Roxburgh Reivers Earlston High School Project
The Scottish Orienteering Association has a small pot of money available each year for clubs to support the development of grassroots orienteering. These sports development grants are funded by sportscotland to enable clubs to make a tangible difference in their area. Roxburgh Reivers (RR) applied to the SOA development fund last year to support the appointment of a club development officer to initiate and deliver their Earlston High School project. The application was successful. They additionally sourced funding from Build Back a Better Borders, Live Borders, Toddleburn Wind Farm and the Orienteering Federation to make the project possible.
The project involved RR hosting orienteering at Earlston High School during school time which was attended by P7s at each of the cluster primary schools as part of their transition to High School after the summer. This was followed up by ‘Come and Try’ (CATI) events hosted at each of the cluster primary schools. The CATI events would then feed pupils into the RR so they could continue to engage with orienteering.
The cluster Primary Schools session at Earlston High School was very successful. With 158 pupils taking part on a sunny day, activities could take place outside. During the session pupils could try out three different activities including linear, score courses and an orienteering maze. The linear and score courses were particularly well received from pupils, who enjoyed using a dibber and getting a print out of their splits at the end. The maze had mixed feedback as some pupils were too slow creating a queue meanwhile others loved it and raced round. The maze format may work better for smaller groups.
Giving pupils a positive orienteering experience in schools is great, however this needs to be followed up to engage them in the sport and get them involved in the local club. In order to do this the next stage of the project was a series of CATI events at Earlston High Schools cluster primary schools. The events were at the schools to take the activity to the pupils rather than them having to travel. If they did need to travel it wouldn’t be far. Come and try it events were held on a mix Wednesday, Saturday and Sundays to suit a range of availability. The CATI events were free of charge to pupils and their parents.
The CATI events took place throughout August and were promoted through the RR mailing list, Facebook and through posters around the schools where the events were hosted. Two of the schools circulated the information about the events through their Parents Group App. These were also the schools which had the best turn out, highlighting the importance of involving their parents when engaging children in orienteering. Pupils were also given a flyer after the first session about the CATI events.
Apart from the first CATI, they were well attended. Over the month 81 beginners attended the CATI events however, there wasn’t a huge number of P7’s attending. Many people commented that they’d always thought they’d like to try orienteering. At one of the CATI events 26 newcomers came along.
Following on from the CATI series RR have hosted one local event where two people from the series attended and ran an orange. Most people who attended the CATI events gave the RR their email address and are now on their mailing list for more follow up activity and events.
Overall the project has been a success and has increased awareness of the RR and orienteering in the area. Going forward the club is planning on implementing a similar series of events for next year and learning from feedback from teachers, parents and pupils to make next year’s programme even stronger.
The club is planning on implementing a schools league next year between the Earlston High School cluster primary schools. This is where an orienteering training session would occur during school time and out of school pupils can attend local events hosted by the club and compete for their school. Hopefully this will motivate more P7s to come along to the events. Hosting a Schools League has been very successful for other clubs such the South Yorkshire Orienteers. We are very excited to see how the schools league goes next year for RR!
At SOA we are very keen to support the development of grassroots orienteering. If you have a project in mind or want to discuss an idea please contact us or submit your applications to Fran.Loots@scottish-orienteering.org. Applications for financial support for club development projects are welcomed from SOA clubs, groups of clubs, regional associations, or squads. Depending on demand, the likely upper limit for funding is usually around £1000.