New program introduces kids to orienteering

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Outdoor Adventure Airdrie is a new program presented by the Alberta Orienteering Association (AOA) that will provide another opportunity for children to stay active this fall.

“We found that our sport – orienteering – fits really good to get kids outside and moving and letting them explore nature on their own,” said Bogi Gyorfi, executive director of AOA.

Gyorfi said the Outdoor Adventure program began in Cochrane two years ago as part of partnership with Be Fit For Life Network, after a lack of resources and programs to get kids outdoors was identified. That pilot project was successful, and after receiving positive feedback from residents of Cochrane, she said, AOA decided to expand the program to Airdrie.

For those unfamiliar with the sport, Gyorfi said, orienteering is an outdoor activity where individuals navigate parks or forests using a map that leads to various checkpoints. Orienteering can be done as a casual activity or as a competitive sport.

Besides promoting physical activity, Gyorfi said orienteering also stimulates the mind through decision-making, and teaches skills such as compass and map reading that kids might not be learning elsewhere.

“That’s what a lot of people like about it, that it’s kind of going back to the roots and enjoying that you’re capable of reading a map without using technology,” she said.

The program will take place at Nose Creek Park on Mondays from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., starting Sept. 17 and running until Oct. 22. The deadline to register is Sept. 14., and will cost $65 per child. Gyorfi added activities will be guided by local leaders.

Outdoor Adventure Airdrie will provide programs for four age groups – kids aged five to six, seven to eight, nine to 10, and eleven and up. According to Gyorfi, there is no age limit.

“It’s usually easier to start a kids’ program, but we welcome older age groups,” she said. “In the future, we’d like to establish even a program for adults.”

Gyorfi said her organization hopes the new Airdrie program will be as successful as the one established in Cochrane, and that both will lead to a long-term presence in the communities. She added she would like for the program to be a gateway for kids to find their way into the competitive side of the sport.

“The goal is to bring it to the community and, hopefully, it will pick up and engage not just the kids, but also the leaders and parents,” Gyorfi said.

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