect (a few more toilets would have been ideal) with separate sleeping areas for girls and boys in the local Scout ‘hut’, and showers and changing rooms (which doubled as drying rooms) + kitchen and dining area about 200m away in the local Tug of War team ‘hut’. The outside area WAS perfect! Plenty of space for football complete with goals, a large tyre swing, places to sit and chat or make use of the free wi-fi from the After-School Club house next to the Scout Hut, all with the added bonus of the local Co-Op being an enticing 10 minute walk away – who needed orienteering?!

But the forests called…

As Lead Coach I had made an outline plan of the coaching for the 5 days with a different focus for each day, building up skills and confidence in the terrain ready for the competition and with Ross, Zoe and Peter we planned the exercises to provide plenty of opportunity for practising, developing and testing individuals’ skills and technique. Many of the exercises offered the 16s and 18s a chance to use 1:15000 as 2 days of the competition would be at that scale. For some it was the first time they had been able to use a map that had been surveyed and drawn at 1:15.

With such a large group logistics was always going to be a challenge; fortunately none of the forests was more than 20 minutes drive away, so Zoe, Peter and Josh were able to join us at the beach/accommodation after training then go out to hang the next days’ controls and still be back in time for the main meal. They put in a tremendous amount of effort and are to be congratulated that, bar one (!), all the controls were in the right place and we could start each day promptly with a briefing that included what the area was like.

Day 1 was a gentle introduction with an area, Stuvbiten, well-used by the local club and which we all agreed made us feel at home. Days 2 and 3 were on different parts of Idala, where we learnt that forest mapped as light green did not mean what we expected and although it was quite dark in there, the mature pine trees provided a dense canopy so that the forest floor was as if someone had come and swept it clean!

Days 4 and 5 were on different parts of Dotetorp but when I say that the full map at 1:15 was A3 size you can imagine that we were not overlapping at all. Whereas the first 3 days had been very typical Swedish forest with a lot of boulders, marsh, mainly natural pine forest with bilberry ground cover, this area was typical of a different type of Scandinavian terrain – huge areas of ‘flat’ bare, rounded rock with birch, bog myrtle and some pine scattered between.

Peter, Zoe and Josh were tireless in the way they were always ready to go out in the terrain with groups and individuals which was greatly appreciated by everyone. Meanwhile Rona, Ross and I were fully occupied in talking through exercises, checking out/in and getting out in the terrain ourselves so we were able to lead coaching groups each evening.

And so to the competition. This was less than 10km from Frillesas with a middle race on Friday evening and two long distance races on Saturday and Sunday with the added excitement of a chasing start on Sunday. The organisation was slick and made everything easy for the competitor. One thing they couldn’t quite manage was the weather which was driech on Saturday; the juniors used it as an excuse to see how many they could get in one group shelter (a lot!). All the local contacts, made through the Hallands 3 Days Co-ordinator, were extremely welcoming and helpful.

At the prize-giving, the announcer got used to saying Scottish Junior Squad as there were several prizes in each age-group (down to 23rd place in some!)  Grace was the highest placed with a podium finish, 2nd in W16.

When we weren’t orienteering or playing football etc , we enjoyed the local beaches, gave an impromtu performance of scottish dancing at an ‘international meeting’ evening, got stuck in with washing up and on the last day endured the ‘Last Blast’ devised by Sam, Ewan and Alex who will be moving on to M20 next year.