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Orienteering Lesson Plan


Beginner Questions
What is orienteering?
What do I do at a meet?
Do I need any experience?
Do I have to run? or Do I have to walk?
How much does it cost?
Is there training available?
What should I wear?
What kind of compass do I need?

Group Questions
Can you come teach my Scouts/Club/Friends to orienteer?
Can we Orienteer as a group?
How much does it cost for a group to Orienteer?
Why do we need to call (or email) you before we bring a large group to Orienteer?
How can I help GAOC with my group?

Club Questions
You guys are volunteers? You must be crazy.
Who makes the maps?
Will you make a map of my favorite Park / School / Backyard? 
How do I volunteer?
Where does the money go?

Intermediate Questions
What are the color-coded courses?
When do I move up from one course to another?
What should "MY" colored course be?

Competitive Questions
How do I compete?
Do you actually run?
How fast do I need to be?
What are the different types of meet?
What's an A meet?
What is USOF? Should I join?



Beginner Questions

1) What is orienteering?
Orienteering is a cross-country running sport, demanding physical and mental fitness. The sport emphasizes map reading and the ability to make quick decisions under physically challenging conditions.

Skill and experience can take the most ardent competitor into international competition, meeting orienteers from around the world. Although Orienteering is a highly organized sport, families and individuals may participate on a non-competitive basis as well. Map Hiking is non-competitive, requiring the same skills, but you can enjoy the forest scenery at a more leisurely pace. Whether you are Orienteering or map hiking the challenge is the same and the courses are organized similarly.

2) What do I do at a meet?
You use a map and a compass to complete an Orienteering course. It usually takes an hour or two, and takes place in a natural setting like a park.

3) Do I need any experience?
No. We have courses for all skill levels, and we have beginner instruction at every meet.

4) Do I have to run? or Do I have to walk?
You may run or walk. We attract all levels of Orienteers, from casual walkers to competitive elite experts.

5) How much does it cost?
Cheap Thrills. The entry fee is $7 for club members and $10 for non-members. And if your going out in a group and just need another map, that's just $3/map.  Also, most parks also have a parking fee or usage fee that you have to pay. (State Parks charge $5 to park).

6) Is there training available?
We have training available at every local meet, just ask. It is free, and is given by our volunteers.  Show up at 10am for training. 
7) What should I wear?
For beginners, wear long pants. Long sleeve shirts are also popular. Hikers usually wear sturdy walking shoes. Runners usually wear running shoes. Otherwise just dress for the weather.
8) What kind of compass do I need?
Beginners don't need a compass. It does sort of get in the way when you are trying to learn to read a map. But if you "just gotta have one," bring a baseplate compass. The compasses that you "sight" through are not widely used for Orienteering.

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Group Questions

1) Can you come teach my Scouts/Club/Friends to orienteer?
It is much easier for us if you bring your group to one of our meets. We get this request all the time, and there is no way that our small group of volunteers can satisfy everyone. We have instruction available at every meet.
2) Can we Orienteer as a group?
Yes, within reason. Groups larger than 2 quickly become a leader and followers. If the followers want to learn to navigate it's not much fun. Very young groups (Cub Scouts, Brownies) are much better off if an adult accompanies them, and in that case the group can be larger.

3) How much does it cost for a group to Orienteer?
If the group uses one map, then it is the same as for an individual. If they want extra maps, then each additional map within a group costs $3.
4) Why do we need to call (or email) you before we bring a large group to Orienteer? 
So that we can have enough maps and volunteers to support you. It's very upsetting when we run out of maps :-)
5) How can I help GAOC with my group?
Tell us that you are coming, and how many you are bringing. When you get to the meet, have one person in charge of handing out the registration forms, making sure they are filled out correctly, and collecting the money. 

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Club Questions

1) You guys are volunteers? You must be crazy.
You too, can be a crazy GAOC volunteer. Spend your weekends away from home. Get leathery wind-burned skin in the winter and heatstroke in the summer. Always have a poison plant rash and insect bites. Carry water jugs into the woods for people to drink. Put out the controls before everyone else arrives and pick them up after everyone else goes home. Get lost trying to find obscure control sites.

