Northwestern Press

Monday, April 22, 2019

Sixth graders go orienteering at Hawk Mountain Scout Reservation

Wednesday, November 7, 2018 by Elsa Kerschner in School

Bill Dovico, Northwestern Lehigh Middle School, principal, said four years ago he met the sixth graders.

He was told they were taking 180 students to Lake Nockamixon to go find things.

The trip was part of a 17-year-old program in orienteering.

A presentation on orienteering was made recently to the school board.

Teacher David Evans gave the students maps to a place where they had never been before. They had prepared a book about whether or not a place was safe for the kids to wander through.

He said they learn to get along and making informed decisions. Students start at a triangle and move from place to place getting a control along the way to prove they had been at that site.

Sometimes they will follow the straightest line to another site but the closest is not necessarily correct. There are clues along the way.

“We have three different levels of courses,” said Evans.

For students to gain confidence they have a trial course set up at the home campus.

“The first step is orienting yourself to the map. Route 309 is over there,” he said. “You can’t turn the map after it is oriented.”

This year they could not go to Nockamixon.

Maureen Roman continued.

A ranger called and said the park would not be able to host the students. They were hit with the question of how to find another site in three weeks.

The nine sixth grade teachers began brainstorming. We took a rational approach, she said. Dovico sent a message to parents. We had to rely on others’ strengths. We had to find an alternate, develop four courses, make maps, prepare answer keys, prepare the chaperones’ material: recreate everything, Roman said.

Teaming is a key component at the middle school. What they came up with was the Hawk Mountain Scout Reservation.

Teacher Sara Fitzgerald showed pictures from the project. She said students were dropped off at a pavilion with a lawn to sit and eat lunch. A faucet let the them fill water bottles.

The chaperones were out in the woods. They could not follow their own child around. Some served as group leaders.

There was a cope course picturing places no one was allowed to go.

Roman said they were allowed a half-day off from teaching to take pictures and study the topography. We were able to look at the tents and campgrounds but had to stay away.

Fitzgerald said new friends were made. Some teams went in one direction. Others in a different way.

It is a scored event with different values for different controls.

Roman said they get 180 sixth graders out in the woods. I sound the bullhorn and they are gone. Some adults took bikes to check if everyone is all right and is getting back to the pavilion. There are many small trails leading off the main one which can be traveled by a vehicle in an emergency.

“We’ve been there in hot weather and cold weather and faced adversity,” said Roman.

Superintendent Jennifer Holman asked if they would return to Nockamixon next year.

Roman said they had to go really early to set up there and at Hawk Mountain Scout Reservation they could set up the day before. Even though it is private they made a donation to the reservation. Everyone is quiet on the way home.

The vote was clearly for the Hawk Mountain site.

Board President Bill Dellicker thanked them for the presentation and especially for mentioning the teaming at the middle school.