Starting a Club
Starting an orienteering club will allow you to host and participate in events in your backyard! Anyone can start a club, but remember, it can be hard work. You should consider two aspects: people and maps.
Benefits of starting a club
- Orienteer where you are!
- Get support from our club support committee or a the nearest club.
- Access to Orienteering USA’s liability insurance
- Potentially a grant to help get started
People: You want to look for other people who are interested. This will make it easier than starting a club by yourself. Groups to consider are: runners, skiers, scouts, outdoor groups, etc.
Maps: When figuring out where to make your first map you should look for a popular, easily accessible area. Local parks are great to use but make sure you get permission to map and use it. You should make sure the area isn’t too large as long maps take much longer to produce. Consider producing a detailed street map for other additional events getting started. Check out the mapping page for a more information.
Check out our 10 step guide to get started for more information.
Look at our resources for hosting an event
Don’t forget to check out our other organize pages that have a lot of great resources.
Somewhat like standard topographic or hiking trail maps, but bigger (at finer scale), better (far more mapped features), more accurate and more up-to-date, orienteering maps are among the most detailed topographic maps available, and they take significant skill and time to make.
Maps are generally owned (and copyrighted) by the Orienteering USA club nearest that terrain, and these clubs often make their maps available for a small fee to outdoor enthusiasts, educators and land managers, in addition to their primary use as the basis for the local and national orienteering competitions they host.
The International Orienteering Federation governs the specifications for mapping. There are currently 4 separate specifications: Orienteering Maps, Sprint Orienteering Maps, MTB Orienteering Maps, and Ski Orienteering Maps. The specifications can be found here.
Land is as fundamental to orienteering as maps are. After land has been located that is suitable for orienteering, two important land-related tasks remain:
- Obtaining permission to use the land
- Taking care of the land
Several resources help with land access. These include:
- Orienteering USA’s Land Use Policy
- Park Supervisor’s Guide
- Environmental Orienteering Handbook
- Hosting Events Off-Trail
- OUSA’s Insurance Coverage
Andrea Schneider’s Lidar mapping Guide
OCAD and Lidar (Peter Goodwin)
Getting Started with OOM (Kelsey Breseman)
A brief guide to orienteering mapping
Creating Orienteering Basemaps using Lidar (Bill Cusworth)
Orienteering mapping using a GPS watch (Gord Hunter)
Georgia Area Orienteering Club’s Junior Mapper Guide
Orienteering Mappers Int. (Facebook Group)
Sprint mapping techniques (Not updated for ISSprOM)
Point of contact
Orienteering USA Mapping Coordinator, Greg Lennon.
Orienteering USA provides information on mapping service providers as a service to members and others. Inclusion of a service provider does not imply endorsement.
It’s recommended that you request samples of their work and request a valid time schedule before contracting with them. Note that visas must be taken into account for mappers based outside the U.S.
Good course design is more than finding some features to hang controls on. It involves looking at the legs themselves, changing up the experience, and testing different skills along the way to challenge participants as they enjoy your course. This takes significant prep time.
At the highest levels, you’ll also need an understanding of expected finish time for different skill levels of participant.
Whether you’re setting your first local course or moving up to setting national events, a methodology is useful. Basically, it goes like this:
A methodology to course design is below. Provide as much time as you wish based on the level of competition. Local courses will receive much less time and consideration than national or international courses.
- Become familiar with the terrain – conduct both a map and on the ground survey to identify your start and finish locations, good areas for controls, corridors for routes, and any possible map issues to fix prior to the event or avoid.
- Set and test initial courses – Many course designers start designing with the white course then move onto the more difficult courses. Don’t agonize over this step. Once you set initial courses, go out along with other interested people not competing to test the courses so you can identify tweaks and adjustments.
- Refine and finalize the courses – Update the courses based on feedback from test runners. If you are hosting a national event, consult with your Orienteering USA course consultant on your courses. If you are hosting a local event, receive feedback from a more experienced course designer if possible. Continue testing and refinement until you are satisfied.
There are many technologies, if appropriately used, can provide huge advantages to your organization.
OrienteeringUSA can provide certain capabilities free of cost for 501(c)3 member clubs. We can provide a subdomain, an @orienteeringusa google group, and a Team drive. Learn More
Course Design – Purple pen is a great orienteering course design software. It is very easy to use and accepts PDF, OCAD, and OOM map files. This is a great piece of software to help clubs find more course designers.
Online registration – Orienteering USA’s Event Register is a great solution for pre-registration. It is a secure server and is currently free for local events and $75 for a national event. It seamlessly integrates with your club’s own paypal account and many electronic punch software. Create your registrar account by clicking on event officials login in the top right. Contact Ed Despard with any questions.
Need more ideas? IOF has an extensive list of software for orienteering.
If you have a specific questions and you can’t find the answer or want to get deeper into orienteering, here are some communities that may be useful resources:
- Attackpoint – The premier English speaking orienteering community. This is a location to view orienteers’ training logs, upcoming events, results from past events, and discussions regarding all things orienteering.
- World of O – News, headlines, maps, and blog links from orienteers around the world.
- International Orienteering Federation – Orienteering USA is a member of the international federation for orienteering. You can sign up for their newsletter.
- Orienteering Mappers International – A Facebook group with orienteering mappers all over the world.
- ClubNet – An email based discussion list for club leaders and other interested volunteers. Many announcements are made through this list and it is regularly used by the board and committees to get out information to club leaders more quickly than the newsletter. Every club should have at least one member monitoring this list. Subscribe to ClubNet
- BoardNet – An email based discussion list for the OUSA board to discuss proposals. While posting to this list is restricted to board members, any OUSA member is welcome to join to follow the discussion. Subscribe to BoardNet
- Trail-O Group – A discussion group for trail orienteering in the US.
- OMap Group – A discussion group for orienteering mapping.
For orienteering to continue, long-term access to land is essential. To ensure access, we are responsible stewards of the land using defined environmental practices.