Spend a lot of time in the woods. See parts of Georgia (and the world) that others never see. Make a lot of friends. Gain self-confidence. Learn something new. Learn to think while exercising. Have fun. Become a very good navigator.
2) Who makes the maps?
We make the maps. You too, can make maps for the GAOC. See the question above, except that making maps is expensive, and it's not easy, and it takes a lot of time.

3) Will you make a map of my favorite Park/School/Backyard?
The quick answer is No. The real answer is that we have several years worth of projects that we would like to do, and your project, even if it is the greatest place on Earth, would have to wait. Also not every park or school or Boy Scout reservation is suitable. And it costs money. We do have GAOC members who contract their services to make maps. If you're interested, contact the VP of Maps, Kevin Haywood.

4) How do I volunteer?
We always need volunteers. Start coming to meets, introduce yourself to the regulars, and we'll put you to work. You don't have to be an expert Orienteer to volunteer.  Just let us know.
5) Where does the money go?
GAOC is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Our income goes into more maps, meet equipment and supplies.  The overwhelming cost of running an Orienteering club is in the maps and they are very valuable.  The GAOC maps are copyrighted and may not be copied. When you do copy them, you are stealing from our club.

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Intermediate Questions


1) What are the color-coded courses?
This is how we cater to people of different skill levels and ages. Each course is a step up in difficulty and/or length. The following table gives the details for our local meets, NOT FOR AN A MEET. Typically, we offer White, Yellow, Orange, Green and (sometimes) Red courses at our local meets.  Distances are "straight-line."  Actual course distances depend on the individual's route choice.  





Distance *

White beginner

~ 3K

controls on trails or marked routes
Yellow advanced beginner ~ 3K controls just off trails or marked routes
Orange Intermediate 4-5K contour features are introduced, trails no longer primary route choice
Brown expert ~ 4K short short expert, rarely seen at a local meet
Green expert 5-7K short expert
Red expert 6-8K medium expert
Blue expert 8-10K long expert, rarely seen at a local meet.



2) When do I move up from one course to another?
A difficult question to answer. If you can average 15/20 minutes/km you can probably move up, but remember the 3 hour time limit, and ask yourself how long you can realistically concentrate on your navigation. The biggest mistake we see is trying to do too much too soon.

3) What should "MY" colored course be?
See the above question. For the local meets, it is whatever you are comfortable with. For an A meet, it is your age-group class, see the A meet questions below. We do not do age-groups at the local meets, just courses by color.

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Competitive Questions


1) How do I compete?
Practice, practice, practice. Get in shape. Come to a bunch of meets. Volunteer. Set some courses. Do bag pickup. Travel to away meets. etc. etc.

2) Do you actually run?
Crazy as it may sound at first, yes we do. It's a lot of fun, really. And we hardly ever get injured. Of course, running through the woods is a lot different than running on a road.

3) How fast do I need to be?
Not very fast to compete at the local meets. Ideally, a course should challenge you equally mentally and physically. Actually, most people can run a lot faster than they can Orienteer. Anything less than 15 minutes/km at a local meet and you can be very competitive. At a national meet you need to be doing 10 min/km or less to place well in your age group. In the elite classes it's more like 7-8 min/km. For comparison, a 50 minute 10K is 5 min/km.

4) What are the different types of meets?
See Special Events for a detailed description. A "regular" orienteering meet is point to point, take the controls in order, fastest person wins.

A Score-o leaves the order up to the competitor. Controls have a point value. Most points in shortest time wins.

A Night-o is just like regular Orienteering, it's just in the dark, and, yes, you bring a flashlight!

The Bubba Goat is a mass start, following allowed, skip one control, beat the time limit race.

There may be other special rules from time to time.

5) What's an A meet?
A United States Orienteering Federation sanctioned A-meet has all the color courses, age-group awards, and pre-marked maps. The courses are more carefully set and tested multiple times for accuracy.  And you can earn national Ranking points at A-meets.

6) What is USOF? Should I join?
If you join USOF you get the magazine "Orienteering North America", a national Ranking, and a discount at A-meets. If you plan to compete outside Georgia it's probably a good idea.

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