envelope icon phone icon

right arrow Home

right arrow Rules

right arrow Training

down arrow Manager's Handbook

bullet Assumptions

bullet Data & Directories

bullet Year Start

bullet Setting Controls

bullet Controls Database

bullet Race Paperwork

bullet Race Briefings

bullet Race Tally

bullet Year End

bullet Cheating

right arrow Data Files

right arrow Maps

A man with a watch knows what time it is. A man with two watches is never sure.

Segal's Law

Rogaine Program Managers Handbook

Version 2006-7

You’ve just been told you are running Rogaine.  You can now panic.  

There, doesn’t that feel better. Here’s most of what you need to know.

I wrote this originally as insurance if I did something incredibly silly like paddled over a waterfall or fell off a mountain. It has always been a work in progress. Each year I've updated it, and included a copy in my end of of year report to my boss. He'd file it, I've no idea if he ever read it.

St John's School of Alberta ran Rogaine as a winter program option for 6 years. It has always been a challenge program: Boys had to volunteer for it, and had to give up substantial amounts of free time for the pre-season training for it.

The season itself varied from three to seven races, mostly only a week apart. This puts a lot of time pressure on both the students and the program co-ordinator.

If used as an adventure program for scouts, cadets or other youth groups, I would suggest a looser schedule than this. I'd give serious consideration to having one event a month from October through March. This is a time of year that overnight wilderness activities are difficult.

Most of the participants at SJSA were in senior high school -- grades 10-12. On two occasions we had grade 9's make the team, and once a grade 8. Generally the younger boys did not do well: They ran out of energy early in the day.

We never had more that 6 teams participate. There may be interesting logistics issues with larger numbers of teams. In particular the scoreing could get difficult, as it is quite time consuming now.

This can be used as a transition program between scouts and venturers (Canada) or explorers (U.S.) E.g. If implemented in a council, venturer groups should consider inviting senior scouts on some of the outings.

Running this program at the troop or company or post level is probably too much work. During my tenure at St. John's it took over a month of my time, spread out over several months. Some of this time was paid for, much of it was time donated.

It would, however make a terrific service program for a Rover Company. They could put the program together, and run it for interested Venturer groups.


Running Rogaine is a major commitment. If you have superb organizational skills, and a devoted coterie of followers, some of this can be delegated. Otherwise be prepared to do it all yourself. How long will this take?

Two-thirds of this can be done in the fall, or on holidays. This does NOT count Rogaine Training in the fall. Add another 40-80 hours for that. If you have ALL the controls set out during the fall and Christmas holiday, then running the race season will take one day of your weekend before each race. These estimates are for someone who has been doing it for 5 years. They are most certainly underestimates for your first year. This is the basic maintenance mode: You’re going to make do with the database as it stands. It also assumes you aren’t doing any map work, generally a bad assumption.

On the other hand: Our first two years were done with clue sheets put together at the last minute. Our database was a shoebox full of scribbled logbooks. You can wing it. In the short run this saves time -- you can put together a race in about 3-4 person days of work. In the long run it costs time. Next year you have to do it all again. Re-using controls is difficult. You have to go through the entire shoebox each time. As you get more and more controls, it's harder and harder to find the information that you know was there.


We had a leader/referee with each team. Part of SJSA's core philosphy is that we don't ask boys to do things that staff aren't willing to do too. Our leadership training program however allowed certain senior boys to be both the captain and the leader of the team. This was a vote of confidence that we trusted him to bring everyone home even if events went pear shaped.

Sometimes alumni would help us with the program.

I would strongly suggest that initial work with this program have an adult leader with each team, puting the strongest leadership with the weakest team. As such, their role is NOT to run the team, but to act as a mentor, and as a safety supervisor. One way to implement this is to require each organization that wants to provide a team, to provide an adult too. The adult generally would not work with their own team. This requires a third strand to the training program.

When implementing this program, you have to decide what level of risk, cya, and liability you are comfortable with.

If at all possible you should not be the race marshall.


ALL students at SJSA had to pass a test in cold weather hypthermia every fall.

To be safe and fun requires that the skills be practiced. There is a whole section on this. My ideal rogaine training program had two sub programs: One was in field skills -- mostly map, compass and pacing work, but also reviews of hazardous situations, and recovery from potential accidents. It also had a physical fitness component to it. Because it was a school I could do this in in short sessions after school. Ideally this happened 3 days a week for 6 weeks.

The second component was leadership, planning, and navigation. Only the captains and navigators had to take this. This hammered home the hazards and responsibility, methods to keep the team moving, strategy considerations, deciphering clues, deciding on a route. Most of this took place in a class room. It took 4-5 weeks.

If transplanting this program to scouts or other youth groups, I would try to do the field work as a weekend event in September, the leaders training as a couple afternoons later on.

Starting from scratch:

If you are doing it yourself, you either need a year's start, or need to be currently unemployed. Good rogaine country needs an area with lots of edges -- things you can use for navigation. Field edges, shelterbelts, ridges, streams, swamps, ponds, cutlines, trails, roads. Ideally very little of your selected area is more than a hundred meters from such an edge.

You need LOTS of country. 100 square kilometers is a good start. Two hundred is better. I would offer you our region, now that SJSA is closed, but Epcor, who owns most of the area is increasingly reluctant to let strangers wander around on their land.

Because of the huge time commitment to starting, you need a chunk of land for a long period of time. Try to get permission to use it for 20 years.

Crown land is a good possibility. So is community pasture land.

Start by getting aerial photos of your region. I was able to get Valtus Imagery in Calgary to donate "ortho-rectified" images of our region.
These are APs that are corrected for distortion, aligned to true north, and scaled to 1 meter per pixel. These pictuers are good enough that you can tell the difference between a large poplar tree and a large spruce.

APs and MapMaker Pro are enough to get an initial map.

Verify that the map coordinates and your GPS coordinates agree. Due to a slight inconsistency in the way Valtus processed the data, my map was 13 meters out. By hacking the World files (each image file has an associated world file that gives its coordinates and scale) I was able to correct this. (Note this may have been Mapmaker's fault.)

AP's + MapMaker = map with coordinates.

There's lots of stuff you can't see well on an AP however. So over time you need to walk every trail, survey line, and stream channel. Ideally you also haveevery landmark such as well heads, houses, feed shelters, high voltage power pylons. You also need to write in every fence and gate. When you get back, you transcribe this info onto your permanent map.

Most of this is best done in fall, after the leaves have dropped, but before the snow is deep. This gives good visibility to see the lay of the country, easy walking, and warm enough temperatures that your fingers don't fall off taking notes.

If you can get help on this, divide the world into layers. E.g. One person is responsible for the water layer, one person for the trails layer, one person for the utilties (power lines and pipe lines), one person for fences.

I made several attempts to put contour lines on the map. All failed. As of 2006 there wasn't a good enough elevation model for our part of Alberta to make decent contours. Since most of the country around the school is flat to gently rolling, you need a source of elevation data accurate to about 2 meters to produce 5 meter contour lines that come close to reality. The default topo map of our area had contours of 50 feet (15 meters) and their horizonal location was often in excess of 100 meters out. E.g. If you plotted the base of the steep bank down to the river, your GPS would put you at the top of the contours. Several emails exchanged with the NTS service in Ottawa confirmed that the GPS was right, and the map was wrong.

I suspect that I've put in well over a thousand hours on my present map. But, hey, it gave me an excuse to walk around in my winter wonderland. Now if I could just find someone else to pay me to do this. Sigh.