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Orienteering: Putting Your Navigation Skills to the Test

Orienteering: Putting Your Navigation Skills to the Test

For anyone who spends time in the woods, whether it is in a remote national forest or a local county park, one of the most fundmental skills of which one should have a strong command is the ability to navigate.  Surprisingly, I have found this skill to be uncommon in the outdoors community for one of two reasons.  First, there are lots of people who spend much time outdoors who definitely may be considered advanced, even expert, in their chosen activity — like rock climbing, backpacking, hunters, or adventure racers — but they really don’t know how to use a compass or even properly read a map.  To them, they are satisfied that they have a GPS or that they can read a trail map.  I’m betting, though, that all of you can see the flaws in this thinking.  Or, second, they once learned how to navigate, but they haven’t practiced in several years.  Well, the ability to navigate is one of those skills that psychologists deem “perishable” … That is, if your don’t practice it regularly (even if you were an expert), you forget it.

You want to practice your land navigation skills, but you don’t know how, or where?  Well, you are totally in luck!  Better yet, you’ll have much fun too!

Our friends at Western Pennsylvania Orienteering Club just announced yesterday the details for Raccoongaine IV.  It is an orienteering event that will be held on March 24 at Raccoon Creek State Park.  It is open to all skills levels, and there will be the choice of either a 3-hour or 6-hour format.

What is orienteering?  Orienteering is the sport of land navigation.  That is, using your map and compass skills to walk or run a course to find checkpoints.  It is much like a scavenger hunt.

WPOC always manages a great event, and they are always fun and family friendly so I encourage you to check out their website.  If you can’t make Raccoongaine, or you are worried that it might be a little tough, don’t worry, WPOC will have more events throughout the year at a variety of locations throughout the Western Pennsylvania region.

Anyway, Larry and I will be there … We hope to see you there too!


Are you interesting in learning to navigate, or to refresh your skills? True North already has a “Basic Wilderness Navigation” course scheduled for March 9, 2013.  Just check out the details on our Schedule.


Erik Kulick leaning aginst wall with True North badge on blue shirt

About the Author

Erik is the founder of True North Wilderness Survival School. He is a police officer, EMS provider, a Wilderness EMT, and a Fellow of the Academy of Wilderness Medicine. He has been featured in national and international media, including CNN, the Associated Press, and Backpacker. To learn more about Erik, visit him on LinkedIn and be sure to follow him on Facebook and YouTube.

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