It’s registration day for classes at The Outdoor Campus, and you come across a class titled “Orienteering.” Unless you are an outdoor expert or you have signed up for the class before, most people don’t know what orienteering is.

So what is orienteering?

According to Orienteering USA, orienteering is a competitive international sport that combines racing with navigation. It is a timed race in which individual participants use a specially created, highly detailed map to select routes and navigate through diverse and often unfamiliar terrain and visit control points in sequence.

Originally a training exercise in land navigation for military officers in Scandinavia, orienteering has developed many variations. Among these, the oldest and the most popular is so-called foot orienteering, orienteering while running or walking on foot. Typically, when people use the term orienteering, this is what they’re referring to. But now people also orienteer on skis, mountain bikes, and even in canoes!

It is essentially a big, elaborate scavenger hunt.

How is the course set up?

A standard orienteering course consists of a start, a series of control sites that are marked by circles, connected by lines and numbered in the order they are to be visited, and a finish.


The control site circles are centered on the feature that is to be found; this feature is also defined by control descriptions (sometimes called clues, a list of which you’ll receive along with your map, or printed on your map. You can see some examples of these clues in the photo above.

To verify a visit, the orienteer may use a punch hanging next to the flag to mark his or her control card. Different punches make different patterns of holes in the paper.


Hopefully this gives you a better idea of what orienteering is and maybe you will find it in you to register for one of our classes. It’s a fun way to get outside and helps kids learn how to read and follow a map. To register for our classes you can log on to our website or give us a call at 605-362-2777. (Class spots for the rest of the summer are limited. Fall registration starts August 10 at 7 a.m.)




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