Traditional map reading skills not being lost in Moray schools

Map readings skills very much alive in Moray
Map readings skills very much alive in Moray

THE HOSTING OF the World Orienteering Championships in Moray and the Highlands is already ensuring that traditional map reading and navigation skills are not being lost in the computer generation.

Organisers of the championships this summer have acknowledged concerns expressed in a report last week by the London-based Royal Institute of Navigation, who claim that a generation of young people do little more than press a search button on a device to find their way.

The Institute, founded 68 years ago, expressed concerns that traditional ordinance survey map reading was being lost to a generation – insisting that the trained human brain is “infinitely better in a crisis at working out a sensible route and taking in all relevant data”.

However, WOC2015 organisers insist that helped by the high profile afforded to Orienteering through Scotland’s hosting of the world championships this year map reading skills are far from being lost.

An ability to work with physical maps and quickly calculate a path through challenging terrain is at the very heart of Orienteering – and school children in many parts of the country are turning away from the computers and learning once again the skills taken for granted by previous generations.

Mike Rodgers is Scottish Orienteering’s regional development officer in Moray, working closely with local schools and clubs in promoting the participative benefits of the sport.

He said: “Wherever the World Orienteering Championships have been held it has inspired thousands of young people to learn traditional map reading skills and have a lot of fun in the process.

“We have certainly found this to be the case in Moray where schools have grasped the sport firmly and are routinely learning the very skills promoted by the Royal Institute of Navigation.

“We are seeing hundreds of young people being fired up by the challenges presented in Orienteering and many of them will be taking part in the Scottish 6 Days which runs alongside the World Championships this year.

“Who knows – many of these young people could well be competing themselves with the elite athletes from around the world in what is one of our fastest growing sports.

“In the very least I fully expect that one of the legacies from the World Orienteering Championships being held in Scotland will be much greater participation in the sport in schools around the country.”

Promotion of orienteering in Moray schools received a major boost in 2013 when the “WOC2015 and Beyond” project was launched with £5000 in funding from British Orienteering.

A further £11,600 in funding was contributed by schools themselves, Sports Project Funds, Scottish Orienteering and local business. The project built on the widespread interest in orienteering in schools that had been generated by a link-up between the Moravian Orienteering Club and Active Schools Moray.

The World Orienteering Championships will run alongside the Scottish6Days in the Highlands and Moray from July 31 until August.  Inverness will be the main base for the championships with the Event Centre hosted by the Eden Court Theatre.