Information about shadowing
Orienteering is a fantastic activity for juniors (and adults), helping to develop confidence and problem solving skills, as well as being very enjoyable.
Initially, juniors may experience orienteering as part of group, but as juniors progress towards running on their own parents/guardians of junior school age children will still want to accompany or follow their child to ensure safety. This is what we mean by ‘shadowing’. Both yourself and your junior will need separate maps to do this successfully.
Juniors aged 2 to 6. Once a child can walk, they can orienteer, but at this age the accompanying adult(s) will be doing most of the navigation. Juniors will enjoy holding the map and punching the controls, and may start picking up some of the details from the map. You may find that the orienteering is delayed by visits to interesting ditches etc which is fine and all part of the adventure.
Juniors aged 6 to 11. At this age juniors will increasingly be able to take control of the navigation on the easy ‘yellow’ course. At first for one or two controls, eventually for all the course. It’s tempting to lead the way, but in the long run it’s best to let the junior make a few mistakes. If you see them make a mistake you can always ask “where do you think you are” or "what path junction is the one just ahead" after a few minutes and more often than not they will realise their mistake. Controls are normally less than 300 metres apart, so going back to the previous control is often a good way to relocate.
As your junior increases in confidence, it makes sense to hang back increasing distances, but remain in sight, or let the junior complete the last 1 or 2 controls independently.
Eventually a junior of this age may feel confident enough to compete on their own, and this can heighten the sense of adventure. Juniors are allowed to carry a mobile phone at our events and ring you should they need your assistance, and you can ask for an extra map in case this happens. Remember that mobile phone reception is not guaranteed in all our areas, so they should feel confident using other strategies to find their way to the finish (eg returning to previous controls, or following a safety bearing to the area edge such as a perimeter road).
It’s fine for shadowed juniors of this age to compete in individual leagues. The guidance is that juniors competing for the top positions in the Kent Orienteering League can be shadowed, so long as they are doing most of the navigation.
Juniors aged 12+
Secondary school aged pupils will be more independent and the period of shadowing may be quite short. When a junior progresses on to the harder orange and light green courses, you may wish to shadow them again for a few events until they are confident at competing at this level. You can also ask to see the course map before the course to check whether you think the course is too challenging/not challenging enough for your juniors.
Juniors of this age may also benefit from competing in a pair, especially in more challenging areas (register as two individuals). Mobile phones can also be carried (reception not guaranteed, and the junior should be able to return to the start/finish using other strategies such as safety bearings and returning to the previous control).
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