Orienteering is a sport that is not well-known, it could even be described as “niche”. Many people are not exactly sure what it involves. The aim is to complete a course by visiting the checkpoints (controls) in the right order, armed with a map and compass. The fastest person wins. It also has the benefit of being a sociable, outdoor sport which promotes physical fitness and well-being with an appreciation of the natural environment. What’s not to like!
As lockdown restrictions started to ease, we started to think about how we could expand our profile in the local area – Northern Navigators is an orienteering club based in County Durham. Thanks to Active Valleys and support from Club Durham, we were able to put on a series of three events with the aim of attracting newcomers to orienteering. Our target audience was juniors and families; we made good use of social media and Active Valleys promoted to the local schools.
The first event was at Aykley Heads where we were pleasantly surprised to have 39 people recording a result (in reality, there was probably 50% more as most people took part in a group and were recorded as one person in the results), 15 of which were juniors/families.
Our second event at Broompark picnic area attracted 45 competitors but again, a lot more people took part that were not recorded individually. This time we had 24 juniors/families and were very pleased that nine people came back for a second go.
The final event was in Bearpark Colliery Woods and we were delighted to register another 45 individuals in the results, of which 25 were juniors/families including 11 returning after attending at least one of the previous events. We estimate that over the course of the series we have attracted close to 200 participants which is fantastic. All results can be found on our website: www.northern-navigators.org.uk.
We are really encouraged by the success of these Come and Try It events and are now thinking about how we can build on this in the coming autumn. We have since seen a substantial increase in attendance at our weekly club night as well as enquiries about club membership, over half of which were from families so all in all, a great result. Follow us: https://www.facebook.com/NNorienteers
Article by Debby Warren, Chairperson, Northern Navigators.