This weekend, I attended the Junior Training Camp at Blue Mountain near Peekskill, NY as a member of the support team. My primary responsibility was setting controls for the numerous courses and exercises we ran, though I had time to run three of the four individual courses.
I had a great time, technically and socially; we had a fantastic group of adults and juniors. The eagerness of the support crew to help made the work quite easy, and for me, the weekend was a long, hard technical and physical orienteering session. Big E showed me some of the map creation features of Catching Features (we made a course on the Pine Banks map). The camp was doing a bigger favor to me by allowing me to come and run with them than I was setting controls.
A Critique of the camp:
1. The training was well planned and diverse and made good use of the terrain. I enjoyed all the courses (though the "learn to run on trails" JWOC Denmark training isn't so relevant for me).
2. The organization was excellent. The juniors were divided into groups of appropriate skill. Jeff, Ross, and Sam seemed well appraised on the courses, with Judy Karpinski and Mary Jo Childs in charge of the beginners. Janet and her posse kept everyone well fed and watered. Everyone on the support team - Jordan, Carl Childs, Randy Kemp, Tim Parson, John Campbell, Corinne Porter, Ross, Sam and I - was eager and diligent in setting courses, keeping to a time table, and being flexible with plans.
3. Naturally, there was good camaraderie, both among the young people and the old people and between the two sets.
1. Discuss and practice warmup and cooldown; in many cases, kids (and "coaches") started races cold.
2. Do more individual coaching - while the juniors tended to discuss the courses amongst themselves, it would be constructive particularly for the less experienced juniors to have a more experienced orienteer go through their course with them. There were a number of group briefings, but interactive individual attention would be a big plus.
3. Soliciting feedback and comments from the juniors about the components of the camp would help identify future improvements.
4. Armchair exercises - for example, reviewing a WOC or a JWOC course groups of 4-5 - would add much more mental exercise without pushing the physical limits of what the juniors could do.