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Spring Scout-O, Hale Reservation, Westwood, MA
April 17, 2021
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Despite the chilly drizzle, approximately 275 scouts came out for our first COVID-era Scout-O at Hale Reservation. In a first for Scout-O, timing was electronic and contactless via QRienteering (scanning QR codes to start/finish and at each control), meaning the scouts got instantaneous results and the scoutmasters could follow their scouts realtime on the courses. (This was useful as the day wore on and some scouts had not returned.)

Instruction this year was done using only the mini courses of 1, 2, or 3 controls, with 70 starts. This really helped to limit the number of instructors needed and to acclimate the scouts to the QRienteering system, preventing many mistakes later. Overall 44 groups went out on the 2 White courses, 41 groups did the 2 Yellow courses, and 15 challenged themselves the Orange, for a total of 100 groups across the 5 courses. SignUp Genius worked like a charm to limit arrival times to 25 individuals per 30 minute block from 8:30am-2pm, making life much calmer for the volunteers and wisely limiting the amount of inter-group mixing, though it also limited some of the social opportunities for the scouts - hopefully we can recapture that aspect in future Scout-Os.

All this orienteering fun would not be possible without lots of volunteer help. Big thank you to Bud O'Leary for organizing the mini courses and instructional area, and manning them all day. Pete Lane and Jim Paschetto get extra points for slogging through the wet snow on Friday to get 50 controls hung for the event, as well as being around to help out on the day-of as needed. A big shout out to Bob Rhedus, Ryann Smith, Cary Chiarelli & Channon Ames for helping teach scouts about orienteering, and to Bruce Wester for helping with start/finish the whole day. Control pickup was handled by Pete & Bruce & Channon, all of whom wisely left alone the controls for the two-week Hale BYOM which immediately follows. A very special note of thanks goes to Mark O'Connell, the computer wizard who wrote the QRienteering software that made the whole event possible (though we still wonder if there is a connection between his code writing and his miraculous first place finishes!).

Once we forget the work involved and only remember the joy of seeing scouts learning orienteering, we will start organizing Fall Scout-O at Nobscot Scout Reservation, October 30-31, 2021. We are always looking for helpers, no orienteering experience required, and we are always looking for feedback to make this more engaging for the scouts.