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Show Profile  Michael Posted: 26 February 2007, 8:11 AM  
A topic that keeps coming into my head, I hope that talking about it and reading any reaction might develop my ideas.

On the surface the word might mean energy and other resources, which Helen Clarke and Rob Fyfe among others are beginning to take seriously. Of course we should too, and the "close-to-home" theme that I wrote about in the last NZO is along those lines.

But the deeper significance relates to our size as a sport. Every since we have begun to copy business planning models, we have seen growth as an important way to improve our sport. Ever since we have written plans and made objectives, the number of members has stayed about the same - 1600. It seems to me that we have worked harder and harder (at a cost in our time) to remain at this size.

Now what if we challenged the growth philosophy? We might do things quite differently if we said we're comfortable where we are, lets plan for staying here. If we didn't have ambitious hopes for unrealistic numbers, we'd probably concentrate on making our current activities as easy and pleasant to put on as possible. We'd be fairly hard-nosed about scratching events that involved lots of work and low turnout. They've probably had their day. New ideas would keep popping up to replace them I am sure. For each event or activity, we'd each look at the workload and say, will I enjoy this?

I think I see support for this notion on Rob Crawford's blog, which I hadn't revisited until recently. He may not have intended them to apply to this - after all he was probably the main author of our current strategic plan - but he points out that in relation to population, 1600 stacks up pretty well. Check out ... opinions on ... orienteering.

At the end of the day orienteering is something we do for our entertainment. Isn't 1600 people having a good time better and more likely to last, than 200 devotees working their guts out to produce 1650? And who thinks that the following 50 members will be any easier to acquire?

Show Profile  nick Posted: 26 February 2007, 9:54 AM  
i presume you're not pushing either of the following arguments:

*that by lowering our standards we will magically achieve success.

*that, enjoyment being the prime directive, we should blow smoke up each other's butts (how about 1 year age brackets? medals all round!)

Show Profile  nick Posted: 26 February 2007, 10:59 AM  
If I understand you correctly you're saying that if we're enjoying ourselves without having to work too hard, members will come and go without major impact on overall numbers. That is, that a kind of "optimal value for effort" analysis may be more sustainable in the long term than current efforts to attract new people.

This could work - if existing orienteers spent less time and energy running events they would consequently have more time and energy for making sweet love to one another. Yes, yes, I am talking about sexual intercourse, but don't freak out, don't clam up on us - stay with me here, for the good of the sport - don't you see, why bother trying to *attract* new members when we can *Create* them! Strap on your heart rate monitors and reach Maximum Birth Rate! Think of it, hordes of young minds ready for indoctrination into the sport. Even the missionary position will do for creating a beautiful bouncing baby just waiting to be exposed to (brainwashed) the joys of orienteering. No maps required, at least not at first, or unless you're *that* much of an O geek that you'd set up a little course to navigate around... never mind.

Lets apply Michael's test: "we'd each look at the workload and say, will I enjoy this?" Bang! A+ baby yeah. Every time. You're growing the sport, and having a whale of a time while you're at it. And you don't even have to get out of bed to do it (although you can, and you may like to try it for something different)!

Hows that for optimal value for effort?

Get busy.

Show Profile  Jamie Posted: 26 February 2007, 3:04 PM  
Interesting theory Nick...afterwork beers on a monday? You should be out training!

Instead of running dicky events on the same old dicky maps for beginners we could focus our efforts on making awesome maps of awesome areas to keep the old hands interested.

But would this fulfil our obligations to SPARC of helping to make NZ one of the most active nations.

Show Profile  Svend Posted: 27 February 2007, 3:15 AM  
Michael, your posting is very relevant to our club as we are struggeling to keep it alive mainly due to the small number of members who continue to do all the work.

Rob Crawfords blog - Time and Volunteers - made interesting reading.
However, comparing NZ with a few other countries, he conveniently
selected countries that compared favourably with NZ.

