Starting a WIOL School Team

The move from enjoying WIOL orienteering solo to enjoying it as part of a school team can be immensely rewarding. You have someone to carpool with, someone to share course stories and learn with, and someone to hang out with at the park afterward. It’s a great way to spend a Saturday morning, but how do you make a school team happen, when solo navigation is a learned skill that isn't taught in school?

Step 1: Find some friends and hang out at a park one afternoon.

Maybe it’s some friends from a scout troop. Or from your soccer or cross-country team. Or maybe just people in some of your classes you enjoy spending time with. Just get them to one of the parks that offers a permanent orienteering course, print out some maps, and complete a course together, as a big group or smaller groups that each have a map. Then talk about what you liked in the park, and eat food. Who can’t love that?

Step 2: Form a school club.

Maybe it’s all about orienteering, or maybe it’s a complete outdoor club. Whatever your focus, find a popular teacher to sponsor it and fill it with active, adventure-loving people who enjoy getting outside and enjoying the Pacific Northwest. Try out several of the permanent orienteering courses, and show up together at one of the Cascade Orienteering Club events to do a public orienteering course as a group. (Even if you’re running  a WIOL course, you can always go out on a public course too afterward.)

Step 3: Identify the people in your club who enjoy the solo challenge.

You’ll know who they are. They might not be fast yet, but they are self-motivated to complete the course without anyone else’s help.  And once they’ve finished one level of course, they start wondering if they have what it takes to finish a more advanced course. That’s who you want on your team, because they will score points for the team even when walking, and they’ll only get better from there.

Step 4: Create a team inside your club.

But start conservatively. There are six courses in WIOL (Elementary, Middle School, JV Boys, JV Girls, Varsity Boys and Varsity Girls) and all but Elementary have team scoring. All must be on the same course for team scoring. So go for the lowest level that all individuals qualify for, and start with some positive early results.  You can always boost your course later as you gain experience.

That’s it! Share experiences after each meet, learn from each other, and see you in the parks…

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