Ben Schultz started some orienteering in Kiribati last year and it proved popular.
Ben has contract work in the country and with a lot of quiet weekends on his hands he spent time mapping some areas that were suitable for orienteering. It is a challenge as they have no contours (the highest point being 3m) and areas of jungle can get very thick. The main problem is that the atoll is very thin and highly populated. Still, they managed, with an emphasis on small tracks, and now have a few maps on the main atoll that they can use.
“As you know”, Ben says, “we have no resources, so I printed up controls on A4 paper and had them laminated. People either take a photo on their phone to prove they found the control or they write down a letter that is included at the bottom of the control and submit their paper with all the letters at the end”.
“The first event was small, with 9 people though 7 of those were I-Kiribati (including 3 kids with no shoes). Last weekend we had our 3rd event and had 26 people participating, 19 of whom were local I-Kiribati. The Scouts are now involved and are looking forward to joining again on May 18 where we are hoping for a big turn-out.”
“We don’t have any experienced orienteers, however the locals often have a “treasure hunt” as kids which is similar to orienteering as it relies on a map and finding clues so the conceptual leap to orienteering is a short one.” Still, people tend to go out in small groups rather than individually as it is almost more a community event than a race (though there are plenty of bragging rights at the end!).
He announced at the last event that the next event will be for WOD on May 18th and people are quite keen.
Ben ends by saying:
“We may be somewhat remote and exotic, however we are part of the World Orienteering community none-the-less.”