Here is another comparison:

New Zealand: population 4,173,743 - 1600 orienteers

Denmark: population 5½ million, 7,052 orienteers
Denmark is roughly the size of Southland, they have 84 clubs
and approximately 780 registered maps.

Here, as in Denmark, a lot of hard work by a few people will eventually result in increased participation and more people to share the work.

Show Profile  nick Posted: 27 February 2007, 4:21 AM  
i ran home...

i like that Michael trys to think outside the square, but i don't know if theres alot going for this particular idea. becoming insular won't sustain orienteering, in my opinion. best recent efforts have motivated in the opposite direction

acknowledge that manpower/workload is an issue. dunno if i've seen orienteering honestly try to tackle all the obstacles to new members yet. cut a long story short:

cool clothes
good atmosphere
coherent competitions
media presence


Show Profile  HeadHoncho Posted: 27 February 2007, 4:49 AM  
Michael, I think you need to dust off your copy of the SP. I don't think "growth" was an over-riding theme in the current one, or more specifically "growth in membership". As far as support for your notion, I'd agree growth in membership is not the be-all-and-end-all for solving sustainability but don't necessarily believe your solutions are the right option either.

Svend, I didn't "conveniently" select countries - Aus and GB are relevant because of similar heritage and just as importantly Orienteering is about the same age in these countries. Putting it another way, I don't think the Norwegian Rugby Union when doing any benchmarking would look at NZ just because it has a similar population and size.

Nick, keep drinking.

Show Profile  robbie Posted: 27 February 2007, 6:48 AM  
Michael, Ive given up on the idea of going out on the streets to attract membership. We have given it heaps over years with little success. I am convinced the answer to growth in our sport is through schools.The hugh time and effort going into the nationals this year will result in zero increase to our club but the work I am doing with Pukekohe High will add 30 members to our club and some parents will also follow their students. The group has grown from 9 to 33 in six months and we have just won two auckland titles in rogaining I could not achieve the same result by door knocking. Our sport lacks, and has for several years is a promotion person. val and I have a lot to do with franklin schools and most sports have such a person. We lag far behind in this area.

Show Profile  addison Posted: 27 February 2007, 7:27 AM  
I agree with Robbie said about how organising big events practically will do nothing to the clubs membership. With Waitangi however it wasn't about attracting new membership, it was about trying to keep those that already are in the sport interested and challenged.

What I cannot understand is how Hawke's Bay has increased its membership by so much by focusing on schools, yet we haven't had any recommendations or seen anything documented on what worked and what hasn't worked. I am sure they would be more than willing to share their knowledge if a case study was to be done by nzof

Show Profile  onemanfanclub Posted: 27 February 2007, 9:22 AM  
Excellent growth strategy Mr Harris, and as I'm always looking for ways to give my time for the good of orienteering, where do I sign up?

Show Profile  Jamie Posted: 27 February 2007, 11:27 AM  
Schools = growth? ....think of Birkenhead, Putaruru...?

When I started orienteering the school o scene was massive in the lower south island...400 regularly at the Southland schools and 10 or schools competing in a 10 event school league in Dunedin...and now...almost nothing...although admittedly there are about 5 of us still orienteering who came through that process.

And sure some will start again later, introduce their kids to it etc, and thats great.

But I reckon what we really have to look at is maximising the adventure and the continual challenge to people once we have them hooked...remember what it was like when you got to run on a new map every week or so...or in a completely new woodhill or santoft. Remember those names of maps people said in hushed voices that made you want to go there...Naseby, Mamaku, Waikaia, Crater Block

After a while, orienteering gets stale and it all ends up being work. Dreams switch to Scandinavia or Australian Granite terrain. We need to change this.

NZOF needs to get involved to change the economics of map making to allow new adventurous maps to be made in areas away from orienteering clubs to allow orienteering to continue to be a challenge and a thrill for the most experienced of competitors. We need to travel en masse to these areas and camp beside a river and run hard and get on the boozer.

If we want to be sustainable we can take a bus.

