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True words are not always pretty; pretty words are not always true.

Japanese Proverb

What the heck is ROGAINE?

ROGAINE is not a hair restorer in this context. It's a team based map and compass game that can be played in winter.

Here's how it works: Scattered through the bush are Controls. A control has an ID and a code word. So for example ID "A21" Codeword "pickles" A control is usually a colored square of plastic fastend securely to an immoveable object. E.g. nailed to a tree.

Unlike standard R.O.G.A.I.N.E. not all the controls have the same number of points. Points depend on how far you have to travel to get there, how hard it is to find, how hard it is just to figure out where to look, and in some cases, how long it's been since it was found.

To help you find these you are given a clue sheet. On the clue sheet you will see the ID, number of points, the class or type of control, a set of map coordinates (possibly incomplete), and a two part clue. One part of the clue gives you a general region to get to. The second part gives you the final information to zoom into the control. The clues can be straight forward, or can be obscure.


A21 30 pts standard 721 374 On double birch on top of ridge.

This is a straight forward one. The coordinates tell you to within 100 yards where it is. Once you get there, you have to find the ridge, look for the double birch, and find the control. Write down the code word "pickles" This proves that your team got there.

B11 60 pts puzzle ??? ???. Fence corner at the NW corner of NE/4 Section 2 Township 51 Range 3 west of the 5th Meridian.

To figure this one out you have to figure out how the township land descriptions work. Once you have that you have to figure out where township boundaries are on your map.

P46 60 pts stunt 744 365 Large spruce edge of field. Entire team must touch control.

In this case you have full coordinates, but as a stunt there is an action to be performed. In this case the control is 30 feet up the spruce tree, there are noside branches for the first 8 feet, and you have to boost your team into the tree, climb it to touch the control.

Q19 Navigator. 74x 36y Extend a line from the St. Francis church steeple through the NW corner of the cemetary until you get to a small clump of trees. Control is on a willow on north edge of clump.

The coordinates are only good to a kilometer. But there is unlikely to be more than one church in that square kilometer. Get to the church, get to the NW corner of the cemetery, trace a line out across the fields until you find the clump.

The game originated in Austrailia. In addition a somewhat simpler and shorter version called a 'Score O' is used by many orienteering clubs. What I describe here is the St John's School of Alberta version.

ROGAINE is played as a team sport. Most of this is for reasons of safety. If you wander around in tough country in winter, it's nice to have someone who can go for help when you break your leg. After some experimenting we found that 4 was the optimum team size. In the event of an accident this allowed you to leave one person with the victim, while two went for help, or two people with the victim and start moving with him while one went for help. It also meant 2 pairs of searchers for controls. Two buddy pairs for buddy checks.

Larger numbers can be used effectively, but this places more demands on the team captain coordinating the team. Stay with teams of 4 until most team members have a few races experience. Then you can experiment.

Team members are valued for more than just moving fast. Good eyes for spotting controls. Agility for climbing trees. Map reading skills for planning the best route. Path finding skills for finding the best way to get around obstacles. Trail breaking stamina to go through deep snow. Compass skills. Distance pacing skills. Puzzle solving skills.

Rogaine is probably unlike any sport you have ever done. For most people the longest event is a marathon. A smaller number have done a triathelon. Rogaine meets can go from 6 to 13 hours in the form we used. I've heard of events that went for 48 hours. Pacing is key.