OUSA Mapping Clinic at Older Dash

You can orienteer at the Older Dash in Gunstock, NH and learn more about mapping, too. Friday October 18th, the day before the event, a mapping workshop will be held at a nearby site for those interested in learning how to map. The workshop will use LIDAR data to assist in the mapping process.

The workshop will start at 9:00 AM and end around 4:00 PM (you can probably leave early if you want to run the model event). LIDAR use and how to get it will be part of the discussion.

This workshop is for people new to mapping and people who want to learn a bit more about the process. Experienced mappers may also benefit because of discussions about what and how to map. You can talk with others about the process that is often done in the woods, alone, so feedback and discussion about how to map is always helpful.

At the workshop, attendees will work with a basemap, aerial photos and other data to learn the basics of making field notes with the goal of creating orienteering maps. Discussions will be focused on what and how to map particular areas. This will be hands-on and materials will be provided for making field notes. The materials provided will be traditional map boards and colored pencils. There will be no charge for the workshop although you must pre-register so there are enough materials for all the participants. 

Email Peter Goodwin to register or to get more information.

2019 OUSA Strategic Planning Survey

Calling all U.S. orienteers!

The OUSA Strategic Planning Committee seeks your input as we conduct long-range planning to inform how OUSA focuses its efforts and distributes its resources.  Whether you are an OUSA member, a local orienteering club member, or an occasional orienteer, we want your thoughts.

Please fill out the general survey at: https://forms.gle/6ezRaB9JxcmVsF9p6.  It should take 20-30 minutes to complete.

We also have more detailed questionnaires for some topics based on information from the last in-depth survey of orienteers in 2010.  We would like to validate priorities identified at that time, as well as identify new goals and individuals interested in working towards their achievement.  Depending on how much you have to share with us, each survey should take about 15 minutes to complete.  There’s no need to complete them all, but please fill out those that interest you.

Budget, Fundraising, and
Financial Management
CommunicationExpanding Participation
Mapping and Land UseMarketingMembership Benefits
Strategic PlanningVolunteeringMtn Bike Orienteering
Junior National ProgramSenior National TeamRogaining
Trail OrienteeringUniversity Orienteering ChampsSki Orienteering
 Masters Orienteering 

Our recommendations will inform not only OUSA fiscal policy and organizational focus, but also identify achievable goals based on the passions, skills, and resources of our membership.  

We appreciate your time and thoughtful input.  Thank you for all you do for orienteering!

OUSA’s Strategic Planning Committee
Chair: Clare Durand
Members: Tori Campbell, Gregory Fasig, Joseph Huberman, Ian Smith, Ellen Stefaniak

2019 Annual General Meeting – proposed Bylaws change

The following Bylaws change proposal was approved by the board to be considered by the membership at this year’s AGM.

Bylaws , Article IV, section B.1.f

Current language:

A family membership consists of two or more individuals related by blood or marriage living in the same household.

Proposed language:

A family membership consists of multiple people with a single primary address with at most two over the age of 24.


This change is intended to have two effects.

  1. Allow for more flexibility by deleting the “blood or marriage” requirement and allowing family memberships based on shared residence alone.
  2. Insure that adult children begin maintaining their own memberships instead of remaining indefinitely on parental memberships.

The specific age requirement matches the newly adopted age limit for student memberships.

2019 Board of Directors Elections – Candidates for Four Open Seats

The 2019 OUSA Annual General Meeting will be held on Saturday, Sept. 7, at Cabrillo College in Aptos, California, south of San Francisco. The AGM is being held in conjunction with the U.S. Nationals hosted by the Bay Area Orienteering Club.  The meeting will begin at 4:00 p.m., and club delegate check-in will start at 3:00 p.m at the Cabrillo College Cafeteria. More details on exact location on campus will be added when available.

At that meeting, there will be voting for four openings on the OUSA Board of Directors, replacing current board members whose terms are ending this year:  Kris Beecroft, Alex Jospe, Pat Meehan, and Barbara Bryant..

Currently there are four candidates, but more may arise prior to the end of August.  Also, candidates can be nominated from the floor at the AGM (with approval of the nominee). Short resumes from the four current candidates follow (updated Aug 17 to add Jon Torrance):

Victoria (Tori) Campbell

Currently a member of NEOC, UNO and COC

I am running for a position on the OUSA Board of Directors because I love orienteering and want to help more people to enjoy it. My first orienteering adventure was in 1996, and I’ve been orienteering regularly since 2001. Over the years my husband, Jon, and I have been members of COC, CSU, NEOC, QOC, and USMAOC, and visited many other clubs through our travels. I’ve learned to appreciate how clubs can share the same love of orienteering, but have unique environments and needs. I welcome the challenge of developing solutions that move orienteering forward while providing flexibility across our diverse membership.

I believe I will be effective as a Board member because I have extensive long- and short-term planning experience from 20+ years as an Army officer. I enjoy making sense of information, developing plans to meet an objective, and collaborating with others. I see my candidacy as focused more on supporting effective processes than trying to achieve any particular personal goal, because I recognize that OUSA is volunteer-led and significant advances are only possible when a core group is willing to pour their passion into making something happen.  Regardless of whether an idea is one I am personally passionate about, if “movers and shakers” want to advance an idea aligned with OUSA’s strategic plan, I want to support their efforts and see what we can accomplish.

