How do I get my Troop involved in Orienteering?
As you read through these pages you will see that Orienteering
is not the simple pace and compass game done completely with a
compass that was introduced to Scouting years ago. It is not a
sport, but does require some technical skills in navigation for
the participant and in mapmaking for the organizer. For this reason
it is probably best to work with an organized Orienteering
club for your first experience.
If there is a local Orienteering club in your area contact them
to get their schedule of events. A troop can usually attend a regular
local event to get some Orienteering experience. Most clubs have
their schedules planned a year in advance so your group will have
plenty of time to arrange their schedules.
Get the Scouts ready before the event. Spend a meeting or two going
over map symbols. Note the symbols
for Orienteering maps are not the same as those for USGS maps listed
in the Handbook. The maps usually have a legend on them, so the
Scouts will have a reference in the woods. Do the meeting
room game to familiarize them with orienting a map and using
it to find something. Show them how to orient a map using the features
on the map so they can orienteer without a compass if necessary.
Set up an outdoor pace course so they can start to estimate distances.
Remember Orienteering maps are metric, so they need to estimate
in meters. You can use 110 yards to equal 100 meters, or in other
words one football field plus an end zone. Orienteering maps are
oriented to magnetic north, so don't worry about declination for
You might find an orienteering event planned for scout groups
in your area. Here the courses should be designed at the proper
level of difficulty for scouts. These are usually cooperative ventures
between an Orienteering club and a District or Council. If you don't
have a special event being planned in your area get to work on one.
Most clubs will be glad to help out, especially if you choose a
location that they have already mapped to orienteering standards.
Map production often takes over a year from initial planning to
finished product, so plan to use an area covered by an existing
Orienteering map or plan well in advance.
Some groups may choose, or because of geographic location be forced,
to organize their own event. A suitable area must be selected
and a map produced. Scout camps are usually good places to start
because they are easily accessible to all troops and many people
can benefit from the work that will be required to complete the
map. The best maps are offset printed in 5
colors, but computer generated prints are becoming more adequate
as the technology develops. If the organizers have someone that
is interested in producing a color map of the area to be used,
there are a couple of CAD programs available. The most commonly
used program among orienteers is OCAD.
A good color map will involve several steps.
Aerial Photographs suitable for photogrammetry
production of a basemap Field checking
cartography ( pen and ink or electronic)
burn plates / output file / film
The cost for all this will exceed $500/ square Kilometer. Two square
kilometers is often enough for an event, depending on the complexity
of the terrain, but more area may be needed in areas with few mappable
features. Most groups choose to start with a black
and white map which can be done very cheaply.