On November 20, 15 scouts and 3 adult leaders went to a Hudson Valley orienteering meet in Fahnestock State Park just off the Taconic State Parkway.   If you’ve never been to one of these competitions before, they are a lot of fun and intensely competitive.  The object is to work your way around a course that has been set up in the woods moving from checkmark to checkmark as fast as you can.  All you have is a map, a compass, a scoresheet, a few friends and a lot of intuition.  I would describe it as a timed scavenger hunt in the woods.

When we first arrived, we saw a lot of army soldiers who were practicing on very difficult orienteering courses.  We were then assisted by a man who had been teaching and practicing orienteering for 50 years.  He gave us a little tutorial on what we were supposed to do.  Little tricks like always holding a  map with it oriented properly (ie even if it is upside down), the meanings of certain symbols and how to fold a map properly came in handy.  After the lesson, we split up into three groups of five and went on the beginner white course while one group braved a more difficult yellow course.  The course was pretty easy and essentially just circled the lake.  There were a half dozen or so checkpoints where we had to carefully mark our cards with special stamps so that we could prove we visited the checkpoint.  After lunch, everybody decided to go on a harder course.  Naturally the adults got lost along the way but we eventually found one another.  Some scouts went with Mr. Landy on the hardest course and some went with Mr. Hopkins and Mr. Weir.   

Orienteering was a lot of fun and a useful skill.  Best of all, all of the scouts on the trip passed their advancement requirement for orienteering where we had to follow a course with a map and compass for at least a mile.