Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Friday, May 05, 2006

Scandinavian versus North American O' club models


A good question from a comment a few days ago:

In your post on 4/27 you said that GHO was implementing a Scandinavian club model. What exactly is a Scandinavian club model?

Let me highlight some of the big differences between "typical" North American and Scandinavian O' clubs. Of course, there are exceptions. Of course, I'm over generalizing. Keep in mind that my experiences are limited (I've only run for one North American club and three Swedish clubs). That said, here are some major differences in approach:

1. North American O' clubs host a lot of orienteering events. Scandinavian clubs host a lot of orienteering trainings. PTOC, the local club in Kansas City (which is not my club), usually hosts two events each month. IFK Lidingo (which is the club I ran for the most in Sweden), usually had 3 or 4 or 5 training sessions each week.

2. North American O' clubs often draw from a big population, spread over a big area. Scandinavian clubs tend to be based on much smaller areas. So, for example, a big metro area in the U.S. might have one O' club (Kansas City, actually has two, but that is probably an exception). A big metro area in Scandinavia -- like Oslo, Stockholm or Helsinki, will have dozens of clubs. Few small towns (say a population of less than 100,000) have O' clubs. But, most small towns in Scandinavia will have an O' club. I ran for a club called OKS Ljungsbro for a year or so. My impression was that Ljungsbro was a town of maybe 5,000 people.

3. North American O' clubs don't have any competitive focus. Scandinavian O' clubs typically focus on relays -- like Tio Mila and Jukola.

There are lots of other ways to compare North American and Scandinavian clubs. But, I think these three comparisons begin to sketch out the different "orienteering environments."

In looking at these three comparisons, GHO "fits" more with Scandinavian clubs than North American clubs.

posted by Michael | 3:36 PM


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