training the grandkids offtrail/map/compass/GPS

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training the grandkids offtrail/map/compass/GPS

#1

Post by BillyBob66 » Wed Sep 09, 2015 3:40 pm

On occasion during recent months, when it's not too dang hot/buggy/snakey and if they are out of school, I have been trying to teach the Grand Kids(GKs) the essentials of topo map reading, with or without an orienteering compass and for luxury/cheating/training, a GPS. Now as fall approaches I hope to be able to get them out more often, especially once it is cold enough for NO snakes. I have been using snake boots lately, but that is not exactly comfy so I am looking forward to some freezes. Which also gets rid of the bugs.

So any how, any one else into any of that? Anyone ever have to teach anyone else such as that? The GKs are 11 and 14. Evey time I ever actually manage to get them out there, they always seem to really enjoy it, but it is hard to compete with today's computer game and surfing addictions, especially if it is hot and humid.

I try and get them to think of our training sessions as computer games, but outside, and mostly without a computer. I say mostly because I do involve a GPS for 3 purposes: 1:For them to use in case something happens to me when we are really deep off trail in our MS jungles, so they can get back out for sure. 2: as a training aide to quickly confirm that they can use the map and compass to correctly figure out where the heck they are on the map. It is a wonderful training tool in many ways. And 3: Reviewing where we went on training day, back home on the computer.

Being it is a computer, naturally the GKs can use the GPS no problems. And of course, the GPS is wonderfully convenient and fast compared to a map and compass. Still, while a GPS can always point you to where you need to go, assuming you have waypoints marked( i.e. "truck parked here" for ex), it still makes it a heck of a lot easier to plan your navigation if that GPS has topo maps loaded and you know how to use/read them with confidence. Also, GPS, being battery operated computers, can give you problems in the field and I have actually had it happen. While they can be uber convenient and confidence inspiring at least until something goes wrong, I feel like having maps and compass as back up and the knowledge to use them (again, with confidence) is the only safe approach. And they are so cheap and light enough that every member of a group can have their own, negating worries about losing the maps and/or or breaking the compass.

And lastly, there is just something special, and confidence inspiring, of learning to travel with just(most of the time) the map held out in front of you, no compass or GPS(though 1 or both are available when needed). Just traveling along through the dense woods realizing that your next expected landmark(according to the correctly oriented map's contour lines) is a drainage(creek/ditch/river) going upstream towards the NW. And 1/4 mile or so later, voila, there it is! And that alone, or maybe along with 1 or 2 additional landmarks(like maybe a ridge dropping in from straight north and another drainage converging from NE) lets you know you are exactly where you thought you were, with no need of a signal from a satellite up in space, or even a trail! I get a kick out of that every time it happens, and I hope someday my GKs will enjoy it just as much. Plus I hope they come to realize they never really have to worry about getting lost in the woods, with or without trails, as long as they have maps and compasses and the knowledge to use them.

Any thoughts from those(if there are any here) who are into the same or are not yet but who would like to be, will be appreciated! (I have not figured out about posting screen shots at this web site just yet, or I would post a picture of our last training hike to hill 450 a few days back, with a brief hang at hill 450 to rest of course!)


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Re: training the grandkids offtrail/map/compass/GPS

#2

Post by Baby Huey » Wed Sep 09, 2015 3:45 pm

That is cool that yopu are doing that. I have been wanting to learn myself. It is definitely a good skill to have.
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Re: training the grandkids offtrail/map/compass/GPS

#3

Post by sarge » Wed Sep 09, 2015 3:53 pm

We'll be doing a bit of that during the Texas Wilderness Ministry Trip on the weekend of 18 September. We'll be showing a young lady how to read the terrain and follow the trail on the map, and some other stuff that can be learned just by looking at it.
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Re: training the grandkids offtrail/map/compass/GPS

#4

Post by BillyBob66 » Wed Sep 09, 2015 9:41 pm

sarge wrote:We'll be doing a bit of that during the Texas Wilderness Ministry Trip on the weekend of 18 September. We'll be showing a young lady how to read the terrain and follow the trail on the map, and some other stuff that can be learned just by looking at it.
Great, that's a good thing for Y'all to be making available! If she masters even a few basics, it will serve her very well in the future, even if she just stays on well maintained trails. I know in the past, I have had one or two occasions long ago where I was hiking along on a certain trail, or at least I thought I was on a certain trail, but suddenly after a couple of hours, I get very suspicious that I am not on the trail I thought I was. I can tell you that can lead to a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach. And I bet I am not the only guy ever to have done that, or to have it happen when following someone else who is leading. All it takes is to take one wrong turn at a trail junction, or for there to be a missing or turned around trail sign.

With the young guys, I try to emphasize that if they can just master and remember 2 or 3 map basics, along with just being able to orient your map using a compass if needed, they should always be able to come out OK.

