I have been trying to start one for a year now at my high school and it has been tough. For reference we have around 1000 students and our local club is based about 20 minutes away
(North Oldham High School in Kentucky)
Sorry, I put the discussion as undefined, I didn't know how to ask
1. Make it social. Incorporate map and classroom study and simulations into the social elements.
2. Have defined practices. Maybe 1 or 2 a week. Build skills slowly.
3. Have local maps. Shoot for 3 (sprint, park, and forest)
4. Have a season with a defined start and end. Organize events around that.
5. Practice between XC and track seasons. Do races at OL or OCIN religiously during these weeks.
6. Have 1 big event you get hyped for.
7. Keep it fun.
8. Pray. It takes God to intervene in order to keep orienteering working in the US. Only the tough survive. In other words, don't wast time on the weak, they will inevitably be left behind. Your time is too precious to waste on the whiners, and besides, God forgives:) Remember, 3 passionate orienteers is better than 100 who are being death-marched.
Good luck Ian! I'll see you in March (at least you better be coming out to Eastern WA!
If you don't try, you can't fail.
Ian that is a good question and one that has stumped us for many years. Why are clubs such a strong structure in European orienteering but so weak -with a few exceptions - in the US and Canada.
You asked such a good question I had to look up your AP profile. Folks this guy is the real deal, 15, maybe 16 years old and he is already turning in times in races comparable to Ali Crocker, Ben Brady, etc.
Take his question seriously.
I think an important key to forming a club, attracting people in your area to orienteering is the same as for any marketing: appeal to what your potential orienteers would want in a club, not necessarily to what you want. You may want a few buddies to train with and go to competitions. But others may be looking and saying "that Ian is so good. I'll never be as good as him. No way."
So pick a niche and go after them to start. Does your school have a JROTC unit? I don't think so but if they do offer to train them up? Does the school have an outdoor ed club? They'll want a different orienteering than you want but they are a market. Out in the community are there scout groups looking to meet badge requirements? Are there home school groups looking for activities for their kids? They may not produce a lot of members for your club but they can help build a profile and resources by way of paying for your services.
Ask OLOU if they will help you get started. I know a small club that started as a satellite club of an established one, concentrated on a niche market, eventually spun out to be its own club and now registers about 2,500 starts a year.
Every club in the US and Canada should be looking to nurture satellite clubs that might eventually spin out on their own.
Also it is important for your potential club members to have something to do.
You are fortunate in your area to have a beautiful woods with nice topography and a great trail network. Do you have an orienteering map there? I have the start of one that you are welcome to if you need it. Get you potential orienteers out orienteering.
Do you know what else hurts competitive club development in North America? It has nothing to do with you or is anything that you can change on your own. In the old days people would recruit others to come join their club and go to events so they had a chance to win one of the team prizes at events. Now that incentive to bring others is gone and not many, if any, seem interested in bringing it back.
Here's what I mean. You and your family are the star orienteers in town. You ask others to come to the next OLOU event with you but they say no. They know they can't have a chance against you guys, But if you could say to them, hey join us at the next event; we'll have a chance at winning a team prize then they may just say 'sure. we'd love to help and to compete WITH you guys. So encourage the other clubs to get back in the team competition game.
I know a small club that started as a satellite club of an established one, concentrated on a niche market, eventually spun out to be its own club and now registers about 2,500 starts a year.
Ian, I got to wondering why you wanted to form an orienteering club at your school. There is a club just down the road in Louisville. Then the thought occurred that there are pretty good school team competitions coming up at the Georgia Navigator Cup and the OUSA Junior Nats. Perhaps you want your school to be part of those competitions. With what you have already you would be pretty competitive, I think. I don’t have your e-mail address or I would write privately. But if you could use advice for those goals send me an e-mail and I’ll share some advice. gordhun- at – rogers dot com
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