Orienteering - the world of O

Author Rick (Chilliwack Jack)

As an outdoor activity, Orienteering has it all covered:

  • It requires both your mind as well as your body. Orienteering's slogan is that it’s a “thinking sport".
  • It’s a 4-season sport, carried out on a flagged course, set out in varying terrains, from school playgrounds, community parks, residential neighbourhoods to deep forests... Completing the course requires a combination of physical and mental skills... You have to start, visit a series of control points (in order) and finish... To verify that you visited the control point, you (rent or purchase) an electronic ID card that you scan at a special station hanging next to the flag.
  • It’s for all age groups and skill levels... A good pair of shoes is all that is required (along with your compass).
  • It combines walking, hiking, (maybe running) compass knowledge and map reading that uses International symbols... in other words, you can do it in any Country without even speaking their language.

It’s all about the map... making it takes patience and special (computerized drawing) skills. Starting with a 1:10,000 topo or a stereo photograph, it is redrawn to show the contours and solid block colours that represent open areas, water, trees etc... even large rocks... Here’s a part plan of False Creek (prepared by the GVOC) to give you an idea:

Then a course is printed on the map. The idea is to set a course that does offers a good physical test, ensure that it is of the proper length, an offer a mental test appropriate to the skill level of those for whom the course is intended. Here’s an example of a set course:

The triangle is always the start point (in the parking lot) and the first control point is at the intersection of the fence and pathway... The map is given to you at the start... How you get to each control point is up to you... Run in a straight line (if you’re at a competitive level) or, if you’re in a wheelchair, take the road and pathways (aka “Trail O”). Work individually, or as a team.

Training sessions are given, usually for a couple of hours one evening, midweek, where map reading and compass use is explained and perfected... and then a “meet” can be had on a weekend, some larger clubs holding them almost every weekend.

There are several downloadable Orienteering "games" on the internet too - really good, with different levels of expertise. Check out http://www.catchingfeatures.com, http://members.aol.com/dwildfogel, and http://www.geocities.com/haywoodkb...

There’s a cute video for beginners at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OZOI9kKuA4I,
and a really great PowerPoint presentation at: http://www.orienteering.ca/pdfs/IntroToOrienteering.ppt

...or try Googling “Orienteering” for tons of information on Clubs and activities.

We are attempting to form an OC in the Fraser Valley to look after the Abbotsford-Hope area, and based in Chilliwack... and the GVOC have offered to take us "under their wings" until we can get going on our own.