Probably 1st, if they can just find north- with or with out a compass- and then rotate the map so that north on the map is towards north in the landscape.
Then, if they can just remember that, relatively speaking, the (more) pointy contour lines on the topo map indicate a drainage(ditch, creek, stream, river) and that the pointy lines are pointing upstream(or if no creek, whichever way the water would come from as it runs downhill when it rains)
And, the opposite rule to the above: that the relatively (more)rounded lines are a ridgeline with the contour lines pointing DOWN hill,

and then if they can just learn those 3 things and memorize them(i.e.sharp(er) pointy lines point UPstream), then they will probably be able to figure out where they are on that map. If they are standing on a big old ridge that goes downhill towards the NW, that is a start. Now there may be a fair # of those on the map, but maybe at the bottom of the ridge is a large creek that not only comes in from the SW pointing UPstream to the NE, but runs around the bottom of the ridge and around it upstream turning from pointing towards NE to SE before ending at a ridge. (I am looking at this example right now on a topo map). Now there are not going to be too many of those exact combos. Add one more detail, like the point where the creek turns from upstream NE to SE, the creek forks and the other branch runs upstream straight north. BAM! You have nailed it. The odds are now very high that you know exactly where you are, literally within a few feet of a contour line, but no GPS needed. I love to see the looks on folk's faces when they realize they can actually do this just with a piece of paper and at most a compass. Then we can get fancier measuring or setting precise courses with the compass, or just traveling by following the contour lines on the map.

True, this is much easier in hilly terrain, but even in a flat, swampy area, as long as you have a few creeks or drainages, you can probably figure it out. And it is so much fun, a great game in the outdoors!
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Re: training the grandkids offtrail/map/compass/GPS

#5

Post by Scuba » Wed Sep 09, 2015 11:01 pm

a compass and map are must haves. GPS is dependent on satellites and sometimes your sat coverage might be a little iffy.
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Re: training the grandkids offtrail/map/compass/GPS

#6

Post by sarge » Thu Sep 10, 2015 7:04 am

With the young guys, I try to emphasize that if they can just master and remember 2 or 3 map basics, along with just being able to orient your map using a compass if needed, they should always be able to come out OK.
Yah, we'll be starting with map orientation, route planning, landmarks and waypoints, contour lines, trail blazes, a short off trail jaunt down an old logging road, and how to use the map to get an idea about safe water locations.
True, this is much easier in hilly terrain, but even in a flat, swampy area, as long as you have a few creeks or drainages, you can probably figure it out. And it is so much fun, a great game in the outdoors!
Yah, down here we're in "flat swampy area" territory but, in a way, I think it works towards better map reading. If you can identify a ridge on the map down here, then do it on the ground, it should be a cakewalk in Arkansas.
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Re: training the grandkids offtrail/map/compass/GPS

#7

Post by DuxDawg » Thu Sep 10, 2015 2:28 pm

I teach the basics at home then lay out scavenger hunt style courses for them. Either leave something for them to bring back with them like a small toy or a note with instructions for the next leg. (The original geocache??) Starting out on groomed trails and moving into cross country as their skill increases. Both so they improve their skills and so they stayed enthused. Once they have a decent grasp, go over routes for hikes at home asking what they think each terrain feature will be like. Then go hike it and see.

All types of scavenger hunts used to be popular, especially with jr high and high school kids. Learn skills while having fun, what's not to like?
Last edited by DuxDawg on Fri Sep 11, 2015 5:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: training the grandkids offtrail/map/compass/GPS

#8

Post by BillyBob66 » Fri Sep 11, 2015 12:01 pm

DuxDawg wrote:I teach the basics at home then lay out scavenger hunt style courses for them. Either leave something for them to bring back with them like a small toy or a note with instructions for the next leg. (The original geocache??) Starting out on groomed trails and moving into cross country as their skill increases. Both so they improve their skills and so they stayed enthused. Once they have a decent grasp, go over routes for hikes at home asking what they think each terrain feature will be like. Ten go hike it and see.

All types of scavenger hunts used to be popular, especially with jr high and high school kids. Learn skills while having fun, what's not to like?
That is a great way to do it!
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Re: training the grandkids offtrail/map/compass/GPS

#9

Post by Oldbiker » Sat Oct 10, 2015 9:21 am

Have never learned to do the topal map & compass myself but love teaching the Grandboys what I do know. Got 4 Grandboys. All brothers, ages 3, 10, 12 & 14. There is no competition between computer games & going to the woods. We have our own campground in the woods here on the farm. I can just mention hanging & the 3 older boys are out the door. The little one comes over with my Daughter & Son-in-law for supper & snores. Then they go home & leave the 3 older with me for the night. They have their own hammock & can put them up themselves. I let them gather the kindling & build the fire. I do the cooking but the oldest is starting to help. He wants to go to culinary collage. I bought a 15" cast iron skillet @ the Lodge outlet so we could do our version of Mountain Man Breakfast over our fire.

We do not have BS in our area so outdoor activity is left to the parent or in my case Papaw. I've taught them their knots, building a fire after 3 days of rain with just a striker. The oldest told me he wants to learn how to make various alcohol stoves & learn how to cook with them so it should be a fun fall/winter.


