Early in the morning of the beautiful spring day of April 26, 2015, twenty-eight children of members and attenders of nine monthly meetings (five from Concord and four from Western) gathered at The Cabin on Westtown School’s campus to prepare for an all-day event: ½ day of maneuvering through that school’s ropes course and ½ day of orienteering. Although children in the 3rd through 12th grades were eligible to participate, only children in the 3rd through 10th grades registered.
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In the morning the children were under the supervision and direction of Christine Costa Henwood, Westtown School’s outdoor education coordinator, and her staff. Chris started her program on the grounds near The Cabin where she had the children participate in various games that offered them the opportunity to get to know one another and build rapport. Then they all trooped to the ropes course that is located in the woods out of sight of The Cabin. There Chris divided the children into three groups. For two hours each group wended its way through a series cables, ropes and obstacles that are used to test the physical strength, agility, balance and flexibility of the participants.
When the children returned to The Cabin, they were happy and excited about their adventure where they had built up a strong appetite. A lunch consisting of grilled hotdogs (meat and vegetarian) prepared by chef Aaron Resnik (Goshen MM), peanut butter and jelly sandwiches prepared by Sarah Kastriner (Kennett MM), carrots, grapes, potato chips, pretzels, and “bug juice” helped to satisfy that appetite.
After lunch, Charlie Spadoni (Birmingham MM) instructed the children for 30 minutes on the basic skills a person needs to compete in orienteering – a competitive sport in which participants find their way to various “control points” using a map and compass. He taught them how to orient themselves using the sun, how to use a compass to orient a map, how to read the terrain features and contour lines on a map and how to judge distances. He also went over with them the rules of orienteering, how to read the control point descriptions (that include universal orienteering symbols) on the control sheet he distributed and how to register at each control point by punching the relevant punch blocks on the control sheet. He also explained to them that at each control point they would find an answer to a question about Quakerism or Westtown School that they would have to enter into their control sheet. One about Quakerism, for example was “Which one of the following is NOT a Quaker testimony? Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Commitment, Equality, Stewardship?”
Sarah Kastriner (Kennett MM) then assigned the children to teams of three except for one of four. She did it based in part on their respective ages, maturity levels and interactions during their ropes course adventure.
The teams departed two minutes apart to find sequentially up to fifteen the control points (the younger children were expected to find only the first 10) that were located in woods and fields in the northern 300 acres of Westtown’s Property. Fortunately for the children, they had a very good map to use because Mary Frank, a member of the Delaware Valley Orienteering Association, was gracious enough to walk those 300 acres, select where control points should be placed, and overlaid trails and control points on an aerial map of the property. Mary also prepared the control sheet that had the rules and control description symbols.
An adult or a student member of Westtown School’s Quaker Leadership Program accompanied each team, and they all returned within 1- ½ hours after departure (although a few unknowingly tried to get lost). By 2:45 p.m., 28 very tired children were ready for a snack of cookies and then a ride to home-sweet-home. Before they left, some of them were overheard to say that they looked forward to participating in the event next year.
There were many people involved in planning (which took six months) and putting on the event. Betsy Swan (Willistown MM) came up with the idea of having a ropes courses program. Marissa Resnik (an 8th grader from Goshen MM) working with Pat Daly (Goshen MM) and KerryLynn Resnik (Goshen MM) came up with the idea of having an orienteering program. KerryLynn and her husband Aaron were members of the team that planned the event. Pete Lane (Westtown MM) led that team and recruited Mary Frank of the DVOA to help out. Finally, Westtown School was very helpful in making their campus, facilities, and outdoor education coordinator available for the event.
Sarah Kastriner, Western Quarter Coordinator
Charles Spadoni, Concord Quarter Coordinator