Dan O'Canna (ocanna@ALPHA.CAER.UKY.EDU)
Wed, 22 Jul 1998 11:32:14 -0400
A tool is a tool. Any tool can be used to good effect or ill depending
on the user's skill and the circumstances. Good points have been made
on both sides of the GPS discussion.
My problem with GPS and Scouts is that one of my main use for maps is
PLANNING activities. Getting a feel for the area, relative distances and
terrain features and relating them to a map requires the use of the map
while actually covering the ground. At least for me it did.
In my work I've looked at topo maps for years and use them to identify
locations of coal mines. After getting started in Scouting I got a
real lesson on the difference between a mile of flat ground and a
mile with a 1200' elevation rise. Reading the elevation change is
a lot easier than carrying a 40 pound backpack up it. The Scouts
still remind me of one of my predictions of "only a quarter mile
more" that turned out to be somewhat inacurate.
Now having some experience in the "real" world I feel more confident
about visiting an area I've never seen in person, and only virtually by
viewing the map before heading out.
I don't keep current with the state of the GPS art, but none of the
electronic maps I've seen have nearly the resolution of a good ol'
I prefer to teach the Scouts the basics of map and compass work before
getting into other techniques. As has been pointed out earlier. The map
and compass are self contained, require no outside power source and
in most case are widely avaiable at a reasonable cost.
Now I'm off to try to calibrate my Dad's GPS unit agin. I can't seem
to get the thing to repeat a location any closer than 100 yards. Hmmmm
perhaps it's an operator induced error. 8-)
Yours in the spirit of Scouting,
Dan O'Canna Lexington, Kentucky
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City