In general, a child’s ability to read a simple map and connect it to the terrain is not sufficiently developed until at least age 8 (although there can be significant child-to-child variability). OAK currently offers differentiated programming, based on a child’s age and skill level.

Both kids with no previous orienteering experience, and kids who have previously been in the OAK program, are welcome. The OAK coaches will assess each child’s experience and skill level during their first session, and assign them to an appropriate training group.

Parents/caregivers should be aware that siblings registered together in the Spring program will not necessarily be in the same training group.

Sport and stages of childhood development

Our OAK programming is aligned with the Canadian Sport For Life (CS4L) Long Term Athlete Development (LTAD) stages. The LTAD focuses first on developing a person, then on developing an athlete, and finally a competitor. It is of utmost importance that youth experience a variety of sports and games when they are young, while learning how to move and use their body (physical literacy).

There are 4 overall skill-sets that are addressed in LTAD-based programming:

  • Sport technical/tactical/strategic skills
  • Mental skills (spatial literacy)
  • Physical capacity (physical literacy)
  • Life skills

Orienteering is considered a late development sport; i.e. one in which success at the elite level comes from building highly integrated technical, physical and mental skills on top of that early physical literacy base.

Our primary goal in OAK, however, is that young athletes enjoy their time orienteering, gain some useful skills, and remain active for life, no matter where their lives take them!