Orienteering is a great activity for Scouts and other youth groups.

This is a great kid-made video covering the basics of orienteering. Feel free to have Scouts watch it before coming to an event.

Orienteers of all ages and skill levels are welcome at most all CROC events. A question we hear a lot is: "How can I get my kids or scout group involved in orienteering, especially since I don't know much about it myself?" Well, CROC has that covered - just show up at one of our events, and leave the course setting, instructions and mapping to us! At nearly all CROC meets we have beginner clinics and a beginner course, which typically requires zero compass use. Scout groups are welcome at almost all CROC events, not just Scout-O, see below.

1) CROC hosts an annual event just for youth groups: the annual Scout-O, normally held the Saturday after Easter.  Scout-O is open to all kinds of youth groups, not just scouts. Courses are set so merit badges requirements may be met. For more information about the Annual CROC Scout-O, see our Events Page or contact our scouting coordinator.

2) Scout and youth groups are welcome at any CROC orienteering event, held year round. If you had fun at scout orienteering, we’d love to see you back at another event. Check our Events and Results page for the complete yearly schedule.

3) If you want to take your youth group out on an orienteering course on your own schedule, then try our permanent orienteering courses.  These are set up in local parks and urban areas to provide a year round opportunity for anyone to practice navigation skills.  They are free and open to all.  Complete information on permanent orienteering courses. (croc.org  > Get Better  > Permanent Courses)

4) If you want to learn or practice map and compass skills, we have a series of tutorial videos that cover all the core skills or wilderness navigation. Search Youtube for "Columbia River Orienteering Club", or see them on our website under croc.org > Get Better > Navigation Videos.

5) Want to test your navigation knowledge? Take the "Wilderness Navigation Challenge", a series of questions and answers/explanations that cover all the core elements of backcountry navigation. This is a self-paced scroll through a large PDF file, and is a great rainy day activity. See it here: croc.org  > Get Better  > Navigation Challenge.

6) A merit badge requirement is to set up your own orienteering course. CROC can help with that too! CROC has specialized orienteering maps for many park areas around Portland, and we can probably give you a blank one so you can make a course. Here’s an example of a blank orienteering map for Gabriel Park in SW Portland. And, here is a link to a map showing most everywhere around Portland where we have regular events. If one of these locations is close to you and you like to use it to set up an orienteering course yourself, please contact our scout coordinator and we can help arrange it.

Some new orienteering fans at the 2015 Scout-O at Champoeg State Park.

Some new orienteering fans at the 2015 Scout-O at Champoeg State Park.

Orienteering & Scouts

by Terradan Landchild, former CROC Youth/Scouting Coordinator, and updated by Paul Guthrie

Orienteering is a FUN activity for Boy Scout and Girl Scout units (as well as any other youth organization)! Scouts love the freedom to choose their own route between control points, gaining self confidence and self reliance. Unit leaders appreciate having the experts in an orienteering club set up the courses, teach the beginner clinics, and administer the meets.

Orienteering is the sport of land navigation. Participants develop the skills of route-finding, the very definition of the word "scout". Traditional pacing-on-a-compass bearing is next to useless for finding your way in the wilderness (although it is a necessary skill for surveying and map-making). The sport of orienteering develops not only map-reading skills, but also judgment and strategy. But perhaps most importantly, orienteering is FUN, while surveying (pacing a distance along a compass bearing) is as boring as geometry class. Baden Powell defined Scouting as, "Having fun while learning."

It is strongly recommended that adult leaders send Scouts out on an O-course in very small groups – teams of two or solo being best. If an adult participates with the Scouts, by all means let a Scout hold the map and make the route choices. Otherwise, the Scouts simply "follow the leader" and gain nothing from the experience except a nice hike.

The BSA First Class Orienteering Requirement is best earned by having Scouts complete an Advanced Beginner (Yellow) course as individuals rather than as a team. The Yellow level course is laid out along well-marked trails with prominent landmarks, and is developmentally appropriate for 9-12 year-old youth. The Scout may be shadowed by an adult for safety if necessary, but the Scout must be completely unassisted. Have the Scout run a shorter Beginner (White) course first for training and to build confidence. (Any Eagle Scout should be able to complete an Intermediate course solo!)

The BSA Orienteering Merit Badge should be earned by working with a chartered orienteering club. BSA National and Cascade Pacific Council have not provided leaders with appropriate resources nor training to implementing the new Orienteering requirements.

The national organization, Orienteering USA, charters local orienteering clubs such as the Columbia River Orienteering Club (CROC) who prepare detailed orienteering maps and design courses to national and international standards. This work is extremely time-consuming, detailed and exacting, and requires specialized equipment. Take advantage of our expertise and simply bring your Scouts to any local meet!!!

The Columbia River Orienteering Club holds at least one special event each year designed specifically for youth groups: the Annual CROC Scout-O. BSA and GSUSA Troops are specifically invited to attend to satisfy rank-advancement requirements, have fun, and compete with each other and other units for cool medals! Each year, several hundred Scouts and leaders participate!

For more information about the Annual CROC Scout-O, contact our club Scouting coordinator.