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Orienteering? What is it? Is it a sport? These and many more questions filled my head as we stood ready, waiting for the children to arrive to take part in a RAC Orienteering event.

Well on time the thirty children from various children’s homes arrived. Each was given a T-shirt, beanie and filled water bottle. The children were also not sure what to expect and were even a bit apprehensive when Theo played along and in answer to my question whether there were any wild animals present replied, “Of course! Lions, tigers etc.” I suppose that the massive warthog that charged through the SOAPkidz ranks later in the day fell under “Etc.” but that is another story.

Almost ready to go and equipped with a detailed briefing from Pat (RAC) we knew that somewhere in the bush were ten control points that each team had to find using the map that we were given upon entry. We also learnt that the team that found all ten in the correct order and shortest time would win.

“What the heck are you doing?” a stern voice demanded.

“Marking the control points on my map, just like Pat said we must.” I meekly replied.

“Not now! Wait for the start.” And severely reprimanded I fell back into the queue.

With comments like “Eat my dust” and “See you at the finish” passing between the teams, we were set off on the race. At this stage I must admit to previous orienteering experience albeit a rather disastrous one at Joburg Zoo. There we came stone last, finishing almost an hour after the rest of the field who averaged 20 minutes to do the course. On the bright side, my team got to see many more animals than the other teams.

With this experience fresh in my mind I was determined to do better and we did real good. My team worked with absolute precision and determination. Little 10 year old, blond Stefanie had drawn the compass points on her arm and when I called “Bearing!” with authority like a setter she would point north. “Orientate the map!” and immediately Michaela positioned the map according to this direction. “Next control point?”

“Number 54, North East corner of small knoll” replied Christa my able lieutenant who held the instructions and with this information off went my two scouts Thabo and Richard ranging ahead searching for the control point.

At one stage, whilst searching for a control point, we were nearly sidetracked by a group of people in the distance. We decided that they were golfers searching for lost balls and did not move in their direction. Only afterwards we discovered that it was the rest of SOAPkidz who were totally lost. Needless to say, my team, The Red Bulls, carried the day by picking up the most litter and winning the orienteering event.

Well I now had the answer to all of my previous questions. Yes, it is a sport. Orienteering takes place in beautiful surroundings, requires various skills, fitness and endurance. It is also a wonderful way to engage children with nature. Many thanks to the SOAPkidz volunteers and especially to RAC Orienteers for including us in their event.


Event & Volunteer details

SOAPkidz have been invited by RAC to attend the orienteering event at Doornpoort Sunday the 27th of July 2008.

30 Children from various children homes will be divided into 10 teams and a SOAPkidz volunteer will be assigned to every team. Volunteers must be at the registration table by 07:30.

On the N1 North go past Zambezi off-ramp and take the N4 West (Rustenburg Bakwena-Platinum Highway). Keep to the left-most lane at the Doornpoort Toll Plaza (R7.80 per car) and directly afterwards take the Dr. Swanepoel Road off-ramp. At the stop, turn right and continue over the highway to the farm gate straight ahead. Follow the dirt road marked with Orienteering signs to the event centre.

Flat, wide open plains changing to scattered, rocky hills (and one small mountain) and thickly wooded bushveld. Thick undergrowth in places. Lots of wildlife including Kudu, Blesbok, Impala and Warthog with small herds of cattle in between.

Pick ‘n Pay Faerie Glen will provide hot dogs and colddrinks to the 30 children and SOAPkidz volunteers

please bring the following:

  • Warm clothes (it can get cold)
  • Comfortable shoes (tekkies)
  • Your sense of humour.

Contact Theo at theo@soapkidz.org or 0828872437 if you would like to be part of this fun filled day.

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