Orienteering is finding your way using a map and a compass. Orienteering is a popular sport throughout the world, especially in Scandinavian countries (Norway, Sweden, Finland), and is now starting to catch on in America. The competitions are held all over the world, and they receive the same size television audience as the Super Bowl does in America! (Gee! Wouldn’t that be exciting! Announcer in a “golf voice”) Bjorn is setting his compass. Adjusting… Adjusting… Okay, he seems to like the setting. He’s turning his body to align the arrows. It looks like, yes! He’s got the setting. He’s now progressing…) I can just see the excitement! However, these people are so accurate that they can find the equivalent of a dime in a ten mile by ten mile forest!
Orienteering has been done as a sport for over one hundred years! Not only s it good exercise, but its great training for armies who need to move troops! The purpose of it, is to help people find their way through unfamiliar areas using simply a map and a compass. In other words, it prevents people from getting lost!
I know. None of you have ever been lost. (Yeah, right.) Anybody got a story about their time of being lost? (Take a few, these are usually entertaining.) All right, now let’s assume that you get lost in the woods, what’s the first thing you don’t do? Panic! (I’m lost! I’m lost! I’m lost Argh! ) – It doesn’t help! Stop and think clearly! Then:
1. Stay put! It is possible to get even more lost!
2. SCREAM!!! (I do this. Usually wakes up the class.)
3. Look for familiar landmarks. If you see your car, go to it; if you see something that looks familiar, go toward it; if you see your footprints, follow them back!
4. If you are in an open area where people may be looking for you, you can build a signal. We will discuss how to signal later when we get to the test to see if you can “Survive”!
5. If nothing looks familiar, and you’ve waited a while, try to remember which direction you came from. If your safety lies south, figure out which direction is south and go that way.
6. All right, your not sure where to go but, thank the happy, froofy stars! You’ve found a river. If the river is polluted, which way do you follow it? (Upstream.) Why? (Because pollution is a sure sign that human beings are around.) If it’s not polluted, which way do you follow it. (Downstream.) Why? (Most towns are built around rivers, lakes or streams.) Ask the students if there is a water source somewhere near their town.
There are only three ways to find directions in nature:
- East – the sun rises in the East
- West – the sun sets in the West
- North – the North Star (Polaris)
Nothing else works! Moss doesn’t just grow on the North side of trees! (Take them to the Pointe and show them trees with moss all the way around…)’ Geese do not always fly from North to South! Rivers do, for the most part, flow from North to South, but they wander East and West as they do so! The only way you can certainly know directions, without a compass, is by the three listed above.
What if it’s the middle of the day? What you need to do is take a stick, place it in the ground, and aim it straight at the sun so that there is no shadow beneath the stick. Leave the stick alone and come back about ten minutes later or, until the shadow is about six inches long. The movement of the sun* produces a shadow which will be a straight East-West line.
(*This is a MEAD objective: Does the sun move? (No.) I s the “perceived movement of the sun” caused by the rotation of the earth. It looks like it moves, but it is the earth turning us away from the sun.)
You have one direction, but how do you find the others? Simple! Remember this simple phrase: “Never Eat Soggy Waffles!” (The campers will have a thousand different sayings…) Facing North, turn 90° to your right (1/4 of a circle); you are now facing East. Turn again, South. Turn once more, West. If you turn a final time, you will face North, once more! North, East, South and West are considered the “Cardinal Directions”.
When you are sixteen years old, the odds of you getting lost will greatly increase. Why? (They will be able to drive.) However, there is a really neat way of preventing that! There’s a small thing called a “road map”! What do road maps show? (Roads.) Now, I’ve always wanted to go from Camp Runamok to Detroit, and to do that, I’m going to use this road map!
Start by holding the map upside-down. When they protest, turn the map sideways, flip it over, whatever, but do not turn it the right way. Keeping asking them how we figure out which end is up. Finally, (hopefully) one of them will hopefully say, “Look at the compass!” Yes! On almost every map there is a compass. It usually is a simple arrow marking north which, for us, is the top of the map! (Simple, huh?)
We use road maps to find our way from one place to another. If we have road maps and street signs, it becomes very difficult for us to lose our way while driving. (Yeah, right.) Road maps are one of the three key maps used in the sport of Orienteering.
