Teaching Orienteering to Cub Scouts Class Handout
POC: Mike Russell, email@example.com
It’s been said that Scouting is a game with a purpose. For this class, orienteering is the game, with these purposes:
; Learning valuable outdoor skills
; Gaining confidence in the woods (it can be scary when you’re 7)
; Earning the satisfaction that comes from learning a difficult skill
; Understanding time-distance relationships
; Encouraging a life-long hobby that is enjoyed by people all over the world
Your Cubs won’t start out doing full blown orienteering courses; which is best left
for Scouts. However you can have a lot of fun with your Cubs teaching them basic orienteering skills and developing orienteering courses designed to challenge them in age appropriate way.
As a rule, cubs should not use satellite navigation devices like GPS. These should only be used by older Scouts and adults who have mastered orienteering. Besides, without a good basis in orienteering knowledge, you won’t know what
the GPS receiver is trying to tell you. Also you never know when your batteries might fail.
What Cub Age Kids Can Do:
Tigers and Wolves:
; These kids are full of enthusiasm and will almost always run from point to
point outside. So make sure your course is appropriate for them to run
across without them having to pay close attention to things like cars and
; They have little sense of time and distance. Don’t expect them to be able
follow a route for “x yards” or “x minutes.” What they can do is follow a
series of simple instructions, such as “follow this road until you see a big
red rock. You next clue is under it.”
; They wont really be able to match a map to the terrain around them, but
they can follow visual clues. Within orienteering clubs, “string courses”
are used for this age group. A string course is well marked with points the
kids can easily see and run to – think bread crumbs. Some string courses
literally have a piece of rope strung from point to point. However, by the
second grade, they should be able to follow a simple map that has easily
recognizable turn points, such as a trail intersection.
; They can learn and should be taught what a map is and what they are
used for. They should be able to produce the simple maps required or
implied by the Tiger and Wolf requirements.
Tiger Cub Requirements
Tigers have the following orienteering related requirements.
; 2F: Look at a map of your community with your adult partner.
; 2G: Visit a police station or a fire station.
; 5G: Take a hike with your den
Tigers need to understand that a map is a virtual representation of the land around them. Helping them select a route to get from a normal den meeting location to the police or fire station is a start. Then have them follow along with the map as the den is driven to the station.
While hiking with Tigers, point out terrain features, such as hills, saddles, and draws. This will help them visualize what the contour intervals on a tropo map are telling them when these maps are introduced in a couple of years.
Wolf Cub Requirements and Electives
These Wolf electives are orienteering related.
; 18C: Help plan and lay out a treasure hunt.
; 18D: Help plan and lay out an obstacle race.
; 18E: Help plan and lay out an adventure trail.
All cubs like to go on treasure hunts and run races. The key here is the “lay out” portion of the electives. The Wolves should be able to produce a simple map, with a compass rose, of their course. One thing that works will is to divide the den in half, have each half hide some treasure and make a map, then trade maps with the other half of the den.
For the obstacle and adventure race, have the Wolves walk the proposed course and figure out how terrain features could be used as part of the course. When they produce the course map, make sure to include terrain features and use the same colors that are used on a tropo map for natural and manmade features. This map does not have to be to scale or perfect in every way, it just has to be usable.
stBears and 1 Year Webelos:
; Third and Fourth graders should be able to successfully complete the
requirements for the map and compass belt loop. Fourth graders should
be able to complete the map and compass academic pin requirements.
; This a good age to introduce compasses. While most of these kids will
not be able to follow a bearing line, e.g. 135 deg. They can follow a
cardinal direction, e.g. SE, successfully. The important thing at this age is
to teach good compass using technique.
; These kids are ready for more rugged terrain, and should be taught to
navigate from point to point in the woods using terrain features. For
example, walk from the top of this hill to the middle of the saddle that is
due north of you.
; This is also the right age to introduce real map reading. They should be
able to read a tropo map, point out terrain and manmade features, and
understand what contour intervals represent. Using a table top terrain
model based on a tropo map, or a “3D” tropo map will help them visualize
what contour intervals are all about.
