Orienteering Information Troop Meetings Main Event

Related Advancement

  • Tenderfoot requirement 1b
  • Second Class requirements 1a, 3a, 3d, and 3b
  • First Class requirements 1a, and 4a
  • Backpacking, Geocaching, Hiking, and Orienteering merit badges

Orienteering Basics – The sport of orienteering began in the late 19th century in Scandinavia. In its classic form, orienteers (competitors) are given a topographic map with a series of controls marked on it. They find these controls in order and return to the starting point; the orienteer with the best time wins.

Orienteering ControlsControls, which are square orange and white kites, hang from trees or are attached to posts in the ground. Attached to each is either a punch that marks a distinctive pattern on a control card or an e-box where orienteers insert an e-card or memory stick (something like a USB flash drive) to record the control number and time. Controls appear at distinctive locations such as a gate or the crest of a hill. Controls, punches, and punch cards are relatively inexpensive, and you may be able to borrow them. However, you could also use alternatives. For example, you could use laminated pieces of cardboard with code words written on them that Scouts have to write down as they go through the course.

Orienteering tests your body and your brain. Part of the fun is figuring out the best route between control points—which probably isn’t a straight line. For example, you might find a “handrail,” a road that closely parallels the route you need to follow; you could follow it a certain distance and then head back into the woods to the control. Or you might “aim off,” intentionally veering a little to the right so that when you have gone the right distance you know the control will be on your left.

Note: While orienteering is primarily an individual sport, BSA Youth Protection procedures call for using the buddy system when participating in orienteering meets.

Course Designations – Orienteering USA uses different levels to indicate course difficulty.

Click above for an enlarged view.
Click above for an enlarged view.

Orienteering Trio

Orienteering Variations – There are several variations to the classic form of orienteering. Here are a few:

  • Score orienteering: Orienteers visit as many controls as possible in a given time. The controls are assigned different point values depending on difficulty.
  • Night orienteering: Orienteers run a course in the dark. Reflective markers are attached to the controls so orienteers can find them with a flashlight.
  • Ski orienteering, canoe or kayak orienteering, horseback orienteering, and mountain bike orienteering: As the names imply, orienteers travel by means other than on foot.
  • ROGAINE orienteering: A form of score orienteering (stands for Rugged Outdoor Group Activity Involving Navigation and Endurance) where teams of two to five members compete for 24 hours (the length of a championship ROGAINE) or longer. Shorter variations sometimes occur concurrently with a longer event.
E-Box and Memory Stick

Resources and References

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Orienteering Information Troop Meetings Main Event