The next map which is important in Orienteering is a topographical map. The meaning of the word topographical is “to write about a place”, and is a great way of describing this type of map! On this map. you will see green areas. What are they? (Not grass, forests, etc..) Kind of tough, isn’t? Well, let’s do a simple one: what are the blue areas? (Water.) Notice that most of the green areas are around the water. What is green and hangs out around water? (Marsh, wetlands, etc.. But I bet that sounded like it was going to be some kind of joke, didn’t it?) Now then, what are all the little, red squiggly lines. Notice that they are (ultimately) circular in shape. Also, notice that there are numbers by some of them. What do the red lines tell you? (They tell elevation.) Notice that in some places, the red lines are building up to a small circle. What does that small circle represent? (The top of the hill.)
So, topographical maps tell us three things: hills, valleys and where water is (rivers, lakes and streams.) Why would this be important if you are trying to find your way? (How many of you would rather go over a hill than around it? How about around a lake rather than swimming across it.) This type of map is very important to hikers. (Trust me! I’ve been hiking using one of these, and it was a blessing!)
By the way, notice where the water is. (At the bottom of hills.) Why? (Water runs downhill.) It’s rare (like never) that you can climb to the top of a hill and, upon reaching the top, keep swimming higher!
Finally, the last type of map used in Orienteering, is an Aerial Map. Aerial maps are real easy to recognize. They are very simply a picture of a land area. Where do you suppose the picture was taken from? (Give you a hint: think “Air – e – al” map.) The air! You got it! The picture is taken from the air!
Now then, what are the straight, blue lines on the aerial map? (Not roads). Look closer. (Property lines!) You got it! They mark property. Why would an aerial map be important for finding directions? (It lets you know whose property you are on!)
All right. Let’s review. The first type of map is what? (Road map. What does it show? Roads.) Next type? (Topographical.) What three things does it show? (Hills, valleys and where water is.) Final type? (The Little Mermaid kind Aerial!) What does it show? (Actual photo o the land taken from the air, property lines.)
We said Orienteering used two things. We’ve talked about maps, so what is left? (Compasses.) According to the International Orienteering Federation, maps are more important than compasses. To my way of thinking, I would prefer to know which direction I’m walking. A map doesn’t do me much good if I have no clue of which way I’m going on the map!
Compasses are fairly simple devices. Take a look at yours, now…
A compass is simply a magnet suspended, either in the air or in a liquid, so that it may rotate freely. One end of a compass will always point north. Does it point true north? (No.) It points to magnetic north, an area in northern Canada. This area changes, depending upon tectonic shifts in the mantle of the earth, thereby changing the earth’s magnetic fields and reorienting any geo-synchronous devices, while wreaking havoc on the Van Allen belts and creating a much inferior sound quality in all Peavey equipment.
Okay! That was too heavy (and wildly inaccurate). Let’s look at the compass and just explain what it does. Forget the pure science, and let’s get to the “how it works” rather than the “why it works.”
A compass works by finding invisible, magnetic fields that wrap around the earth. Scientists think that there are some animals which can find and use these magnetic fields. Geese, for instance, are believed to be able to use the magnetic fields to help them fly from north to south. There are other animals which we think can do that, too.
Humans, for example! If you were blindfolded, how many of you think that you can point north? How many of you can follow your internal compass to reach a point? Let’s find out!
Take four orange cones and “scatter” them around the field. Take your group and have them assemble in a line, facing the field. (If it’s a large group, send them in two waves.) Have the students each pick a cone to walk toward. Have them close their eyes (Honesty Principle) and turn around twice. When they are ready, they are to walk toward the cone they have chosen, keeping their eyes closed the entire time! When they think they are at their cone, they are to stop. They are NOT to feel around, sweep their feet, etc.. They must simply stop and open their eyes to see hour they’ve done. (This will be real obvious if they are cheating. You’ll see people’ walking the wrong direction suddenly veer off, walk straight up to a cone and stop! Then they will protest that they had their eyes closed the entire time. Yeah, right!)
