By Lucas Loh
With the arrival of the new year, Catholic High Scout Group has developed many new capabilities thanks to the crucible of challenges we have faced in 2021. One example of how we have all grown from the past year is the advancement of online training and engagement that will continue to stay relevant in a post-COVID era.
Integrating New Technologies
With many emerging technologies now available to use, our group has also developed a new set of tools that will improve our teaching of orienteering. One example is our Online Interactive Topo map, where previously this map was an online spreadsheet only suitable for desktop use without any georeferencing data.
The new version allows us to interact with the topo map in the same way leading edge maps services like Google Maps allows us to, with features such as showing your current location on the map, plotting routes, tracing the route you took, finding coordinates of landmarks etc.
Another new technology we are integrating is MARGO, our own in-house proprietary software that will bring our training of key hike deliverables to new heights.
Throughout the years, the assessment mode for hikes have changed many times on many levels, but the one true constant has always been the practice of surveying an area and producing a map based on measurements we took in real life (as seen in the image to the right).
One key issue our trainers and Scouts have faced throughout the years is the lack of ground-truth answer keys for our Map Sketch and Area Survey practices since no human-drawn survey can be perfect without at least months of effort, making the assessment of the accuracy of these drawings highly subjective.
MARGO solves this problem by automatically collecting map data from open source street and satellite maps based on user-input coordinates, then processing and filtering this data to produce an image and PDF answer key to what a map sketch/area survey of the locality should look like.
LEFT: Hand-drawn Area Survey | RIGHT: MARGO-generated answer key
With such as tool, trainers are able to easily identify errors. In the above image, the Scout made slight errors in scaling, and missed out some buildings and footpaths. In addition, this has the added benefit of allowing trainers to assign Scouts any checkpoint without having to create answer keys for every checkpoint, especially in a home-training situation where Scouts can be assigned to practice the survey of their home area instead of needing to travel to a designated location and self-assess their performance based on these auto-generated answer keys.
A new Orienteering Syllabus
Since 2015, our group has been using the same set of premier Orienteering Notes and syllabus to train our Scouts to achieve excellence in national-level tests such as the Chief Commisioner's Award Hike, Venture Cord Expedition and more recently the Pioneer Award Venture Foot Exploration Hike where we have achieved a 100% pass rate since our first candidatures in 2019. Our premier training has also brought home many awards, with many of our Scouts outperforming in competitions such as the 2019 South Area Orienteering Competition where we won 4 gold awards.
It is from a position of strength that we update this syllabus, to meet the new challenges and expectations Scouts face today with expansions into new areas such as Astronavigation and GPS Navigation. It is also a ripe time to include these new aspects since our Troop has matured in the training methods of these skills.
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With all these new technologies and advancements, Catholic High Scout Group continues to be the premier Scout group, now arguably also the most advanced Scout group in Singapore and possibly the world.