; They should also be able to orient a map using their compass. Some
fourth graders may be able to figure out bearings and distance.
; Orienteering clubs use “white” courses for this age group. A white course
generally covers 2-3 miles and is made up of trails and open fields.
These Bear requirements and electives can be used to get the Bears up to speed with map reading.
; 12A: Go camping with your family
; 12B: Go on a hike with your family
; 12E: Plan your outdoor family day
; 23A: Look up your state on a U.S. map. What other states touch its
; 23B: Find your city or town on a map of your state. How far do you live
from the state capital?
; 23C: In which time zone do you live? How many time zones are there in
; 23D: Make a map showing the route from your home to your school or den
; 23E: Mark a map showing the way to a place you would like to visit that is
at least 50 miles from your home.
Bears are mentally able to grasp just what a map is and how it represents the world around them. A good activity that goes along with these requirements is to have them describe the difference between a globe and several different map projections of the world. For instance, why does Greenland appear larger than Australia on some maps and not others? They should participate in all hiking and camping planning activities using both street and tropo maps to understand the differences in each.
Bears should also be introduced to compasses and how to orient a map using the compass. They are able to learn how to use a compass to follow cardinal directions, e.g. North, South West. Don’t worry about declination at the Bear level.
nd2 Year Webelos:
; Lots of changes happen between Fourth and Fifth grade. These kids are
ready to learn all of the skills needed to follow more difficult orienteering
; Fifth graders are ready to figure out distance and bearing between points,
plotting the route, and then using a combination of pace count, bearing,
and terrain navigation to move between them.
; The concept of magnetic declination is a critically important orienteering
skill and should be taught before moving on to more difficult courses. rdthDeclination doesn’t play a large role in the short courses 3 and 4 thgrades use, but 5 graders are ready for more challenging, “off the trail”
; After the kid is very comfortable navigating thought the woods and
plotting their own courses, they may be ready for the challenge of a
“yellow course.” A yellow course is designed for older kids and
inexperienced adults. These courses feature points that are not
associated with any obvious terrain or man-made features and the points
are farther apart.
The Webelos requirements are useful for helping the kids understand the different ways maps are useful in daily life. You might have them use the map drawn from the forester pin as their trail map for the hike requirement in the outdoorsman pin. This way they learn the value of making good maps that are accurate in all respects.
Webelos Forester Activity Pin
; 1: Make a map of the United States. Show the types of forests growing in
different parts of the country. Name some kinds of trees that grow in these
; 2: Draw a picture to show the plant and tree layers of a forest in your area.
Label the different layers. (If you don't live in an area that has forests,
choose an area that does and draw a picture of that forest.)
; 10: Draw your own urban forestry plan for adding trees to a street, yard, or
park near your home. Show what types of trees you would like to see
Webelos Outdoorsman Activity Pin
; 9: Discuss with your Webelos den leader the things that you need to take
on a hike. Go on one 3-mile hike with your Webelos den or a Boy Scout
Map and Compass Belt Loop / Pin
; Show how to orient a map. Find three landmarks on the map
; Explain how a compass works.
; Draw a map of your neighborhood. Label the streets and plot the route
you take to get to a place that you often visit.
Academics Pin: Earn the Map and Compass belt loop, and complete five of the following requirements:
; Define cartography.
; Make a poster showing 10 map symbols and their meaning.
; Read a book or story about a famous explorer or navigator. Tell your den
or family what you learned.
; Make a simple compass with a magnet and pin.
; Explain the difference between latitude and longitude and show them on a
map or globe.
; Draw a compass rose for a map. Label north, south, east, and west.
; Study a blank map of the United States of America. Label your state, and
the states that share its boundary lines.
; In the field, show how to take a compass bearing and how to follow it.
; Show how to measure distances, using a scale on a map legend.
; Measure your pace. Then layout a simple compass course for your den to
; Using a road map, determine how many miles it is between two major
cities or familiar destinations.
; Explain what the different map colors can mean on a map.
