How can a lifelong football fan not look at the game schedule before signing up for a class? I guess this time happened because I signed up before the season started and who suspects a game on a Thursday night?
So instead of watching my team lose their second game in five days, I was sitting in a class I’d been meaning to take for ages: map and compass reading.
Years ago, back when i took the Sierra Club’s Wilderness Basics Course, I was so excited to learn this skill. Unlike most of the other training, they decided this was going to be hands on learning out in the field during our backpacking trip. Unfortunately, that trip was snowed out and they never did make up the lost training.
With my newly found free time, I decided to take the class from REI.
Overall, I learned most of the skills I was hoping for. I went home and showed DH2U how to make a bearing. It was exciting.
The instructor, however, was not very good. While he seemed to know the material, he didn’t know how to use his words to describe the steps necessary for us to do it on our own. If the materials had shown it, that wouldn’t have mattered, but despite the class having been fully booked for more than a week, he didn’t have enough copies (we are only talking 10 sets!). Plus, the materials didn’t show the “how” either.
When we all pulled out our compasses, the instructor recommended I return mine since it didn’t have the needed features – the arrow to “box in” the needle. In looking at it more closely, I realized it had two dots to serve that purpose.
You can see that I’ve turned the dial so that the arrowhead is between the two dots.
In showing it to DH2U, he noticed that the dots would glow in the dark.
I’m glad this last picture was taken in the bathroom and not the middle of the woods, since it shows I was facing the wrong direction! That triangle should be between the two dots at the top for me to be on course. The fact that I can tell this now and I would have been clueless before the class shows that I did learn something, despite the teaching quality.
I sent an email saying I was unhappy with the class. This experience won’t stop me from taking the next level class – compass and map reading in the field – when it is offered next year. I already know it will be a different instructor.
It is as if a whole new world of information has opened up to me. It was definitely worth missing the football game.
Has anyone else made it to adulthood without knowing how to use a compass? or When was the last time you learned something despite having a not-quite-up-to-the-job instructor?