Makin’ more maps

As part of their Expansion Plan, SAOF held two mapping courses at the beginning of December to teach basic map making skills. The first was held in Jo’burg on 2 December 2012; and the second in Hillcrest, Durban, on Sunday, 9 December 2012.

An enthusiastic group of 12 students were in for the O mapping course – presented by Lisa de Speville and Nico van Hoepen – and held at the Light Horse Regiment in Kelvin, Jo’burg. Wim Alberts, from the Military Skills Team, organised the venue and it proved to be an excellent location for learning to map as the property is a decent size (not too big, not too small) with interesting vegetation decisions and many features.

The participants were a mix with some mapping experience, absolutely no experience, some orienteering experience and very little orienteering experience.

The course included an outdoor pacing activity and an indoor ‘Moving Shapes’ activity. The participants responded well to these. The basics took around 2.5 hours. Before lunch the group did a 30-minute walkabout where Nico and Lisa chatted to participants as they walked around the property. After lunch the focus was on computer drawing. This really seems to be challenging and it took the rest of the afternoon.

One of the best aspects of teaching courses is that the instructors learn from the participants what they do and don’t know. For the Durban workshop Lisa created a step-by-step guide demonstrating the basics of drawing maps on OCAD, mapping software. This compliments Nico’s ‘OCAD cheat sheet’.

A special participant at this Jo’burg workshop was young Ephraim Chuene from Polokwane. He is about to go into his second year studies (Engineering) and is one of our most favoured gems. We ‘discovered’ him through a teacher training workshop held in Polokwane in August 2010 when Ephraim was a matric student at a tiny school outside of Polokwane. It was when he drew an awesome map of his school by hand that we knew we had a mapping talent. He has made a number of hand-drawn maps but this was his first exposure to mapping standards (colours and symbols) and computer mapping, which he thoroughly enjoyed. He returned home armed with printed basemaps (from Google Earth) of his College property, which he’d started to map by pacing distances. He’s quite remarkable!

Ephraim with Lisa at Park Station, Jo’burg

Orienteering is still very new to KZN so we were delighted to have six very keen mappers at this first Durban mapping workshop. We were very kindly hosted in the computer centre at Hillcrest High, as organised by one of our participants, David Gay –  a teacher at the school.

The workshop followed a similar format to before and was presented by Lisa de Speville. Participants focused only on a section of the school property for their walkabout – soaking in the details of ‘seeing’ flowerbeds, corridors, paved areas and trying to decide how to depict these features on paper.

Learning to draw maps on computer is very much the hardest part of mapping and every question provides the opportunity to develop guides for other new mappers, like Lisa’s “Creating a basemap from Google Earth” step-by-step guide that came out of this Durban session.

Workshop participants have been tasked with making a map of a nearby school to hone and practise their new-found understanding of making O maps.

These workshops and bringing Ephraim through to Jo’burg were made possible by funding received from the Department of Sport and Recreation and the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund.

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