Robert

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Re: training the grandkids offtrail/map/compass/GPS

#10

Post by BillyBob66 » Sat Oct 10, 2015 2:40 pm

Oldbiker wrote:Have never learned to do the topal map & compass myself but love teaching the Grandboys what I do know. Got 4 Grandboys. All brothers, ages 3, 10, 12 & 14. There is no competition between computer games & going to the woods. We have our own campground in the woods here on the farm. I can just mention hanging & the 3 older boys are out the door. The little one comes over with my Daughter & Son-in-law for supper & snores. Then they go home & leave the 3 older with me for the night. They have their own hammock & can put them up themselves. I let them gather the kindling & build the fire. I do the cooking but the oldest is starting to help. He wants to go to culinary collage. I bought a 15" cast iron skillet @ the Lodge outlet so we could do our version of Mountain Man Breakfast over our fire.

We do not have BS in our area so outdoor activity is left to the parent or in my case Papaw. I've taught them their knots, building a fire after 3 days of rain with just a striker. The oldest told me he wants to learn how to make various alcohol stoves & learn how to cook with them so it should be a fun fall/winter.


Robert
That's great! Nothing more fun than passing skills on to kids and grandkids!
Rom8:21the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption23..but..we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit.. groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body

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Re: training the grandkids offtrail/map/compass/GPS

#11

Post by brianb2 » Sat Oct 10, 2015 4:04 pm

My kids are a little younger than your GKs, but we've been spending a lot of time out doors and learning lots of outdoor skills. They're still on knots, basic knife safety, starting a fire. Maps and compass are definitely part of the curriculum.
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Re: training the grandkids offtrail/map/compass/GPS

#12

Post by rhjanes » Sat Oct 10, 2015 9:37 pm

I tried to check your area for any Orienteering clubs and meets. I didn't find anything. I got into it about 8 years back and now do advanced orienteering. We all good naturally, compete against each other. It's a fun activity for people of any age and experience. I'm lucky with my local club, the North Texas Orienteering Association. If you get a copy of the Boy Scout handbook on Orienteering, it was written by our club members. The main author, Ralph, does several "Beginners Clinics" at every event we have. He also goes to the Austin (AOC) and Houston (HOC) and also over into Louisiana. I know he's done clinics for AOC. I've not been to the other events to know if they do their own or he does them.
Check around your area.
Also, check your local city and state parks near you. NTOA set up three permanent courses at Tyler (TX) State Park. And we assisted a boy scout eagle project to set up a permanent course at a local city park.
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Re: training the grandkids offtrail/map/compass/GPS

#13

Post by BillyBob66 » Sun Oct 11, 2015 1:17 pm

rhjanes wrote:I tried to check your area for any Orienteering clubs and meets. I didn't find anything. I got into it about 8 years back and now do advanced orienteering. We all good naturally, compete against each other. It's a fun activity for people of any age and experience. I'm lucky with my local club, the North Texas Orienteering Association. If you get a copy of the Boy Scout handbook on Orienteering, it was written by our club members. The main author, Ralph, does several "Beginners Clinics" at every event we have. He also goes to the Austin (AOC) and Houston (HOC) and also over into Louisiana. I know he's done clinics for AOC. I've not been to the other events to know if they do their own or he does them.
Check around your area.
Also, check your local city and state parks near you. NTOA set up three permanent courses at Tyler (TX) State Park. And we assisted a boy scout eagle project to set up a permanent course at a local city park.
I'm not surprised you found nothing in my area. But I should look for that, that would be just what would enjoy. I have not heard of such anywhere close by. Maybe I should start a club? Is there a national organization I should look into?
Rom8:21the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption23..but..we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit.. groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body

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Re: training the grandkids offtrail/map/compass/GPS

#14

Post by rhjanes » Sun Oct 11, 2015 2:19 pm

http://orienteering.org/ <<<< IOF (International Orienteering Federation, the world wide organization)
http://www.us.orienteering.org/clubs <<< the USA National body.
According to the map on the US Orienteering, the closest club is Vulcan Orienteering.
http://vulcanorienteering.org/

You can note on like the IOF site, Horse orienteering, canoe orienteering, bike orienteering, ski's.......I even read that they had an event in the catacombs under Paris!!!
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Re: training the grandkids offtrail/map/compass/GPS

#15

Post by BillyBob66 » Sun Oct 11, 2015 4:30 pm

rhjanes wrote:http://orienteering.org/ <<<< IOF (International Orienteering Federation, the world wide organization)
http://www.us.orienteering.org/clubs <<< the USA National body.
According to the map on the US Orienteering, the closest club is Vulcan Orienteering.
http://vulcanorienteering.org/

You can note on like the IOF site, Horse orienteering, canoe orienteering, bike orienteering, ski's.......I even read that they had an event in the catacombs under Paris!!!
OK, thx for the links! Vulcan orienteering eh? Without even looking, I bet that is over in Birmingham(Vulcan Mountain, or at least there is a statue of Vulcan on top of their mountain)

Edit: I looked, Yep, Birminham AL(Pelham actually near BHam)
Rom8:21the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption23..but..we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit.. groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body

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