BSA Supply No. 35925

Orienteering, the use of map and compass to find locations and plan a journey, has been a vital skill for humans for thousands of years. Orienteering is also a recognized sport at the Olympic Games, and thousands of people participate in the sport each year in local clubs and competitions.


  1. Show that you know first aid for the types of injuries that could occur while orienteering, including cuts, scratches, blisters, snakebite, insect stings, tick bites, heat and cold reactions (sunburn, heatstroke, heat exhaustion, hypothermia), and dehydration. Explain to your counselor why you should be able to identify poisonous plants and poisonous animals that are found in your area.
  2. Explain what orienteering is.
  3. Do the following:
    1. Explain how a compass works. Describe the features of an orienteering compass.
    2. In the field, show how to take a compass bearing and follow it.
  4. Do the following:
    1. Explain how a topographic map shows terrain features. Point out and name five terrain features on a map and in the field.
    2. Point out and name 10 symbols on a topographic map.
    3. Explain the meaning of declination. Tell why you must consider declination when using map and compass together.
    4. Show a topographic map with magnetic north-south lines.
    5. Show how to measure distances on a map using an orienteering compass.
    6. Show how to orient a map using a compass.
  5. Set up a 100-meter pace course. Determine your walking and running pace for 100 meters. Tell why it is important to pace-count.
  6. Do the following:
    1. Identify 20 international control description symbols. Tell the meaning of each symbol.
    2. Show a control description sheet and explain the information provided.
    3. Explain the following terms and tell when you would use them: attack point, collecting feature, aiming off, contouring, reading ahead, handrail, relocation, rough versus fine orienteering.
  7. Do the following:
    1. Take part in three orienteering events. One of these must be a cross-country course.*
    2. After each event, write a report with (1) a copy of the master map and control description sheet, (2) a copy of the route you took on the course, (3) a discussion of how you could improve your time between control points, and (4) a list of your major weaknesses on this course. Describe what you could do to improve.
  8. Do ONE of the following:
    1. Set up a cross-country course that is at least 2,000 meters long with at least five control markers. Prepare the master map and control description sheet.
    2. Set up a score orienteering course with at least 12 control points and a time limit of at least 60 minutes. Set point values for each control. Prepare the master map and control description sheet.
  9. Act as an official during an orienteering event. This may be during the running of the course you set up for requirement 8.
  10. Teach orienteering techniques to your patrol, troop, or crew.

* Note to the Counselor: While orienteering is primarily an individual sport, BSA Youth Protection procedures call for using the buddy system. Requirement 7a can be completed by pairs or groups of Scouts.



  • Bagness, Martin. Outward Bound Orienteering Handbook. Lyon's Press, 1995.
  • Boga, Steven. Orienteering: The Sport of Navigating With Map and Compass. Stackpole Books, 1997.
  • Bratt, Ian. Orienteering: The Essential Guide to Equipment and Techniques. Stackpole Books, 2002.
  • Kjellstroem, Bjoern. Be Expert With Map and Compass: The Complete Orienteering Handbook. Hungry Minds/John Wiley & Sons, 1994.
  • McNeill, Carol, Tom Renfrew, and Jean Cory-Wright. Teaching Orienteering, 2nd ed. Human Kinetics, 1998.
  • McNeill, Carol. Orienteering (The Skills of the Game). Crowood Press, 1996.
  • Nimvik, Maria, Barbro Roennberg, and Sue Harvey. The World of Orienteering. IOF, 1998.
  • Norman, Bertil, and Arne Yngstroem. Orienteering Technique From Start to Finish. Sweden, 1991.
  • Palmer, Peter, ed. The Complete Orienteering Manual. Crowood Press, 1998.
  • Renfrew, Tom. Orienteering. Human Kinetics, 1996.


  • Braggins and Pearson. Trail Orienteering, 21 minutes. A&E Orienteering Inc., 1997.
  • Cassone, Chris. Orienteering—All Welcome, 12 minutes. A&E Orienteering Inc., 1998.
  • Finding Your Way in the Wild: An Easy, Step-by-Step Guide to Using a Map and Compass, 35 minutes. Available from http://skimaps.altrec.com.
  • Orienteering: The First Steps. Part One: Orienteering at School , 25 minutes. Scarborough Orienteering.
  • Orienteering: The First Steps. Part Two: First Events in the Woods , 25 minutes. Scarborough Orienteering.
  • Orienteering: Going for It. Part Three: From Light Green to Brown , 27 minutes. Scarborough Orienteering.
  • Orienteering: Going for It. Part Four: Reaching the Top, 27 minutes. Scarborough Orienteering.

Organizations and Web Sites

Canadian Orienteering Federation
Web site: http://www.orienteering.ca

International Orienteering Federation
Web site: http://www.orienteering.org

U.S. Geological Survey
U.S. Department of the Interior
12201 Sunrise Valley Drive
Reston, VA 20192
Web site: http://www.usgs.gov

U.S. Orienteering Federation
P.O. Box 1444
Forest Park, GA 30298-1444
Telephone: 404-363-2110
Web site: http://www.us.orienteering.org

Equipment Sources

A&E Orienteering
74 Decorah Drive
St. Louis, MO 63146
Telephone: 314-872-3165
Web site: http://www.aeorienteering.com

Berman's Orienteering Supply
23 Fayette St.
Cambridge, MA 02139
Telephone: 617-868-7416

The Compass Store
2252 Alton Frank Way
Dacula, GA 30019
Telephone: 770-682-9885
Web site: http://www.thecompassstore.com

Orienteering Unlimited Inc.
Telephone: 914-248-5957
Web site: http://www.orienteeringunlimited.com

Scarborough Orienteering and BAOC Equipment
3015 Holyrood Drive
Oakland, CA 94611
Telephone: 510-530-3059
Toll-free telephone: 877-850-2420
Web site: http://orienteer.com