Besides collaboration and teamwork at the organizational level, my interests in orienteering include putting on top-notch competitions; making well-reasoned decisions about who should represent the U.S. in international competitions and encouraging those who dedicate time and effort to train for such events; advancing family-friendly events; teaching and coaching orienteering; and orienteering in education.  I hope you will support my candidacy and I look forward to the opportunity to give back to an organization that has given me so much over the years!

Clai Gardner

I have orienteered since 1980 and I am a lifetime U.S. Orienteering member.  I really love orienteering.

•    Club leadership: Lone Star Orienteering Club founder and current president
•    U.S. Military Orienteering team member at CISM World Championships 1994 and 1997
•    Geographic Information Systems Master’s Program Training
•    Assisted in organizing numerous national orienteering events

My planned focus if elected as a BOD member:

•    Facilitate map production
•    You cannot play baseball without baseball fields and you can’t orienteer without maps, so I will facilitate map production
•    Facilitate map production so we can involve more youth participation
•    Listen to suggestions that will help facilitate map production
•    Assist clubs in partnering with universities, community colleges, and all levels of education that have access to GIS software to produce maps

Joseph Huberman

I believe that the Clubs form the foundation of Orienteering.  A Club event is where new people are introduced to Orienteering.  Without a vibrant community of clubs, potential world class orienteers will never even try our sport.

OUSA membership represents only a small fraction of the active orienteers who participate at the club level.  In order for OUSA to involve many more recreational orienteers, OUSA must provide services to the clubs at the local level that will make hosting orienteering events easier for the club’s volunteers and more convenient for the recreational orienteer.

I believe that the OUSA website should become a central location for recreational and competitive orienteers to learn about, register, and pay for events at both the national and club level. This should be accomplished by offering incentives and free services to the clubs to facilitate event registering, results, and reporting. OUSA would then shoulder many of the unrewarding bureaucratic jobs freeing club volunteers to focus on the fun parts of hosting events. Bringing OUSA down to the grassroots club level will increase its relevance and attract more national memberships.

With my decades of experience leading my club and directing both local and national events I believe I can advocate for the recreational club perspective on the OUSA BOD so that more recreational orienteers will become part of OUSA and transition to competitors at the national level.

I have been orienteering since 1978 and the president of Backwoods Orienteering Klub since 1980, shortly after its founding in 1978 when we had only 8 members.

I served as USOF Rules Committee Chairman during the years we were modifying our rules to conform with the IOF rules. I have been Event Director for (at least) 10 National Events including: a fundraiser in cooperation with the US Senior team, Long O Champs, Relay Champs, Classic Champs, Interscholastic and Intercollegiate Champs as well as ARDF US & Region II Champs (radio orienteering) and two International Training Camps. My breadth of experience will serve the BOD well.

Jon Torrance

Currently a member of QOC and OOC (Ottawa Orienteering Club)

After starting orienteering in spring 1990 — not counting a couple of high school gym excursions (thanks alma mater no one reading this would have heard of, and also to TV Ontario for once showing the short film “Thomas the Orienteer” when I was channel surfing as an adolescent, and to Hal Higdon for featuring orienteering in the plot of his novel ”The Electronic Olympics”) — I moved from Canada to the DC area for work in 1997; since that time I’ve been an active member of Quantico Orienteering Club. 

Within QOC, I’ve:

  • directed a handful of local events
  • set courses for a much, much larger number of local events
  • served as club secretary
  • won the club’s Volunteer of the Year award in 2006
  • fieldchecked and drafted a handful of maps on a volunteer basis, two of which were then used for a national meet
  • served from 2010 to 2014 as club president, during which years the club grew local event starts from between 2100 and 2500 in 2005–2009 to more than 4000 in each year of 2012–2014, while membership more or less doubled compared to 2007–2009 (somewhat less than doubled compared to 2005 and 2006). Not, in my opinion, due to my brilliant leadership — I give most of the credit to a major revamp of the QOC web site, in which I took some part, boosted by other publicity efforts — but apparently my leadership wasn’t bad enough to prevent breakneck growth given otherwise favorable conditions.
  • served as chief vetter for two U.S. Classic Championships
  • created the basemap for, fieldchecked, and drafted a new map of a longtime QOC venue for pay in 2018
  • served as event director for national meets held in 2014 and 2019, both including national championship races

Outside QOC, I’ve had an elite orienteering career including several years in the Canadian High Performance Program, running on the Canadian WOC team from 2005 through 2010, and winning 4 elite Canadian Championship medals, and the APOC 2006 long distance championship. And in 2016, I spent the summer mapping professionally in Canada, fieldchecking and drafting two maps for OOC, including the forest map used for the 2017 Canadian Middle and Long Distance Champs.

