Outdoor Education: Look Back to Stay Oriented on Hikes

Outdoor Education: Look Back to Stay Oriented on Hikes

Dick Moss, Editor, Physical Education Update

One reason people become lost in the woods on outdoor excursions is that they weren't watching their surroundings as during their hike. Instead, they were focusing on the feet of the student ahead of them, or chatting instead of observing.

Here are three things hikers should pay attention to in order to maintain their orientation in the woods.

The Sun
The first step is to notice the placement of the sun as the hike begins. For example, are you walking into the rising sun (East), away (west) or at right angles (north or south)? This will give you a basic initial bearing.

Then, as the hike progresses, notice any major landmarks. For example, a mountain top, water tower, stream, pond or hydro line. And remember where you are in relation to your direction of movement. For example, were you to the left or right of the path as you were walking? Realize that you will be on the opposite side on your return.

Look Back
Finally, remember that the trail will look different on your return - when you are walking in the opposite direction. So, occasionally look over your shoulder to see what the trail looks like from the perspective of your return trip.

Lesson Plan
You can incorporate a hike into a physical education lesson plan by asking your students to list the landmarks they observed and their overall direction of movement. If there are forks on the trail, you can ask them -- at the time - to record the fork they believe they should take, and why.

Reference: Hap Wilson, "How Not to Lose It." Cottage Life, September/October 2005. http://www.cottagelife.com

© 2016, Physical Education Update, www.peUpdate.com

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