Orienteering for the Young

photo by Georg Nadorff



is an outdoor sport using maps to find one's way. The children shown on the cover, above, are finding their way to terrain features marked by orange and white nylon markers on a String orienteering course.

For all ages

For children as young as toddlers there is a special orienteering course called the string course. The entire route is marked from start to finish, so no one gets lost. A simple map shows the route and the location of the checkpoints, called controls. As children become ready, they can learn about maps, map symbols, direction, figuring out where they are, and so forth, all while on a well-marked course they can follow themselves.

Older children and adults can learn to orienteer on White courses. The White course is for beginners, and is the easiest point-to-point orienteering course. Points are marked on the map, and the goal is to find them in order. Children usually first do White courses with their family or youth group, then with other children, and finally by themselves.

A guide for parents

This 'booklet' is designed as a guide for parents, teachers, youth group leaders, and orienteering organizers (but it can be fun as a general introduction to orienteering). It covers a wide variety of topics that are useful in getting children involved in orienteering, helping them get more out of orienteering, and expanding their skills with the resources available in North America. Some sections are suitable for people new to orienteering, and others will be of interest to those already orienteering.


Orienteering for the Young, by James E. Baker, was published in 1990 by the United States Orienteering Federation as a booklet. Some of the information included therein was included on the old USOF web site. Most of the original information is now included here, with general updates and an updated resource listing.

Our new section called New to O1 includes much useful information and many resources as well, so be sure to investigate the information there.

[For "printer-friendly" purposes, footnote numbers next to links throughout the document refer to URLs, listed at the end of the document.]