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Harker Heights Evening Star
Harker Heights Evening Star

Orienteering teaches navigations skills

Orienteering teaches navigations skills

By Shannon Myers

Thursday evening, the Harker Heights Parks and Recreation program, Get Outdoors (GO) presented an orienteering class at the Purser Family Park.
“Orienteering is basically getting from one point to another with limited information and no GPS, without having a really defined set of guidance like street names, (and) without the normal stuff you would use on a daily basis. You get a basic map and a compass,” said class instructor, Andreas Wooten, retired Army and volunteer with Texas Master Naturalist, Central Texas Chapter.
The orienteering event was created based on feedback from GO Heights participants and members, wanting more information on important outdoor skills and knowledge in interacting in the wilderness.
“It’s a safety skill, I call it. It would be really benefitial if you get lost in the woods,” said Sarah Mylcraine, event coordinator for Parks and Recreation.
Although technology has provided easy and mostly accurate methods of navigation, learning and practicing basic navigation skills can still be useful in everyday life. Orienteering can even be lifesaving, especially when technological aides fail, are incorrect, or are unavailable.
“People get lost all the time. These skills will help someone determine where they’re at and help get them to point A to point B, helping them from being in a lost situation to where they can either be found or to somewhere they recognize and can get themselves out,” said Wooten.
Class participants were given a map, compass, and string. The class was shown how to read different kinds of maps, the symbols used and how to use a map to interpret the terrain of an unknown area. Wooten demonstrated how to set a compass and read a barring.

Photo by Shannon Myers Instructor Andreas Wooten demonstrates how to set a compass at the Go Heights Orienteering Event.

Photo by Shannon Myers
Instructor Andreas Wooten demonstrates how to set a compass at the Go Heights Orienteering Event.

“I like learning about it, I just like learning a lot. It’s good just in case if you get lost and if you didn’t know it, you’d just be lost and if you didn’t have a cell phone and you had a map, but you just don’t know how to read a map, you couldn’t go anywhere,” said event participant, Ruby Anton, 7.
Ruby came along with her mother and grandmother who is also a member of Texas Master Naturalists.
“I think it’s important for her. I think this generation is getting raised to completely rely on technology. We really want to remind her that technology isn’t always going to be around and she needs to be aware of her surroundings and respect nature. So, it’s important in our family that we get involved in activities like this,” said Nolanville resident, Kayte Anton, mother of Ruby.
One of the most important skills covered during the orienteering class was how to establish a pace count into meters in order to measure how far a person travels. Event goers learned how to get to a point then reorient themselves to begin another set point and to return to the starting point with the help of instructor Wooten. The event covered 1.5 miles within Purser Park.
“Orienteering is a perishable skill. If you don’t do it from time to time, you will forget how to do it or not as skilled in it as you used to be,” said Wooten.


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