How many found their cone? (Not many, I bet.) What does that say about their internal compass? (Nothing, especially since they don’t have an internal compass. Those that found their cones did so by pure luck!) Experiments were done to determine if people could find directions. These people were taken into a room, blindfolded, and asked to point north. No one could! Not even close! We don’t have an internal compass, which means that we have to rely on a hand-held one, instead…
Look at your compass. We need to do some introductions. Does everyone see the red arrow. I would like you all to meet Red Rhonda. (Have everyone say “hi”.) Red Rhonda is called the “Magnetic Arrow” and has a few loves in her life, and I would like to introduce them to you. First of all, Rhonda loves a certain direction. She sits there all day long, pointing to that direction. Does anyone know what direction that is? (North.) So, if you just follow Rhonda, which way will you always end up walking? (North.) Should you ever follow Rhonda? (Not unless you always want to go north!) She also has another love in her life. It’s another arrow on the compass.
Everyone look at the round dial (bezel) of the compass. You will see, if you turn the dial, a blue arrow that moves with the dial. Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to introduce you to Boy. Boy may be red or blue depending upon which compass you have. (Have everyone say “hi” to Boy. Boy’s official name is the “Orienting Arrow”, and he is the other love of Rhonda’s life. When you are working with your compass, make sure that Rhonda and Boy are facing the same direction (avoid saying “on top of each other”) and the compass will always tell you the truth. If Rhonda gets separated from her love, she will lie to you! Always keep Rhonda and Boy together!
There is one other thing you need to know about Rhonda: she’s fickle. If she gets near a piece of iron, she gets “distracted” from north and will point at the piece of iron. Also, she gets easily distracted by other magnets. To prove this, place your compass on top of the one next to you. Notice that the two Rhonda’s are facing totally opposite directions? That’s because she’s no longer paying attention to north. If you find Rhonda lying to you, check to see if you have metal jewelry on. Also, Rhonda does not like heights. If you hold your compass up and down, Rhonda will get sick (puke in the bezel, have a headache) and will lie to you! Make sure you always keep your compass flat (in a horizontal position).
Anyhow, there is one other thing you need to know. The Nose Arrow, also called the “Direction of Travel” arrow. Look at the base plate of your compass. See the little blue arrow that says “Read Bearing Here”? That’s the Nose Arrow. It’s called the Nose Arrow because it faces the same direction as your nose. If I catch you during this class turning your compass, rather than your whole body. I will break your nose. If your Nose Arrow is facing toward your belly, I have to rip your nose off and stick it on the back side of your head because that’s the direction you’re telling me your nose is facing! Always turn your whole body, not just the compass! Also, after you have turned your body and lined up Rhonda and Boy, you follow your Nose Arrow! (But we’ll get into that more, later.)
To properly hold your compass, you must:
1. Pinch the bottom corners between the thumb and forefingers of both hands.
2. Bend your elbows so that the compass is brought into your stomach.
3. Make sure the compass is held flat!
4. Double check and make sure your nose is pointing the same direction as the Nose Arrow!
Everyone do me a favor! Turn your bezel so that the “N” is right on the white line at the base of the Nose Arrow (see diagram above for clarification). Now, turn your body (not the compass!) until Rhonda and Boy line up. Now, point in the direction that the Nose arrow is pointing. Which way is that? (North.) Which arrow are you going to follow? (The Nose Arrow.)
All right, is everybody facing the same way? Good! Now then, what I want you to do is to look at the bezel. Do you see all the little marks? Each mark stands for a number. Now then, here’s where things get interesting. How many of you have ever heard of doing 360’s? If I told you I did a 360 in a car, what did I just do? (Spun the car in a full circle.) How about a 180? (Turned the car around.) A circle is divided into 360 little marks that we call degrees. If you are facing 0 degrees, you are facing north. If you are facing 360 degrees, you are facing… (North!) You’ve just turned a full circle and are facing the same direction. If we take 360 and multiply it by 2, we get 720. If I told you to set your compass for 720 degrees,’ which way are you facing? (North, after turning
around twice’) Okay, if 360 degrees is North and we divide it by two, we have 180 degrees. What direction would that be? (South.)