That has probably sufficiently established that I’m a useful person to have around if you want lots of orienteering and if I could be cloned in quantity, every U.S. club would want one of me. Regarding my current desire to serve on the OUSA board, after a few years now of competitive elections for and apparent new energy within the OUSA board, I was disappointed to see initially only 3 candidates announced for 4 available seats on the board. I think the board has recently been doing a generally decent job keeping the lights on and  has been working on some promising initiatives to identify and spread best practices at the club level, where the rubber meets the road in any effort to sustain let alone grow orienteering nationally.  If there aren’t four other new people out there eager to work on furthering those initiatives, I’m not currently committed to direct any upcoming national meets so I’m available. And since a reliably abundant supply of orienteering throughout North America for me to enjoy during the rest of my lifetime is probably riding on the success of those initiatives, fervently willing.

Which said, just because there are now, including me, (at least) 4 candidates for 4 open seats, doesn’t, in my view, mean everyone should relax.  If any OUSA member reading this thinks they have as much to contribute or more as any of the candidates currently running, I encourage them to throw their hat into the ring. And if you don’t win this time, try again in the future, other commitments permitting. We should aspire to have competitive OUSA board elections and a vibrant, growing OUSA now and indefinitely into the future.

2019 Silva and Golden Award Nominations Sought

The Annual General Meeting of Orienteering USA will be held on Saturday, September 7th, in conjunction with the Nationals, at Cabrillo College in Altos, California. One of the highlights of the AGM will be the naming of the recipients of the 2019 Silva National Service Award and 2019 Golden Service Awards. There are a lot of orienteers who have given a lot of themselves to advance orienteering in this country. The Golden Service Awards program is a wonderful way of honoring these people. We hope that you, and other members of your club, take part this year by submitting a nomination. Read more about each program below.

Nomination deadline for both awards is Sunday, August 18, 2019.

All award nominations should be sent to Susan DeWitt

Silva Award
Call for Nominations


The Silva Award is given annually to an orienteer who, along with being a member of Orienteering USA, has demonstrated outstanding service to orienteering in the United States over the past five years. The recipient need not be a terrific orienteer, and orienteering skill is not considered in determining the award winner. The essential quality of every winner has been service to promoting and sustaining orienteering, to making the sport work in this country, and in helping to build the organizations needed to make orienteering successful.


Previous winners are not eligible to win again. In addition, the members of Orienteering USA’s Executive Committee are ineligible (the President, the three Vice Presidents, and the Secretary) as they will do the final voting. (Clare Durand*, Kris Beecroft, William Jameson, Alex Jospe, Pat Meehan, and Barb Bryant* are ineligible this year; *as a past Silva Award winner, Clare and Barb remain ineligible whether on or off the board).

Rules for Nominations:

Each Orienteering USA member club may make one nomination. In addition, each member of the Orienteering USA Board of Directors may also submit a nomination. Individual members may not submit nominations, but are encouraged to work with their club to submit a nomination. Any orienteer can prepare a nomination, but the actual submission must come from an Orienteering USA club or member of Orienteering USA’s Board of Directors.

How to Nominate:

There is no required format you should follow when making a nomination. However, should you choose to submit a nomination, please be as comprehensive as possible, as to what your nominee has done during the past five years, and why you feel these accomplishments are important and make the nominee worthy for the Silva Award. The information you provide is the information that will be presented to the OUSA Executive Committee, who will conduct a vote amongst its members to determine this year’s winner.

Nominations made in previous years are not automatically carried over, although clubs and Orienteering USA Board members are certainly free to nominate the same OUSA member that they did last year. (Updating a previously submitted nomination is fine; rewriting it from scratch is not necessary). Clubs are not restricted to nominating only their own members but are free to nominate any Orienteering USA member belonging to any club.

A club submits a nomination by having one of its officers or directors send it, by e-mail, to skdewitt {at} snet {dot} net, indicating that they are a club official and the nomination being submitted is that of the club. Something along the lines of, “As Secretary of XYZ Orienteering Club, I’d like to submit our club’s Silva Award nomination” is fine.

Please submit nominations or questions via email to Susan DeWitt

Nomination Deadline:

The deadline for submitting nominations is Sunday, August 18th. However, it is always appreciated if a club, or Orienteering USA Board member, submitting a nomination does so in advance of that deadline.

Previous Silva Award Winners

Those of you recognizing some or all of the winner’s names no doubt see that the contributions they have made have covered a wide spectrum. Some winners are associated more with club and regional activities. Others are more linked with national and international ones. Some were recognized for their contributions to an event, while others were chosen for their work with a project, program or the OUSA itself. Any and all contributions to American orienteering may be considered.

Orienteering USA Golden Service Award
Call for Nominations


The purpose of the Orienteering USA Golden Service Award is to recognize those individuals who have provided exceptional service to the sport of orienteering that extends beyond the local club level.

Rules for Nominations:

Clubs or individuals may make nominations for the Golden Service Award. One awardee will be selected from among the nominations received from each club. The nominee does not need to be a member of your club; they may be from another club. Nominations from individuals are deemed to come from the primary club of the person making the nomination. In the event that more than one nomination is received from members of the same club, the volunteer recognitions committee will determine which single nomination from that club is the most deserving for that year. There is no limit to the number of clubs that may have an awardee each year. Awards will be presented to one nominee per club provided they meet the award criteria.

