Schools Camp fun at Bushtrails

This past weekend, 29 of our Top Orienteering Schools League and Checkpoint Challenge Schools League participants, together with seven coaches and assistants, attended an orienteering camp at Bushtrails in the beautiful Magaliesberg.

At the Camp, our aim was introduce participants to the next level in orienteering. Participants took part in a number of exciting orienteering activities directed at teaching them neat tricks and advanced techniques to assist in improving their orienteering skills.

Expert coaching was provided by our crew of experienced coaches and assistants, many of whom have represented South Africa internationally. Thank you to SAOF President Garry Morrison (AR Club) who coordinated  and coached at our camp with the assistance of Club coaches Sarah (WITSOC), Anthony (WITSOC), Zoe (RACO) and assistants Ephraim and Tebasto from Polokwane Orienteering Club.

As the bus left Randpark for the Magaliesberg on Friday afternoon, rain started and everyone hoped it wasn’t an indication of what the weather would be like all weekend. On arriving at Bushtrails the sky had cleared and we were introduced to camp manager Liz and her dogs. There was then time to socialise and try out the tarzan swing. This quickly became a favourite activity for both boys and girls alike.


A delicious supper was followed by a talk on ‘The Orienteering Tool Kit’ and a presentation on the wider World of Orienteering including a discussion on its origins and the different disciplines of Orienteering.

saofnews150315_3It was then time for a quiz to see which group had paid the most attention all evening.


Many interesting articles are available on eventually developing your own Orienteering ‘toolkit’.

After overnight showers we woke up to clear skies and the sound of many different birdcalls in the peaceful Magaliesberg countryside. Breakfast at 7.30 and then it was time for a warm up jog and stretches led by Garry. The importance of these before running off on your course was emphasised.

Athletes were then split into two girls and two boys groups who went off to their various first coaching sessions. At my station I introduced them to the importance of having to set your map and ‘thumbing’ by having them run on different cone grids. Not only legs were challenged but careful thinking was also required when having to sometimes move around obstacles and even add up numbers on certain grids.

We ended the session with a fun Map Legend card matching game.

Sarah’s session focused on map interpretation and visualisation. The aim was to identify symbols on the map and match them up to the features on the ground. The main focus was on making a plan and picturing what features would be seen along the way.

Zoe explained the importance of using attackpoints. Identifying a unique feature along the route choice and as close to the control as possible, will assist with finding controls faster and more accurately.

The first goal of Anthony’s session was to help the participants realise that racing ahead without looking at their map as they go will not help their orienteering but rather by keeping a more steady pace and looking carefully at their map they can navigate more easily and accurately. This was achieved by first sprinting to a group of cones and then looking for the correct one, after that running at a more steady pace to a second group of controls and as they go along looking at their map to select the correct cone marked on their map.

During the second part of Anthony’s session athletes learned about relocation.In pairs they followed a marked line course on the map, taking turns to navigate without showing their partner the map so he would then have to relocate on the map and continue along the line course.

The second session followed a snack break. Then it was time for lunch, tuckshop and fun and games while forging new friendships. Kids especially enjoyed swimming as well as swinging as high as possible on the tarzan swing.


After lunch our third session, followed by another snack break, especially enjoyed by certain boys who were constantly hungry! By the final session both kids and coaches were all feeling a little exhausted but the weather had at least cooled down considerably. The girls then challenged the boys to compete against them on the grids. It was clear to see speed on its own is not good enough to win an Orienteering race. Thinking before running off and even slowing down a little to plan along the way carefully pays off in the long run.

After a braai it was time to get headlamps and torches ready for our much awaited Night Orienteering event. Controls were out and everyone was ready to go but unfortunately the weather did not cooperate. The rain poured down and there was intermittent lightning very close by making it unsafe to go out. While waiting map puzzles were built to the accompaniment of contemporary piano music compliments of Jeppe girls and Bryanston boys. As the Night event was called off Liz arrived to serve delicious ice cream. We hope to see you all using your headlamps at the Night Orienteering Golf course series.

After another night of heavy rain we again woke to clear skies and a delicious breakfast. Thank you to pupils who helped collect very wet controls that had been put out for the night event. We then bade farewell to the Magaliesberg to head off to Woodlands Office park to take part in a Gauteng Club Orienteering event.


Orienteers practised their newly learned skills on the challenging Men’s and Women’s courses and all coped very well.

An overall most successful and enjoyable weekend of Orienteering. We hope to see everyone at our Gauteng Schools Relay competition next Saturday afternoon at Midstream College. Please speak to teachers and friends about getting your teams registered as soon as possible. Girls, Boys, Primary and Mixed Categories. Mixed teams may include boys/girls, different ages and even different schools to ensure maximum participation.

A reminder to register for the following week Saturday’s Night Orienteering event at Eagle Canyon Golf Course. Pupils are encouraged to participate in pairs and to challenge their friends, teachers and parents to participate too.

Pre-entry only by either entering online or emailing me at


Photos have been posted on the OSL Facebook page