27th May – 2nd June 2019 is the Ordnance Survey’s National Map Reading Week, encouraging people of every ability and experience to get outside and enjoy our country’s countryside safely, making memories that will last a lifetime.
In an age when almost everybody has a GPS in their pocket at all times it might seem old fashioned to head out on the fells with a map case and compass but this tried and tested method is still the most consistent way of staying safe and knowing where you are – with no batteries to run flat (especially after taking photos of a great day in the outdoors) these two simple items can be invaluable if you take a wrong turn or the weather closes in, even on a route you know well.
This summer Cumbria will once again host “Dragnet”, a 36-hour man hunt competition through 30 miles of Lake District terrain. Teams of young people aged between 14 and 25 will be navigating, trekking and wild camping over the weekend as they avoid pursuers and attempt to be the fastest team to the finish line and the coveted title – an intense competition that many adults wouldn’t be able to achieve.
Many of these young people’s first experience of map reading will have been from their early days in the Scouting Movement, perhaps by helping plan a short hike from base around their local area or looking for a fun route to explore as part of a weekend’s camping. As they progressed through the organisation, having fun and developing skills for life as they enjoy hiking, kayaking, climbing, and many more adventurous activities map reading would have become second nature, not an isolated technique learn in the classroom but a key part of organising any outdoor activity. When it comes to Dragnet and other adventurous activities, they’ll be confident enough in their navigation skills to put themselves forward for the adventure of a lifetime.
As fantastic as Dragnet and similar events are, knowing how to use a map and compass isn’t just for challenge events – living in Cumbria offers amazing opportunities to explore the stunning countryside at weekends, during staycations or even after work! Even a basic knowledge of navigation opens up countless routes across the entire world, enough for a lifetime of outdoor adventure, and every day thousands of people do just that, many of them having learnt the basics as scouts, even decades later still coming in handy!
Do you have navigation and outdoor experience that could help inspire the next generation? Scout groups across the county are looking for enthusiastic leaders who can share their knowledge and foster a lifelong love of the outdoors in young people aged between 6 and 25 – could you help? Even if you can’t commit to weekly meetings there’s a place for you in Scouting, whatever your availability flexible volunteering can be a truly rewarding experience. Or perhaps you love the outdoors but feel you don’t have the skills yourself to truly enjoy it? Supportive leadership teams don’t just help the young people develop their skills, volunteering is a great opportunity to build your own confidence to take yourself and your family on your very own adventures.
To find out more about your local scout group and how to volunteer, visit www.cumbriascouts.org.uk or visit Cumbria Scouts on Facebook.