Any individual may only receive the Golden Service Award once.

Golden Service Award Criteria:

Please be sure that the description of service for the nominee clearly meets the two following criteria:
    1) Service is as a volunteer (no profit was made in performing the service)
    2) Service extends beyond the club level

Examples include serving on national board or committees, holding key positions at A-meets, putting on training camps or events that serve a regional or national base, etc.

How to Nominate:

Please submit nominations via email to Susan DeWitt
Nominations must be received by August 18th to be eligible for a 2019 Golden Service Award.

Include the following information:

    Nominee’s name and Club
    Name and Club of person submitting the nomination
    Description of the nominee’s volunteer service to orienteering. Please be sure to address both required criteria.

Previous Golden Service/Golden Troll Awardees:

This list shows that some clubs have made good use of the Golden Service program to recognize their members, but many worthy volunteers are still not on this list. Every club is encouraged to make nominations showing their appreciation for key national level volunteers.

2019 Team Trials Relay in Harriman State Park April 26

From U.S. Orienteering Coach and Senior Team ESC Chair, Erin Schirm

With WOC changing to forest WOC there is no longer a sprint as part of the trials. With the new selection process there is an option to have a mass start relay event as part of the trials. The winner of the relay will be an automatic qualifier to the relay team and the race will serve as a third evaluation race for the selection committee. I’m excited to say the HVO has agreed to help me put this race on. It will take place Friday April 26 in Harriman State Park. 

The Event 

The race will include two mass start races with forking and a brown course. The first mass start race will be for all WOC trials participants. The second mass start race will be for all other participants. The brown course is a shorter option for those looking for a little less of a physical challenge. Technically they will all be the same.  


  • 3:00-4:45 pm — Check in 
  • 4:00 pm — Team Trials mass start race (For all U.S. and Canadian Men and Women trying out for their country’s WOC teams) 
  • 4:45 pm — Mass Start for all other participants and Start of Brown course
  • 5:15 pm — Last start
  • 7:00 pm — Courses close


  1. Email erinschirm@nullgmail.com with name, SI #, and course you’re planning to run. 
  2. Show up and pay on-site between 3:00-4:45pm 


Juniors $15 
Everyone else: $20  

All proceeds after costs are covered will go back to the senior team! So come out watch some fun head-to-head racing between our elite athletes and get out and enjoy beautiful Harriman as a warm-up for the annual West Point National Event.  


Kanawauke Picnic area. This will be the parking as well as the arena. Here is the address Kanawauke Rd, Bear Mountain, NY 10911 
GPS Coordinates: 41.233242, -74.117266  


The whole Kanawauke map is embargoed from now on. This includes all terrain south of Kanawauke Rd, all terrain west of Seven Lakes Drive, and all terrain north of Sebago Beach.  

Course info

Mass Start Race: 5-6k 150m of climb. Brown: 4k 100m climb.  

For questions please email me or respond to this thread. 

Big thanks to HVO for supporting this event and to West Point for hosting the Team Trials Middle and Long races as part of their weekend!

2019 Wilson Award Winners

Aidan Minto and Itzel Barbiere earn $1,000 Iain Wilson Character Through Competition Awards

Philadelphia, PA —

The Wilson Awards committee, in partnership with Orienteering USA, is pleased to announce the winners of the sixth annual Iain Wilson Character Through Competition Award. This award honors the memory of Iain Wilson by recognizing young athletes whose efforts demonstrate character through their commitment to growth and improvement in the sport as well as their contribution to the orienteering community through service and teamwork.

This year’s winners, Itzel Barbiere of Suncoast Orienteering Adventure Racing Club and Aidan Minto of Indiana Crossroads Orienteering Club, will each receive a $1,000 travel grant.

Itzel, a resident of Bushnell, Florida, is currently enrolled at Lake Sumter State College. She aspires to a career in nursing, and hopes to someday become an orienteering coach who can “teach the newer generations of orienteers.” Currently, Itzel is on the Junior Development team and hopes to someday challenge for a spot on the national team. She is a three-time Florida State Champion and was fifth in the nation for orienteering on the Brown Course at the 2018 Navy National JROTC Invitational. She recognizes that “training is a way to become a better you.” Orienteering, Itzel writes, “defines me as a person by giving me confidence and motivation. I fell in love with the atmosphere around me every weekend.” The members of the selection committee were excited by Itzel’s recognition that the benefits of Orienteering extend well beyond the course and the competition. Itzel’s NJROTC leader Victor Martinez writes, “Itzel Barbiere exemplifies the ‘whole cadet’ model, excelling in academics, athletics, leadership and service to others as a role model student, cadet, and citizen. Her commitment to her success and, most importantly, to the success of others is unmatched.” The IWA selection committee is confident Itzel is someone of outstanding character who will be giving back to the sport of orienteering for many years to come.

