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YSTOP – three essential skills for not getting LOST

Laura Zeno and I did an afternoon session with the grade 8 YSTOP students last Monday. The goal was to improve our map reading, compass use and tree identification.

Why? Well, if you know how to do all this, you should never get lost. It turned out that only one of the 32 students and teachers in the room had NEVER been lost. We figured out, that this might mean that out of a crowd of 1000 people, only perhaps 30 will be worth taking directions from! Getting lost is normal, so how do you work around it?

Kurtis, in Grade 8, described how he always notes landmarks, directions, and distances when he is hiking in the bush. He makes a mental map. Laura told us about asking for directions when she and a friend got lost in downtown Toronto. We listed famous explorers, and asked why they are mostly men, and how most of these Europeans, like Cartier and Champlain, in fact relied on the help of local peoples to find their way around. We looked at maps from York University's map library and learned about scales - large and small. We discovered that students lived around Lake Simcoe in the north and in Toronto, near Lake Ontario in the south.

The students all got a really useful gift - a carabiner key ring with a compass, and I gave them homework of watching one of my favourite movies, "Romancing the Stone", in which a tree is an important landmark on the treasure map. Go Joan Wilder!

Dawn Bazely