AOP teaches compass navigation

Ryan Brown, the outdoor and recreation program director, taught a compass and navigation class on Nov. 3, showing students how to use a compass in conjunction with a map as well as sharing stories about when students could be in dire need of the knowledge.

“In a wilderness setting, it’s important to not have to rely on something with batteries,” Brown said.

Brown created the class to show students the many intricacies of compass and map reading that he hopes can help them on Augustana Outdoor Program excursions or out on their own in the wilderness.

“I wanted it to be very simple,” Brown said. “Just to give people an idea of how they work and how the compass interacts with a map. You can’t really do much with just one or the other, so understanding how they work together is what I wanted people to get out of it.”

Brown covered the various intricacies of hiking and wilderness navigation such as reading stratigraphy lines, planning a hiking route and being able to adapt to changing or unexpected conditions while en route. 

“Sometimes a route doesn’t go to plan — there’s only so much you can really see on a map,” Brown said. 

When choosing a route, avoiding very steep inclines and downfalls is important, Brown explained. He also advised travelers to use the edges of lakes and rivers to make navigation easier.

To prepare students for travel, Brown explained triangulation (locating oneself on a map using reference points) and true north (as opposed to magnetic north). Knowing how to work with both of these skills is crucial to outdoor navigation, Brown said.

“I think this is a way for me to be more confident that I’m using [the compass] right,” said Lydia Teegerstrom, a student at the navigation class.

Brown has more courses planned for the fall and winter months and hopes to gather more student interest in indoor AOP events. Upcoming classes include a rock climbing class on Nov. 7 and a wilderness survival class on Nov. 16.

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