Already orienteering at a very high level, Aidan is a rising star among young orienteers, but what caught the attention of the selection committee was Aidan’s work ethic and internal drive. He writes, “My orienteering experiences have made me realize that in any pursuit in life, there is always work to be done. I know that to achieve true excellence, I need to work harder than I ever have before.” At the same time, Aidan recognizes that orienteering provides him time among “the wonders of nature,” and he talks about escaping the pressures of school and day-to-day tasks when he writes, “Training and competition is a way for me to distance myself from the challenges of everyday life.” Aidan is a resident of Indianapolis, Indiana, and excels in running and French horn, as well as academics and orienteering. As his high school track and cross country coach, Taylor Marshall writes, “Aidan is a student-athlete of tremendous character. He is principled, inquisitive, and balanced.” A motivated and determined young man of strong character, Aidan’s work ethic will lead him far.

Marc Balcer, Co-Chair of the Award Committee, observes, “We were heartened to see so many applications that reminded us of Iain’s spirit. Both of our 2019 awardees described how orienteering transformed them from shy individuals into passionate advocates for the sport whose voices are heard both through their actions and words.”

“Orienteering USA is thankful to the community that supports the Wilson Awards for their continuing support of young orienteers,” writes Clare Durand, President of the Board of Directors. She continues, “We admire their efforts to provide opportunities for our athletes that might not otherwise be available.”

The Iain Wilson Character Through Competition Award

Youth Coaching Working Group

Erin Schirm has convened a new Sport Development Group for OUSA. The team has held three meetings, and will continue meeting weekly in order to set the framework for the tasks we plan to take on. Other group members include Tori Campbell, Andrea Schneider, Ethan Childs, Bob Turbyfill, Mike Schuh, Greg Ahlswede and Barb Bryant.  If you are interested in contributing to the work, please contact Erin at 845-364-1752.

What we want to accomplish in 2019:

  • Update the Levels 1, 2, and 3 OUSA coaching certification program, with an emphasis on youth coaching.
  • Create an introductory course for people who want to teach orienteering to children.
  • Develop a physical education curriculum for schools.
  • Create a fun program that clubs could offer for children on a regular basis.
  • Building on existing content

We plan to start from existing resources, including Discovering Orienteering, the USOF (now OUSA) coaching manual, and Orienteering and Map Games for Teachers that USOF published in 1996. We are collecting information from orienteering federations around the world, as well as national governing bodies of sport, the U.S. Olympic Committee’s coaching team (for example, see HowToCoachKids.org!), physical education resources, and peer-reviewed journal articles about learning and coaching orienteering and other sports.

The working group is focused on generating content. Graphic design and dissemination of the content is outside our 2019 scope. However, as we carry out our work, we will be thinking ahead to how the materials and information will be shared.

We had a good discussion at our first meeting about how to communicate orienteering to the public. Orienteering, as marketed by OUSA, appeals to a certain segment of the population. We are proud of orienteering being the “thinking sport” and running solo through the woods  — but those messages might unintentionally limit our audience. We feel that there are many other aspects of orienteering that would be hugely appealing to school administrators and teachers. Orienteering games and activities can address executive function, fundamental movement, and building life skills.

Getting started on our philosophy

Our first step will be to identify our philosophy and fundamental approach. This will allow consistent messaging and methodology throughout the coaching courses, lesson plans and activities. In a brainstorming session at our first meeting, group members felt that the following aspects would be important components of the philosophy.  We orienteer to…

  • Have fun.
  • Engage, play, tell stories.  Andrea had a great example in which she overlays a story about bringing aid to towns after a natural disaster onto an orienteering activity.
  • Learn navigation skills.
  • Communicate using maps.  
  • Build relationships with family, friends, teammates, and our community.
  • Develop confidence and become empowered.
  • Foster physical fitness: fundamental movement skills, healthy bodies, lifelong health.
  • Increase self-awareness, observation, self-monitoring and self-regulation.
  • Teach others, regardless of family income, developmental stage, or ability.
  • Understand and reflect on how orienteering activities develop transferable skills for other areas of life.
  • Appreciate nature, experience environmental immersion and awareness.
  • Discover — not just the woods, but also parks and school grounds, and see the indoors in novel and complex ways.
  • Seek excellence and self-actualization. Travel the path to mastery, realize the milestones we achieve.
  • Use what is at hand; no fancy equipment required.

What framework should we use?

It is important to establish a framework that provides common language to be used across the projects. One existing framework is the American Development Model (ADM), which addresses problems in American sports: over-specialization and prioritizing winning over having fun and long-term development. The ADM emphasizes fun and age-appropriate activities, such as small-sided play and participation in multiple sports. Another framework is the Swedish Orienteering Federation’s model, which considers the sport first through psychological, social, physical and technical areas, with age being a secondary consideration.

In choosing our framework, we should consider our audience. What is working, and what do we want to change about how orienteering is practiced in America? How do we adjust our messaging to communicate these changes? Within the existing orienteering community, we would like to see more age-appropriate activities for children. We would like to see much more emphasis on the social arena, with group and team games. Outside the existing orienteering community, we would like raise consciousness throughout the school system about the existence and value of orienteering for physical education and habits that support learning readiness.