Safety: Everyone will have more fun running around in the woods learning orienteering if a few safety rules are kept in mind.
; Always pair the Scouts up. No scout should ever do an orienteering
activity by themselves.
; Tiger’s should always be accompanied by a parent. Many Wolves will
also have to be accompanied.
; Each Scout must carry a compass and map of the area. Also, each Scout
must carry a whistle or other noise maker and know how to use it in case
; The adults monitoring the course must have communication with each
other, the ability to call 911, and access to a first aide kit. ; Finally, if the orienteering course is off the beaten path, one of the adults
should have a GPS receiver so a precise location can be given to the 911
operator should the need arise.
Using a compass to shoot a bearing:
Credit where credit is due. I copied this section from http://www.learn-orienteering.org. There is a bunch of info on the site. Here is a sample.
1. Place the edge of the compass on the
map so that it goes from where you are
to where you want to go. (So, the edge
of the compass forms a line connecting
where you are on the map and where
you want to go.) In the diagram above,
a compass bearing is being taken from
a trail bend to control point 3. (A trail is
shown by a dashed black line; a red mark has been made on the diagram
to point out the trail bend.) Make sure that the direction of travel arrow at
the top of the compass is pointing in the direction you want to go, and not
in the reverse direction.
2. Holding the compass in place on the
map, and ignoring the needle for the
moment, turn the dial so that the lines
in the housing line up with the north
lines (meridians) on the map. Make
sure that the N on the dial is towards
the north (and not south) end of the
map. (This is subtle in the above
diagrams; look to be sure you see it.)
3. Leaving that setting alone, turn
yourself and the compass and map
until the red end of the needle points
to the N on the dial. (Remember, the
needle doesn't turn (it always points
north). You and the compass and
map turn around it. This takes a bit to
get used to.) The direction of travel
arrow on the compass now points in
the direction you want to go.
Illustrated instructions are often included with orienteering compasses. Remember that the most important use of a compass is still to orient the map.
; U.S. Orienteering Federation
Federation and club contacts, schedules of major events, general info. ; Orienteering and ROGAINEing Home Page
Lots of local club and federation contacts, many schedules, lots of general
; International Orienteering Federation
Federation contacts, schedules of major events, general info. ; Heather Williams' orienteering page
A good description of orienteering and orienteering concepts. ; Jan Kocbach's orienteering page
Many good links to other sites and to maps. Lots of club and federation
; O-Net - orienteering mail list
Discussions about orienteering, announcements of events, newbies
General orienteering books:
; Orienteering for Sport and Pleasure, by Hans Bengtsson and George
; Orienteering – The Adventure Game, by Ron Lowry
; Be Expert with Map and Compass: The Orienteering Handbook, by Bjorn
; Orienteering North America, edited by Donna Fluegel, has a fairly
comprehensive schedule and a frequent beginners' clinic. Currently
included as a membership benefit by USOF and some Canadian
; CompassSport, Britain's National Orienteering Magazine (online version,
links to order hardcopy version)
; Elsewhere, check Orienteering and ROGAINEing Home Page,
International Orienteering Federation or Jan Kocbach's orienteering page.
Teaching orienteering to youngsters:
; Learning Orienteering Step by Step, by Gunnar Hasselstrand. How to
teach orienteering, with a logical progression of orienteering skills, and a
careful explanation of each stage.
; Teaching Orienteering, by Carol McNeill. Jean Ramsden and Tom
; Orienteering from the Classroom to the Forest, by Winifred Stott. A
videotape for instructors.
; Orienteering -- Skills and Strategies, by Ron Lowry and Ken Sidney
; Armchair Orienteering (I and II), by Winifred Stott. Lots of drills and
Vendors (in US):
; See the US Orienteering Federation's Gear Page.
United States Orienteering Federation:
P. O. Box 1444, Forest Park GA 30051.
USOF can supply the names of orienteering clubs in your area, or send you info
on how to start a club. Or, see the U.S. Orienteering Federation web page.
For other countries, see the International Orienteering Federation web page or
Jan Kocbach's orienteering page.