Show Profile  nick Posted: 27 February 2007, 12:16 PM  
In terms of where you sign up for a coherent competitive season of orienteering in good weather conditions with a lively and social atmosphere at event centres which are teeming with confident athletes dressed in stylish 21st century sports apparel and who are welcoming of new competitors...

...ummm, Scandanavia?

Show Profile  nick Posted: 27 February 2007, 12:19 PM  
Rob, I'm not here to offend people, but if i keep drinking i'm definitely gonna.

better if i just finish some work and go training instead.

Show Profile  Paul I Posted: 6 March 2007, 8:10 AM  
Jamie has identified a trait in all of us that is the longing for challenging new places, adventure and all that. If we carry on running on the same old terrain people will gradually opt for some other adventure sport.
With the smaller clubs shrinking, areas that were discovered by their members are getting less common. We need anyone and everyone to shout from the treetops if they spot an awesome O area, no matter where it is. Because of the new race formats and sportident smaller maps can now be made, I for one, as a part time mapper would much rather put my efforts toward a small but interesting map in the middle of nowhere than a remap or large ordinary area that's be done a thousand times.
I note overseas that more open, rocky mountain terrain is now being chosen for competions, this was very rare a few years back. I'm sure we all know some special spots around NZ.
Like Jamie has said, it could be made into a great occasion - having to all camp away from it all for the weekend.

Maybe we could, under the quise of a "New Topic" start collecting peoples discoveries that could act as a catylist for further investigation. We also need to get the rest of the O public who either don't read, or don't submit opinion to Maptalk to contribute somehow.

Show Profile  Svend Posted: 6 March 2007, 11:56 AM  
An awesome o area - I discovered such an area 11 years ago in the Mt Aspiring National Park and took two fellow orienteers with me to explore the area, one of them Bruce McLeod. Since then several prominent orienteers and a mapper has visited the area and all agree
it is a magnificent area for a major event.
8½ km2 of open, runnable Beech forest with interesting contour and rock features and some open land.
But who is seriously interested in having it mapped?
The reaction from my own club was something like this: Too far away,
too expensive to map, not suitable for club events.
A neighbouring club initially showed some interest but there was no real enthusiasm for the project.
I went ahead on my own account and got a photogrammetric plot done
and have since done some fieldwork but I keep getting interrupted with work that is better paid than fieldwork. Realistically, it would require a professional mapper to do the mapping at a cost of about $ 20,000.
Such a remote area presents many problems not just at the mapping stage but planning/controlling and event organisation will require
resources far beyond what a small club is capable of or is prepared to commit itself to.

This message was edited by Svend on 6 March 2007, 8:29 PM

Show Profile  Paul I Posted: 7 March 2007, 4:25 AM  
Yes I see there are a number of problems to get through.
At least it is great to know these areas exist should an opportunity or event present itself. Obviously one of the key problems is getting enough runners there to pay for the map costs, therefore an event of the right nature and size must require a great map fist of all, in such a location as far flung as Mt Aspiring NP this would probably need to be some sort of large multiday, preferably an international of some sort. Anyone else remember the Milo 7-days? That was one of the best events in Nz ever, with 900 odd competitors and plenty of international runners. We started at Ch Ch and headed south, using such maps as Tekapo, Craigmore, Gladbrook, Naseby and Waikaia. I think most of these were brand spanking new at the time.
Maybe the sums could be calculated by just using half of Mt Asiring area (for now). It seems a travesty to let Svends discovery sit forever untouched.
When we discovered Mamaku it took years before the whole area was used. At the time Pinelands were a small but active club with little funds, but without big events we would have shivelled up quickly. So we first put our hand up and committed to anyone with a suitable event that we could use the map for. Initially we mapped less than half the area, also letting the remaining douglas fir forest mature for another few years before we completed the whole thing.
Anyway, as I aknowledge, there are many problems to hurdle to get more remote areas mapped, but if we start a database of discoveries or even just things people have seen so further investigation by anyone interested could be made, at the very least these little goldmines will not be forgotten, and one day the likes of Svends Mt Aspiring will be used.

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