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No GPS? No Problem for Brewster Students

Members of the Brewster NJROTC who placed first at a recent orienteering meet in Long Island. Provided photo.

If you were dropped in the middle of the woods without your GPS, would you be able to get out by using a map and compass?

Brewster NJROTC students would. In fact, out of seven competing schools, they placed first at the recent Navy Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps Area 4 North 2023 Orienteering Meet at Southold on Long Island.

The top two individual scores went to junior Jarrid Bryggman for first place Varsity Orienteer and freshman Riley Borneman for first place NS1 Orienteer.

Orienteering involves using a map and compass to quickly navigate from point to point in diverse and usually unfamiliar terrain. Participants are given a specially prepared topographical map, which they use to find specific locations. The recent course followed a trail through the woods.

Brewster NJROTC earned points by having the fastest time through the course.

“We were given the map when we got there, not knowing what it looked like beforehand,” explained Justin Stano.

He described how his teammates Bryggman and Jae King, dissected the map and wrote down bearings and distances on a napkin. “We had to learn to orient the map north and then shoot a bearing to the next point,” said Stano. “Then we were able to measure the distance out and keep a pace count in our heads.”

He said the hardest thing about the competition was finding where all the points were, as they weren’t always in the exact spot on the map. “Our team made it through a 2-mile course, while locating all control points in 54 minutes, in rough terrain,” he said. “The next fastest team made it in 56 minutes.”

When Jarrid got out of the woods, he said: “It felt like I just got in a fight with a bear. I’m so scratched up.”

“I regretted not bringing water,” added King.

Ryan Martin warned the others about taking shortcuts through the thorn bushes. “They were very sharp,” he said.

How do students learn orienteering skills?

“We first teach cadets how to use a compass, then teach them how to pace count 100 meters,” explained NJROTC Command Master Chief Michael Campell. “They must learn how many steps they each take, to help them measure distance traveled through the woods with no technology. Then we train in a topographical map and use the course behind Brewster High School as practice.”

At the end of the competition, as the results were called and the Brewster students realized they had won first place, there was a collective hoot. Their hard-earned, first-place trophy – featuring an eagle on either side and three stars on top – now stands among all the other awards in the NJROTC classroom.


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