Course Setter's Workshop and Training @ Lakeside Park 1/4/2009

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People of all ages and persuasions working together, learning from and teaching each other. It was an awesome sight at the course setting workshop, and that felt satisfying. I developed a new course setting curriculum specifically for this event. I will be publishing it on the terraloco website and tweaking it periodically as I continue to learn from others about the art of course setting. To create the presentation, I reflected on my experiences, and I read up on all the resources I could - Adrian Zissos's guide, Evan Custer's guide, and the array of documents at the British Orienteering Federation's site. If you know of any resources I haven't listed, please inform me.

Most of all, I've learned what I've learned from experience completing different orienteering courses, evolving and adapting my style of course setting as I incorporate design practices I found to be an effective, fun, and a fair test of navigation skills. Steve Gregg and Tapio Karras pioneered the use of "butterfly loops" at BAOC events, for example. Perhaps some of the 23 participants will pioneer new styles of their own in the future!

We learned quite a bit at the workshop from each other. Table groups of five or six had small group discussions and did the activities together, and we often shared out with the large group. The workshop was presented from an orienteering perspective, and the adventure racers shared some of the best practices from adventure racing - like putting the challenging navigation towards the beginning of a long 12 hour or 24 hour race, since participants are too tired to appreciate that towards the end of races.

The icing on the cake: the course setting exercises. Interesting courses were developed, set, and tested on the Lakeside map by the participants, and then they tested and commented on each other's courses. Some people showed up just to train and had the chance to try the courses out as well.

In the future, I look forward to more events where we can plan and set courses for each other at the event. I'd like to organize periodic events like this for the upcoming months of the year where we have more daylight, for after work trainings. So, stay tuned for opportunities to practice your course setting skills!

Thanks to Wendy Johnson and the staff of Oakland Parks and Recreation for taking care of our room reservation and setting up the room for us. Barbara Robben and Donato Polignone helped pickup extra streamers and flags.

And many thanks to all the participants for bringing their good energy, enthusiasm, and teamwork skills to make the workshop an enjoyable experience for all.