Alberta Orienteering wants to introduce Red Deer kids to map-reading and compass skills through races, obstacle courses and other games. (Contributed photo).

Alberta Orienteering wants to introduce Red Deer kids to map-reading and compass skills through races, obstacle courses and other games. (Contributed photo).

Getting more kids outdoors is the goal of Red Deer orienteering sessions

Too much time is being spent on computers, says orienteering leader

Kids used to spend hours exploring the Great Outdoors.

Well, those halcyon days can come again — and counter the popularity of electronics, says Bogi Gyorfi, executive-director of the Alberta Orienteering Association.

Gyorfi agrees with the parents who feel too much computer time is becoming a problem for many young people, who are spending too many hours indoors. “We are looking to motivate and get kids to play outside in the fresh air.”

The Alberta Orienteering Association is offering springtime programs in map-reading and navigation for kids aged six to 12 in communities around the province. Gyorfi hopes to interest Red Deer-area kids in the program that starts in May, under the guidance of certified local coaches.

She knows many young people aren’t into sports, but would still benefit from outdoor challenges to strengthen their confidence, provide exercise, and expand on their team-building skills.

Orienteering can be much like a scavenger hunt, or geocaching, except kids use topographical maps to find natural markers. “You make your controls on the map and you navigate by landmarks and features,” said Gyorfi.

This builds an understanding of how to find your bearings in the outdoors — which is a huge boon to campers and hikers. But Gyorfi feels it also carries over into other aspects of life: “You learn to solve problems together, you are getting exercise, and you are having an outdoors adventure…

“We play games to have fun and develop basic running skills, agility and endurance.”

She hopes enough kids will sign up for the Red Deer program so teams can be broken up in three different age ranges.

The orienteering program includes obstacle courses, agility training and other activities along with map and compass work.

“Our long-term vision is to establish a local club …to continue offering orienteering activities in the Red Deer area,” said Gyorfi. “We hope to grow this community-based outdoor program in Red Deer, where kids can develop competence, confidence and motivation to be active outside for life.”

She hopes to foster a family-oriented outdoor program to engage not only the kids but youth leaders and parents as well.

The six-week session will run on Tuesday evenings and cost $60 per child. but Gyorfi said the association has subsidies and grants available for lower-income families and under-represented groups, including Indigenous children and kids with disabilities.

The registration deadline is April 30. For more information, please visit orienteeringalberta.ca/red-deer.html.



lmichelin@reddeeradvocate.com

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Alberta Orienteering wants to introduce Red Deer kids to map-reading and compass skills through races, obstacle courses and other games. (Contributed photo).

Alberta Orienteering wants to introduce Red Deer kids to map-reading and compass skills through races, obstacle courses and other games. (Contributed photo).