Climbing to the peak of volunteering in orienteering: The experiences of Malcolm Hilton

Last updated: Tue 6 Jun 2023

Malcolm had not previously planned a Devon League event but had done various roles as a volunteer at different events. Here are a few words about his experiences in preparing for the Ashclyst event in April 2023.

“How can I possibly plan a course when I seem to spend a lot of time in the woods wondering where I am……? I was really keen to do some planning but it took a while to be brave enough to ask how to become involved and whether I had the necessary skillset.

Starting to plan felt a bit like learning a new strategy board game! There were some basic rules I quickly learnt to get started. A mentor helped me to tweak a first draft into a full-fledged course with a few emails back and forth. Then I started to appreciate the more subtle aspects of planning. The sign off process for events reassured me that there were plenty of layers of scrutiny and checking and at no point did I feel the success of an event and course was resting solely on my shoulders.

Best of all – even as an ‘inexperienced’ planner I can appreciate that it has made me a better orienteer. The process teaches you to engage with the maps and think about landform, route choices, attack points and catching features in a way that used to only happen as an afterthought after I’d got lost!”

Footnote: There is a huge depth of experience to help you in the club and it is easy to build up gradually. Steps might include attending course for budding Planners put on within the club, and then shadowing a Planner as they prepare the courses for an event on paper, and then in then on site, perhaps months ahead of the event. Then Planning a simple local event (with a mentor) would be another step to gain further understanding of the process.