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PCOE Outdoor Education Coordinator Don Darue says, “Knowing how to use a map and compass together enables you to find where you want to go, and to find where you are. Knowing how to do both, you can find any place on a map. No matter where you are." Photo by Cary Dingel

Orienteering engages and educates PUSD seventh-grade students

 Seventh-graders from Portola Jr/Sr High School, wearing hats and shorts in the bright sunshine, gathered on the grass at the Taylorsville Educational Center on May 16 to get an introduction to the sport of Orienteering. Don Darue, Outdoor Education Coordinator for Plumas County Office of Education, handed out printed maps of the immediate area, while explaining that Orienteering is an international sport, using a map and a compass to navigate from point to point of a course (usually unfamiliar terrain), with the goal of finding the quickest, most efficient route to the end.

Coinciding with World Orienteering Day events, workshops took place in Taylorsville over the course of two weeks, involving all seventh-grade students across Plumas Unified School District. Through this hands-on learning experience, students worked in teams, fostering collaboration and communication while they solved navigational challenges and overcame obstacles together. Orienteering activities not only promote physical activity but also enhance critical thinking skills as students strategize their routes and make quick decisions in real-time. All participating students received certificates from the International Orienteering Federation.

Reading a map translates the three dimensional world to two dimensions, Darue explained to the students. “You can look at your surroundings, and then when you look at the map, it comes alive. By reading the map, you can plan for obstacles and routes to follow to get to your destination,” he said.

For their first task, the teams would locate sequential points on their local maps, and use a punch card to collect markers from each stop, all while trying to be the fastest group. In staggered starts, student teams made their way around the course, running across the grass and conferring with each other about the best route to take. Once they got the idea of the activity, subsequent challenges introduced strategy and timed components.

After a picnic lunch, Darue treated the students to piping hot peach cobbler, cooked onsite in dutch ovens. They lined up to get the confection, topped with a generous serving of whipped cream. Judging from the smiles on their faces, it was a sweet ending to the day.

Map of the first course the students followed, locating sites marked “old swallow nest” and “smallest tree.” Photo by Cary Dingel
The first team sets the bar for a great start. Photo by Cary Dingel
Mr. Darue baked five peach cobblers outside in dutch-ovens for students to enjoy. Photo by Cary Dingel
Putting the finishing touch on a great day of learning, connecting, and growing. Photo by Cary Dingel

One thought on “Orienteering engages and educates PUSD seventh-grade students

  • That cobbler looks delicious!! Good job Mr. Darue!

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