At our third meeting, we agreed on an initial framework, and look forward to developing it and sharing it with the community.

Getting our message right

We had a good discussion about the messages that are currently in existence about orienteering in America.  While many club websites have very welcoming messages and excellent beginner support, there are some consistent website and YouTube video themes that may be unintentionally exclusionary.

Common misconceptions or misleading terminology:

  • Orienteering is a thinking sport. For a kid, that sounds like school.  Parents whose kids struggle in school immediately anticipate the fight involved to take their kids orienteering.  
    • Change: Orienteering makes your brain stronger.
  • Orienteering is a race.  For kids who don’t like sports, this doesn’t sound like fun.  Another battle parents don’t want to fight with kids who dislike sports.
    • Change: Orienteering is fun whether you want to run as fast as you can, or slow down and enjoy what you discover along the way. Develop new formats for orienteering events that are games.
  • Orienteering is a solo activity. For most kids, especially beginners, this is just. not. fun.
    • Change: Develop new formats for orienteering events that encourage — or require — participation in groups.
  • Orienteering involves misery.  The first picture a prospective orienteer sees should not involve rain, ponchos, or environmental hazard warnings.
    • Change: Orienteering is fun. Balance safety and stories of perseverance with content that shows how orienteering is achievable for anyone.
  • “Real” orienteering involves a long course through the woods.  Forests and long distances may be intimidating to kids who have never been on a hike before, and venues may be inaccessible to those without cars.
    • Change: Promote more park and urban sprints that are accessible by public transportation.
  • Orienteering is not a “real” high school sport.  Promoting the “foreign” roots and obscurity of orienteering undermines it as a socially acceptable sport for teens.
    • Change: Emphasize what orienteering has in common with more mainstream sports, such as cross country.

There are also some common lay beliefs that we might want to address:

  • Orienteering is the same as land navigation.  People with a scouting and military background expect to start on the most challenging courses because they already have some applicable skills.
    • Change: Acknowledge land navigation experience sets people apart from raw beginners. Highlight how orienteering maps are different from topographic maps, land navigation skills that are transferable, and additional skills that might be helpful.
  • I will get horribly lost orienteering, and it will be a bad experience.  Americans are uncomfortable getting lost without the protective shell of their cars.
    • Change: Link orienteering to skills and habits people practice every day, such as using a map in a video game, overriding a GPS route using local knowledge, or even finding the bathroom at night without turning on the lights

Who are we?

Andrea is OUSA’s Junior Team Administrator, and mother of two Team USA orienteers. She is also the owner and operator of I Know My Way, LLC, a company dedicated to bringing orienteering into schools and summer school camps, homeschool groups, and others. She works with teachers to create own orienteering classes, being accessible to children of all abilities.

Erin and Greg coach the OUSA national junior program. Greg is currently on the senior U.S. team. Erin has had lead responsibility for growing the quality of our elite youth program over the last few years.

Bob is a former U.S. and North American champion. He has been teaching and coaching orienteering for 20 years, at all levels. His Zero to Orange in Three Days course is legendary, and he has trained many people who have gone on to teach and coach themselves. He co-authored Discovering Orienteering with former OUSA President Chuck Ferguson.

Tori is a former coach of the USMAOC team and has course consulted for COC’s Washington Interscholastic Orienteering League for the past three seasons. She is currently an education graduate student studying neurodevelopment and executive function in children. She feels that PE curriculum should not just be for kids who identify as athletes or thinkers, but should be inclusive because all kids can benefit from orienteering. She will help us figure out how to bring orienteering to kids who learn in diverse ways.

Ethan (GVOC) has raced for Team USA on both junior and senior orienteering teams. In his role as teacher, coach and Program Director for Navigation Games, Ethan has spent the last 2.5 years bringing orienteering to thousands of children in eastern Massachusetts. He is a main author of a new 15-lesson progression for teaching children in grades K-5, curricula that is in active use in after-school programs in Cambridge, MA. Ethan coached the 2018 Junior Nationals Varsity winning team, as well as JV and Intermediate teams who medaled.

Barb (NEOC, CSU) is the founder and president of Navigation Games, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit (and member club of OUSA) dedicated to broad education in orienteering for children and families. Barb is on the OUSA board, and currently serves as the Vice President for Youth Initiatives. She previously was the Junior Team Administrator for OUSA. She will be stepping down from OUSA in September, and would love for other community members interested in taking youth orienteering forward to step up.

Mike (COC) provides “how to get started” instruction to first time participants at local events. He also individually coaches more advanced juniors, including some who have medaled at Interscholastics and Intercollegiates, as well as JWOC team members. His coaching credentials: OUSA Level 2, the Norwegian Orienteringsforbund Trener 2, and Level 2 from USA Track and Field.

Development of a Third Grade Orienteering PE Curriculum

by Barbara Bryant and Ethan Childs (Navigation Games)

Graphical abstract of Lesson 1: Boundary, Gathering, and Direction-Giving

This spring (2019), we will be piloting a four-lesson third-grade curriculum in seven Cambridge, MA, public schools.  Because many children struggle with map interpretation, the lessons build up slowly to map reading. We also bring in many aspects of orienteering that do not require a map, such as running in terrain, knowing the boundary of the area of play, giving and following instructions about where to go, building a mental map of an area by exploring it, visiting checkpoints in order, and being timed. Above all, we want to keep the children moving and having fun.

