SuffOC Juniors can be seen competing at all levels, right up to national events such as the JK, so - how do young people get into orienteering? There's plenty of information available, from the "Cunning Running" Canadian magazine graphic to the Silva booklet (aimed at schools but useful for families) and the British Schools Orienteering Association website. Our "New to Orienteering" pages also apply to all age groups.
The best way to become involved is to go along to a local event and have a go - young beginners can start on the White course, where all the controls will be on paths, and some events even have a guided "String Course" for the very youngest orienteers, when space permits. Learners can gradually progress to Yellow (a bit more difficult, but with controls still close to easy to recognise features such as paths, walls, or streams, or help given by tapes or "smiley face " signs) and so on. Families are able to follow the courses together or adults can "shadow" the younger competitors until they become more confident.
Some Juniors just enjoy orienteering for the fun and freedom of running in the forest, others like the additional challenge of scoring points in competitions. The Club and East Anglian Leagues and Championships described here are open to all, and SuffOC Juniors frequently feature as winners of their age categories in the regional competitions.
Another popular competition is the Essex and Suffolk Schools Orienteering League (ESSOL) - anyone from Year 3 to 13 can take part as an individual or as a school team or club member. Details can be found here.
The annual East Anglian Schools Championships are hosted by one of the clubs in the region: in 2015 it was the turn of Essex Stragglers at Hylands Park.
National inter-club competitions include the Yvette Baker Trophy (YBT) and the Peter Palmer relays. The YBT has regional heats and a final in the autumn whereas the Peter Palmer is a single event, with teams camping or using hostel accommodation overnight and with the first leg of the relay starting some ninety minutes before sunrise, adding an extra dimension to the competition!
For school teams there are the British Schools Orienteering Championships and Score Championships (see the BSOA website): in 2015 the former was held in East Anglia, on the Sandringham Estate.
SuffOC Juniors regularly compete in the Midland and British Championships, and at events such as the JK, both individually and as members of relay teams.
Once they have mastered the basics, how can young orienteers continue to develop their skills to compete successfully in the above events? Juniors can take part in the general training sessions offered by SuffOC and the adjacent East Anglian clubs, and, once they are performing well on "Orange" courses, can apply to join the East Anglian Junior Squad. The squad has monthly training sessions locally and an annual weekend trip to practise their technique in real hills. Up-to-date news of the squad can be found on their Facebook page.
In recent years SuffOC Juniors have been offered coveted places on the national training camps held at Scottish outdoor centres over the summer and have also been selected to represent England, e.g. at the World Schools Orienteering Championships in Turkey and also in the Interland Competition.