Do we understand this so far? Zero degrees is equal to..? (North.) 180 degrees? (South.) 360 degrees? (North.) Look at your compass. See that East is halfway between North and South. What is half of 180 degrees? (90.) Is 90 degrees written on the compass? (No.) It is marked with an “E”, but there is no “90” marking. So, which direction is 90 degrees? (East.) Now, we have the toughest one of all. West is locate halfway between South and North. What is the number halfway between 180 and 360? (270.) So, 270 degrees is equal to..? (West.) Does everybody have this?
Now then, I’m going to teach you to do what is called following a bearing. If you know which direction you have to travel to reach safety, here’s what you have to do. Let’s say you have to go East to get “unlost”. Turn the compass so that the “E” is on the little white line. Now, turn your body so that Rhonda and Boy are both facing the same direction. Which way are you now heading? (East.) Which way do you walk? (Make sure they point the direction of the Nose Arrow, not Rhonda!)
Each small marking on the compass is equal to two degrees; each large number is equal to ten degrees, and each number is counting up by twenty degrees. (See them counting up by twenty?) Each letter is counting up by 90 degrees (0, 90, 180, 270). So, let’s try this out… Everybody set your compass to 300 degrees. Turn your body so that Rhonda and Boy line up. Which direction should you travel? (Check and make sure they are facing the same way!) Now, let’s try 65 degrees. How about 202 degrees? 365 degrees?
(Make sure they get this! If not, it will be a loonnngggg day!)
Okay, you can find your way to someplace by “following a bearing”. But, what happens if you have to find your way to an object you can see but you don’t know the bearing? This is very simple: point your compass at an object (say a pencil in the middle of the group). Everyone aim your compasses at the pencil and turn the dial so that Rhonda and Boy line up. What is the number you see on the little, white line? (Have everyone read their number. You will find that they are all different!) Why do you have different numbers? Did you do something wrong? (No! They are all at different points on the circle around the pencil!)
By doing it this way, you have just found a bearing. In technical terms, we call it “shooting an azimuth”. Do I care that you can remember that? Not remotely. I just thought I’d mention it to see if you were still paying attention.
The final thing you need to know, besides following maps and compasses, is distance! If you know you have to walk three miles to get out of the forest, you need to figure out how far three miles But, if you don’t have a ruler, how can you do that?
Pacing! What is a pace? It is a normal step. Should you stretch to make it? (No.) Should you take baby steps? (No.) Just walk normally. If you measure the distance you cover with each step, you can determine how far you’ve walked. My pace is exactly three feet. If I need to go 300 feet and I cover three feet with every step, how many steps do I need to take? (100.) To determine your pace, what you need to do is walk alongside a tape measure. Figure out what your average pace
and you can know how far you’ve gone! Simple, huh?
Discussion Info (see notes above) Time: 45 minutes
1. What is Orienteering?
2. What do you do if you become lost?
3. Finding directions without a compass.
5. Parts of a compass.
6. Using a compass.
7. Finding bearings.
As you cover the information above, remember that these students will have to sit here for almost an hour. You, as the Instructor, must make it entertaining. Get up and do the “Human Compass” activity and then go back. Take them outside to do the “Shadow Stick” method. Whatever it takes. Have them stand up and scream at the top of their lungs. Do what you have to do to keep them involved and occupied.
Also, make sure they understand what they are doing with the compass before going out to do the activities. If you take them out too soon, you will have a heck of a time!
Compass Activities : Time: 30-45 minutes
*Do not attempt to do all of these activities. Choose two!
Create-A-Course: Time: 20-30 minutes
Hand out four pieces of paper to each student. Have them think up a nice three letter word. Have them take three of their four sheets of paper and write one letter of their word on them. For example, my word is “dog”. I take three of my four sheets of paper and write one letter on each of
Now, have them choose a starting point. They must write down their starting point on the fourth sheet of paper. They are now ready to create a course. Have them set their compass for any direction they want. Line up Rhonda and Boy and have them pace out any distance they choose. When they have “arrived”, have them place the first letter of their word on the ground. (If it’s windy, have them stake them to the ground somehow.) On that fourth sheet of paper, they must write down the direction they traveled and the distance. From that point, have them move on. Once they have placed all of the letters and have directions for the course written down, have them return to the pavilion.