Our constraints included:

  • Four 45-minute classes
  • Minimal set-up on the part of the teacher
  • Use materials accessible to any gym teacher, with timing equipment optional
  • No need for specialized orienteering knowledge on the part of the teacher
  • Be able to deliver the content indoors on days with bad weather
  • A wide range of physical and mental abilities and types

Each lesson is documented with SHAPE America standards, objectives, materials, set-up, language for introducing the activity to students, a description of the activities, and suggestions for a wrap-up discussion. The teachers are given a written copy of the lesson plans. We introduced the lesson plans to teachers in a 45-minute workshop. The workshop started by throwing the teachers immediately into activities: the boundary run and Animal-O. Then we had a conversation about the sport of orienteering and the goals of the curriculum. We finished by arranging the detailed logistics, including the dates and times of the classes, and indoor and outdoor spaces.

During the spring, Navigation Games staff will attend every PE class (54 in total), in order to support the teacher, with the idea that the program will operate independently of us (should they so choose) starting next year. We will gather feedback on the lessons, refine them, and publish them over the summer.

The four lessons have the following topics:

  • Boundary, gathering, and clues
  • Building a mental map (Animal Orienteering)
  • Introducing the map (Animal Orienteering with a map)
  • Racing on a simple map

Below are some notes we gave the teachers:


In orienteering, participants travel outdoors, over an area that eventually includes locations that are outside the view of the teacher. It’s important that children know and can recognize the boundary of the area in which the games are played, so that the notion of boundaries and safe movement becomes ingrained as the area increases over sessions and years.

Students must also be able to return to the teacher on a signal in order to keep track of everyone, make sure no one is lost or hurt, and to provide necessary instruction and information.

Treating each other with respect and care is important as well. With a particular skill, some students will excel while others may struggle, and it’s important for students on either end of the spectrum to work together for success. Students need also be aware of the environment around them to avoid physically running into objects such as trees and rocks, as well as one another.

Observation and Mindfulness

Orienteering is an excellent way for students to practice observation and mindfulness. Being observant of one’s surroundings is a simple necessity for all movement sports, and orienteering includes an added layer of interpreting the map and surroundings, and making small and large decisions about navigating through terrain.

In order to improve, athletes develop an awareness of how their physical and emotional state will affect their performance. When they make mistakes or have trouble finding a checkpoint, they have an opportunity to review why the mistake occurred, and reflect on how they can try things differently in order to improve.

These lessons are designed so that students who are successful have the opportunity to help their classmates improve. As part of this, students must actively listen to and observe their classmates to understand their needs, and be able to address those needs based on their own experiences. Not only do they experience their own success, but they also experience the feeling of helping others succeed.


By using and naming roles, the activities keep children busy and engaged even when they are done with their own course. Including the “Helper” role distributes the responsibility away from the teacher, and helps to ensure every child gains competence in the skills being learned. Both teacher and students should have an explicit goal of making sure that everyone in the class understands the material and achieves success. Having explicitly named roles provides a shortcut in explaining the games, as the roles are used over and over again in different games.

  • Finder — Synonyms: Runner, Orienteer, Participant, Athlete
  • Hider — Synonyms: Course Setter, Game Designer
    • Finding opportunities to give children the chance to design the game is a great way to engage them more fully.
  • Clue-Giver — Synonyms: Direction Giver, Map, Dispatcher
  • Helper — Synonyms: Teacher, Coach.
    • The Helper gets consent before helping a Finder. The Finder may refuse help in order  to accomplish the task on their own.
    • The Helper does not do the task for the Finder, but rather helps the Finder learn and succeed. Give the Helper specific rules about what they can and can not say. For example, you may restrict them to “warmer/colder”. Or to asking questions such as “Where are you on the map?” “Is your map oriented?” “What do you see around you that matches the map?” “Where on the map are you going?” “Which way is that in real life?”
    • Children are often better than the teacher at figuring out how to explain things to a struggling classmate.
  • Spectator — Synonyms: Official, Timer, Counter, Cheerer, Supporter
    • When children complete their activity while others are still on their course, you may give them the option of helping or spectating. Spectating encourages paying attention to others.

In a team orienteering game, members of the team may have various roles related to executing the task. One person may specialize in reading features on the map; another may ensure that the map is correctly oriented; another may keep track of time; another may make sure that everyone’s input is considered, and so on. Building a practice of naming roles sets the groundwork for these future games, and develops life skills for successful collaboration with others.

Maps tell you how to find things

Maps are a way for one person to tell another person how to find things. Some children will be able to understand maps easily, but others will struggle with map interpretation. Therefore, we start with other ways of communicating location and direction, before introducing the map.

The “warmer/colder” game allows communication of direction relative to a single point. The Red/Blue exercise allows communication of direction in two dimensions. Distance is introduced when you say how many steps to go in the given direction.

