Orienteering club OK Hedströmmen’s youth leader, Åke Larsson, rolls his car in the parking lot in front of the club house in the small village Skinnskatteberg (Sweden) four hours before the weekly youth training starts. The maze has to be labelled with plastic bands, the lanes must be shovelled free of snow, the SI units are to be placed, maps sorted and the electronic system has to be set. It is easy to tell that he is one of SOFT’s IT coaches as well.
Orienteering in a maze has become a highly appreciated form of training by the youngsters in the club. It’s an incredibly playful way to learn orienteering or to navigate from A to B. Continuous map contact, lots of directional changes and route-demanding legs are great training the youngsters face during the session. Maze-O improves the knowledge in a fun way to fit the map, make smart route choices and always have eye contact with the map. Brilliant!
Nine different courses in the mirror-faced maze allow everyone to run at the same time without getting help from each other. The final course is carried out in both mazes with chasing start. “Self-chosen route in unknown terrain, the focus of the mind during bodily exertion, quick decision making during exciting competition”. Maze-O has a lot of the soul of the orienteering!
All weeks except school holidays weeks, Åke implements some type of training with the club’s youngsters. As he lives 50 km from the club house, it adds up to many miles during the year.
–But it doesn’t matter, because to watch the joy of youth every time we meet is worth its weight in gold, Åke says with a wide smile.
Normal O-technique training is of course difficult to implement during the winter. Maze-O or indoor orienteering are two very good alternatives to train the basic technique of our sport; fit the map to the terrain, route choice assessment and map contact.
Åke’s commitment as a youth leader in OK Hedströmmen is also a way to pay back to the club. His development as an orienteer and as a person during his youth and junior era was absolutely crucial thanks to passionate leaders in Åke’s surroundings.
– ” I know that commitment and passion create energy for development and good fellowship. Thanks to these fun winter exercises, we keep the group together and we organise an appreciated youth activity. When the kids grow up, moving from Skinnskatteberg for study and work, we know that they have a lot of great memories and wonderful experiences from the club’s activities for the rest of their lives” , Åke Larsson concludes.