When you have two people who are done, have them swap directions and then accompany each other as they try to follow each other’s compass course. If there is a mistake, have the two work together to figure out why it didn’t work. Once they have all three letters, have them guess the other person’s word.
Note: Stress that they should make sure to follow their compass. If they just look out and see a letter, they should not assume it is part of their word! (The pacing and bearings may be off.) As soon as everyone is dove, have them return to the pavilion and accompany other groups.
Hide the Hockey Puck: Time: 10 – 15 minutes
Before your class arrives, place a hockey puck in the grass somewhere on the field or along the edge. Choose a starting point, align your compass and take a bearing. Pace out the number of steps to the hockey puck and then figure out the distance in feet.
After you have taught the students how to use a compass, take them outside and explain to them that, you are going to play a little game. There is a hockey puck hidden somewhere on the field. They can either go out and search for it on their own, or they can use their compasses to find it. Give those who decide to find it on their own a head start. After they have left, give the bearing distance to the rest_ of the group and have them go to it.
My experience has been that those who use the compass will always win!
Make a Map: Time: 10 – 15 minutes
Have the group make map of the field. To do this, they must chart out directions and distances to all available points of reference. They must then covert their measurements into something which can be drawn on paper. The easiest way to do that is to orient their map along the field, and draw things based on their paces. They must use their bearing to make sure their map is accurate.
This is a tough activity and there are many ways to accomplish it. If the group tries it, let them figure out how they wish to proceed. When they are done, test some of their measurements to see if they are correct.
Make A Shape: Time:15 – 20 minutes
Have the students line up in a straight line, a few feet apart from each other. Have each students mark their starting point somehow (even visually will work). Call out a bearing and a number of paces, and have the students walk them. Why are they not all the same distance?
(Everyone’s paces are different Is that any big deal? No, live with it.) Did anyone go astray? Are they following Rhonda? Here are some shapes to work with, oriented for beginning with your back to either the Ridge or the pavilion and facing north:
- 0 degrees 10 paces
- 90 degrees 10 paces
- 180 degrees 10 paces
- 270 degrees 10 paces
- 0 degrees 10 paces
- 90 degrees 5 paces
- 180 degrees 10 paces
- 270 degrees 5 paces
- 30 degrees 10 paces
- 75 degrees 10 paces
- 210 degrees 17 paces
- 300 degrees 7 paces
- 300 degrees 10 paces
- 360 degrees 10 paces
- 60 degrees 10 paces
- 120 degrees 10 paces
- 120 degrees 10 paces
- 180 degrees 10 paces
- 240 degrees 10 paces
- 45 degrees 20 paces
- 165 degrees 20 paces
- 285 degrees 20 paces
Survival Simulation Instructions: Time: 20 – 30 minutes
Read through the instructions found in the “Survival Simulation” area of your manual. Make sure you cover everything in a question and answer format, to prove that they understand the material. The only are.- I would gloss over is “Fire Building”. If a number of them claim to know how to build a fire, skip over it. It will teach them to ask for help when they truly need it.
Make sure you stress that they must survive together! No one may be left behind! If one dies, all dies!
Survival Simulation: Time: 30-40 minutes
Follow the instructions for the “Survival Simulation”. After each activity, give the group a chance to kill people off or to share the injury. If they choose to have people die, the whole group will die! Be harsh from this point on, and take points off for everything! (Two points off for having bad breath!) One dies, all die! (Or, if the teachers prefer to not have “death” involved, have them become discouraged, give up and sit down, remaining lost in the woods.)
Aerial Map: a map which is a photograph from the air, tells where property lines are
Cardinal Directions: North, East, South, West
Compass: a magnet used to determine directions
Geographic North Pole: the “northernmost” spot on the globe; different from magnetic north.
Magnetic North Pole: a spot, located in Canada, toward which compasses point; different from the Geographic North Pole
Orienteering: a sport which involves using maps and compasses to find directions
Pacing: a normal step, used to determine distances in Orienteering
Perceived Movement of The Sun: the appearance that it is the sun moving across the sky, rather than the movement being caused by the rotation of the earth.
Road Map: a map which shows the roads in an area.
Topographical Map: a map that tells what the land is like, specifically hills, valleys and what water is.