To emphasize efficient communication of how to find things, instead of timing the activity, try counting the number of instructions that the Clue-Giver gives, and reducing those. (A Spectator can do the counting!)

Timing individuals

There is a timing component built in to some of these lessons, and orienteering is normally a timed sport (similar to cross country, cycling, speed skating, etc.). Timing students as they participate is an excellent way to encourage them to develop their speed, improve their skills, and even practice their memory. It can also provide competition for students who are interested.

It is important to remember, however, that not all students feel comfortable being timed, especially when it’s a new activity they are still learning. Even when timing is used, it’s important to emphasize accuracy in orienteering as opposed to raw speed. Finding all of the correct checkpoints is just as important (if not more important), than finding them quickly.

Timing the whole class

Timing is also used to measure the success of the class overall. This is a very effective way of uniting the students, developing their teamwork, and emphasizing cooperation. In addition, it establishes the expectations that the students are working together as a class, and that every person’s individual actions can affect the group as a whole. It encourages the practice of helping each other learn.

Building a mental map — remembering where things are

Developing a mental map is a very important step in understanding the spatial relationships between objects. By learning and remembering a specific location, students are developing the areas of their brains associated with relative positioning, distance, and imagery, as well as memory itself. When they remember a location, they must recall information important for finding that specific point, such as which side of the room, whether is underneath or on top of something, and what other objects were nearby. While a visual memory such as this may not be a standard orthographic map, their brains are still creating a guide from one place to another based on spatial information.

Matching patterns on a map to patterns in terrain

Spatial pattern identification is the cornerstone of understanding map orientation. The concept is very easy, although it might take a bit of prompting for them to make the connection. It is generally helpful to start out with something simple, but also unique, such as the layout of cones in the Geometric Animal-O.

The important connection the students develop is the relationship between the layout of space and the layout of the map, specifically in how they match. Starting with something simple like a pattern of cones to help establish this connection is an important intermediate step between understanding a basic map and a full-scale orienteering map. As the layout becomes more and more abstract (like a real map), it becomes more and more of a challenge to establish this connection.

Orienting the map

Orienting the map is one of the most fundamental skills necessary for navigation, and for many students is also one of the most challenging concepts to grasp. On the surface this is very simple — the map matches the area around you, so hold the map in the same direction — but for a student whose brain is still developing its capacity to understand the relationship between objects, this is an incredibly confusing task. Make sure students who are struggling receive patient instruction where basic and distinct landmarks are used to convey distance and direction when orienting the map.

This is one area where using student Helpers can be tremendously useful. Students who recently acquired a skill will be better able to communicate the steps necessary for other students to grasp the same concept. It will also keep successful students occupied and interested, while students who struggle will receive the individualized attention they need to learn the skill.


Katelyn Greene of Cambridge Public Schools (CPS) is a co-author on the curriculum, linking our lessons to SHAPE America standards and provided valuable feedback. Jamie McCarthy, Coordinator of K-12 Health and Physical Education for CPS, arranged the opportunity. Tom Materazzo, a CPS PE teacher, was also part of the curriculum development team. Additional CPS PE teachers involved in piloting the program include Carlos Claros-Molina, Steve Lore, Evan Allen, Susan Harris and Mark Antonelli.

The first lesson (Boundary and Gathering) is based on USA Junior Coach Erin Schirm’s middle school lesson plans. Our approach and philosophy is strongly influenced by Erin. The second lesson (Animal-O) is based on reports from Andrea Schneider and David Yee about activities for children at European orienteering events. The orienteering lessons came out of curricula developed by Navigation Games in work from 2015 to 2019 with the Cambridge Community Schools JK-5 after-school classes (led by Barb Bryant, Ethan Childs and Adam Miller), and with JK-5 Physical Education classes at Cambridge Public Schools in the spring of 2018 (led by Melanie Serguiev, with Evalin Brautigam, Tomas Kamaryt, Marie Brezinova, Ethan Childs, and Adam Miller).

A previous four-lesson version was presented at the MAHPERD 2018 conference (with Amanda Klein and Cristina Luis). Many instructors and advisors at Navigation Games have contributed to creating and testing our lessons. We have drawn from the larger world of ideas for children’s orienteering — thank you all!

2019 Texas Junior Orienteering Camp

Looking to take your junior orienteering skills to the next level? TJOC is your summer break destination. This intensive 6-day skills-based orienteering training camp is specifically designed for 13–19-year-old orienteers with orange-level course skills and above.

NTOA again hosts this year’s training camp from June 2–7, 2019, and all training, lodging, and meals take place in the air-conditioned spaces at Sid Richardson Scout Ranch in Bridgeport, TX.

Camp cost is $300 for junior participants and $100 for adult leaders.

Many of the best youth orienteers in the nation have graduated from TJOC. Join future champions at TJOC 2019!

Registration is open now! Sign up today!

Contact TJOC Director, Lt Col William Malpass, at wmalpass@nullpasadenaisd.org or visit the TJOC website at hoc.us.orienteering.org/texas-junior-orienteering-camp-2019 for more information.