Free Map, Compass & Survival Training for MA Residents
The MA Hunter Education Program runs
a map, compass & survival program which is well suited to anyone who's
thinking about going for a walk in the woods. The one-day program is free to MA
residents and covers the basics of land navigation--map reading, compass use,
and the combination of the two using the Silva 1-2-3 system.
The morning portion of the course was spent in the classroom, where state volunteer instructors covered the basic concepts of land navigation. The classes emphasized the use of baseplate compasses because they can be placed directly on a map and used for course plotting. The maps provided for coursework were a combination of standard USGS maps and computer-generated close-ups of the area around the Hunter Education Headquarters building.
After breaking for lunch, students went outdoors to put the land-navigation concepts to use. The state's land navigation proving grounds feature an impressive 15 routes covering two square kilometers of mixed forest and wetland terrain. Students were broken into teams of three and given a series of 6 to 7 points to follow. Instructors followed the groups to monitor their progress on the routes, but otherwise did not interfere with their navigation efforts. For students who'd started the day with no concept of land navigation, finding their way back to the classroom building had to be the most rewarding part of the day.
The remainder of the day was spent covering some basic survival strategies. Instructors discussed a list of good survival items (all of which are part of the CMSART pack list), fire starting techniques, and shelter building.
In all, this was a very well run course, and the instructors did a great job of introducing students with no prior orienteering experience to the basics of the map and compass. Highly recommended for recreational outdoors folk. It also goes without saying that there is a great opportunity here for CMSART to take the survival training portions of the MA Hunter Education course and develop them into a course on how to stay safe and be found if you become lost in the woods.
N. Harrison Ripps ~ CMSART Member