The string course

The string course is a short orienteering course which is marked by a continuous ribbon or yarn. The map below shows a sample string orienteering map with the course marked. The map is usually simple and includes just the area around the course. Children may color it in with the appropriate map colors.

From the start, a continuous length of ribbon or yarn, called the string, leads you along the course. The route that the string takes is shown on the map. When you reach the places circled on the map (called “controls”), you will find an orange and white nylon marker (called a “control marker”). At each control there will either be a marking device or a bag of stickers, for marking the appropriate box on the map. Eventually the string leads back to the finish, usually the same place as the start.

Sample string-orienteering courseA child needs only to follow the string around to find all the points and will not get lost. For the youngest, this is sufficient and gives the child exercise, fun and some exposure to maps, as well as confidence in being alone in the woods. Even at this simplest level, however, children can be taught map symbols, map colors, and simple orienteering skills.

For children ready for more challenge, the locations of the controls can be left off the map. The child must figure out where the controls should be on the map. Alternatively, some controls can be placed off the string inside the loop formed by the string. Many variations are possible.