As we approach the end of the year, I hope you will consider donating to Navigation Games. We are a 501(c)(3) non-profit, and rely on donations to fund our work expanding orienteering education in the USA. You can donate by clicking the "donate" button on www.navigationgames.org
, or by sending a check made out to Navigation Games, to 116 Henry St, Cambridge, MA, 02139. If you happen to have a donor-advised fund, you can donate to Navigation Games directly through that fund. For those of you who have already donated, thank you!
Thanks to donations, we survived a long period without programming in 2020. We had to furlough employees for several months; one of them found another job.
In the summer we brought Ethan and Tanairi back. Research was showing that masked outdoor interactions were fairly safe. We added disinfection protocols and PPE to our programs, and adapted our activities to recommended safe practices. It seemed to us that orienteering was a perfect activity for this time, meeting the needs of kids who had been cooped up indoors and socially isolated. We arranged three series in the summer: (1) for a Parks & Rec program, (2) for a private orienteering training pod, and (3) six teens from the Cambridge youth employment program. The last was a hybrid program, but the others were in person.
In October, we met with the PE curriculum team at Cambridge Public Schools, expanding our 2019 3rd-grade curriculum to five grades, and adding online lessons for the 50% who were remote learners. We hired Charlotte to help deliver the classes in November and December. The PE teachers we worked with this fall loved the orienteering unit. We received a COVID grant from the City of Cambridge, enabling remote learners to experience the in-person activities after school. We will publish the lesson plans for our "At Home Orienteering", thanks to an SOS Foundation grant. We have started talking again with other school districts. We are super excited to have received a grant to support our curriculum development, from the Cabot Family Foundation. We remain excited about what is possible for orienteering in schools, and we consider school orienteering our primary focus. Our vision has been evolving beyond teaching a sport to kids, to enabling teachers in innovative experiential methods and incorporating environmental awareness and activism.
Part of what we do is to raise awareness about orienteering. In the fall we presented at several state, national and international conferences about our work with children. All were done online. In January we will teach a four-session online class about orienteering under the auspices of the Association for Experiential Education. (You can read more about it and register here
Tanairi has connected us to a number of Parks & Rec departments in the greater Boston area, as well as to other outdoor education organizations (Project Adventure, Elevate Youth, Waypoint Adventure). In Newton, a collaboration with Orienteering USA, the New England Orienteering Club and Cambridge Sports Union, along with some eagle scouts, has resulted in several new maps, weekly classes, and permanent orienteering courses. Parks & Rec projects are a great way to raise awareness about our sport, and it has helped in getting our school programs going.
In spite of the pandemic, we delivered 258 classes with over 3000 attendees this year. While program fees covered a third of salaries in 2020, we remain dependent on donations. We are pursuing grants. While we need some paid staff to handle the volume of work, we are looking for ways to use more volunteers. I myself am volunteering, and quit my "real" job in April to focus on Navigation Games. Peter Zakrevski will join us as a volunteer intern for a couple of months starting in January. We are happy to accept applications from potential interns interested in volunteering to help with our programming and/or map-making (free housing provided). We're also looking for board members who can help with grant-writing, fundraising, curriculum design, and connecting to new school districts.
Thank you again for your support! It has made a truly positive impact and helped us to make it this far. I am optimistic that we will continue our mission, one way or another.