Orienteering: For Fun and Survival Skills

According to Orienteering USA, “orienteering” is the sport of navigation, often in diverse and unfamiliar terrain, using a detailed map and compass. It’s a great way to exercise your body and mind.

Over recent years, we have all become dependent on technology, such as a GPS or map apps on our phones. But what happens if you’re out hiking for the day or weekend and the batteries die? Do you know how to find your way home without relying on these devices?

Have you tried orienteering? How are your map and compass skills?

6 Likes

I really enjoyed orienteering as a Boy Scout. I still have multiple compasses and would love to return to the activity.

4 Likes

Before I retired 8 yes ago, I “coached” the high school orienteering team for 15 yrs. I use the term “coached” loosely, as I provided the classroom/field training (reading topo maps, and compass use, and accompanied the team to lots of competitions. My part was fairly easy. The kids (9-12 grades), were the ones doing the navigating and running, in all sorts of weather (sunshine, pouring rain, and even snow on occasion). Great bunch of kids over the years who learned the up and downs that come with winning and losing.

4 Likes

Regularly during our Boy Scouts, it’s one of the 5 core skills I try and make sure all the boys know (with actual maps and compasses, no gps/phones allowed).

First Aid
Fire Building
Water Purification
Orienteering
Shelter Building

We try and do a little on each camping trip just keep them in practice. For my son I made the Orienteering merit badge and Wilderness Survival “required” merit badges (neither is required by the BSA for Eagle rank).

So I feel pretty squared away when it comes to orienteering.

3 Likes

Orienteering was part of young life :muscle:
I do not see it anymore. Even my kids will probably be lost without GPS… :grimacing: :anguished: :scream:
Map and compass can save the day and I don’t have problem to use them… (thank you 20th Century and lack of technology) but who is handling them these days? :thinking:
I like to study and know the terrain before driving there. If GPS is not the option, these information is crucial. Once you know the terrain, it’s not complicated to find cardinal points (they are visible if you know how to find them).

4 Likes

Mine are rusty as I have not been able to use them for a long time. But they were pretty good, back in the day :t_rex::sauropod::t_rex::sauropod:

5 Likes

Honestly, I have done as much as I would like. I do plan to this fall. I was really good at it when in the Army, though. It is a very interesting and exciting skill. I think everyone should have these basic skills. :grinning:

2 Likes

Growing up hunting around Mount Saint Helens my dad taught us to use the compass to get us back safely. We learned to back azimuth and yes we got lost, kind of, then used the compass to find our way back. I later, when I was in the Marine Corps used this skill in the field. Dropped off of a spy rig then you get called the destination over the radio and it was my job to navigate us the best way to get to a FOB, forward observation Post. I could tell you two locations and give you the different angles and you can figure out where I am. With three or four points you can better locate a position too. I have always had fun with this skill. ALSO, the compass is always right, no matter if you think it is not working right.

2 Likes

Oh, yes, indeed.

1 Like

Remember about this: :smiling_imp:

In some cases you can be surprised NOT finding what you are looking for… :wink:

4 Likes

I am a map and compass expert. Honed over years of practice. I am an Eagle Scout from back when the BSA was a different organization than it is today. I still get maps out and can still find my way without the help of any electronic device. I still get topo maps of areas I am visiting and Gazetteers before road trips. I like to have a look at the area before I get there. I also think that when you have orientation skills, you have a tendency to pay attention a bit more as you are always checking off certain points, checking assumed direction based on landmarks, etc.

And thanks @Jerzy for the graphic of declination, the difference between true north and magnetic north. All my compasses have the ability to adjust declination out, which can be found at the bottom of any decent topographical map because the difference is different based on where you are standing!

3 Likes

I used to do it when on a SAR team. We had to take a class in it every 6 months. That and how to read a topo map.

2 Likes

Excellent skill and can be both rewarding, fun and life saving.

Remember, an analog watch can also be used as a compass.

2 Likes

Who even owns them these days? I was really good at this once.

2 Likes

Now days it’s geo caching that’s all the rage. Even that may be dying out.

1 Like

Probably not nearly enough. GPS is great…right up until the batteries die, signal is lost, or it’s dropped in the drink. I tend to rely on the less resource dependent lensatic compass, map, pace count, and pebbles. :+1:

2 Likes