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Discussion: Best description of orienteering?

in: Orienteering; General

Aug 12, 2018 1:31 AM # 
How to describe orienteering in the most interesting way to people who don't know what it is?
What is your favorite description?
Aug 12, 2018 2:56 AM # 
It is like geo-caching except it is you that does the thinking, not the box.
Aug 12, 2018 5:57 AM # 
Not trying to be negative, but a comparison to geo-caching doesn't resonate well with me. Half the population will say - what is geo-caching? And the other half will think "geo-caching" and walk away. I prefer a comparison to cross-country running. Not sure how to do it though. Its more than just cross-country running with a map.
Aug 12, 2018 7:23 AM # 
Aug 12, 2018 9:04 AM # 
Trail running without the trail?
Aug 12, 2018 10:31 AM # 
@ TheInvisibleLog The originator of this thread did not ask what is the best way to describe the sport she asked what is our favorite description. I'm sorry my taste does not match yours. I actually agree my geo-caching comparison has its drawbacks but I like to use it tongue in cheek. I also compared it the same way to that app people were playing with their cell phones a couple of years ago. Now, what was that called?
Aug 12, 2018 10:57 AM # 
I think it depends on your intended audience. Who are you trying to relate to?

To call it 'running' in any sense is misleading. Most Americans do very little 'running' in an O event. Most runners I've invited to come out, become very frustrated by the amount of THINKING they're required to do, and how little they can actually run. They turn in their card and never show up again. They're looking for exercise, and all they get are mosquito bites, sprains and scratches.

What attracts me to the sport is the adventure...going alone into the great unknown. And the exuberance I feel on a bright spring the open woods with a map in my hands...spiking control after control...and looking forward to comparing my run with my clubmates in an hour or so.

The complex mix of pleasures (technical, athletic, social) are difficult to summarize; and only attained after considerable time and effort. But IMO there's no other activity quite like O.

How do you convey that to a newbie?
Aug 12, 2018 12:16 PM # 
Gord- was that Pokemon-Go? That was when people walked into you on the footpath whilst staring intently at the phone. I admit to not "getting" that either.
Aug 12, 2018 1:02 PM # 
It is cross country running race, but instead of route being marked there is just checkpoints along the way and you can run any route you wish - even short cut though thickets - between checkpoints by using the checkpoint map they give you at start.
Aug 12, 2018 1:51 PM # 
Some folks are *still* playing Pokémon Go (not me, never did, but I see references in my Facebook feed).

When I call it a navigation competition with a map, people ask if it's like geocaching or the Amazing Race TV show or a scavenger hunt, so these are within their understanding (at least among the folks I hang out with). :-)
Aug 12, 2018 2:58 PM # 
I think most American orienteers *do* run, at least part of the course.
Or maybe I hang out with a different crowd than Chitownclark. I know my cohort is a bit younger, but even the M70s I know are usually running (and impressively fast too).
I don't really have anything to add to the actual discussion, just hijacking a little. Sorry.
Aug 12, 2018 3:32 PM # 
I usually give the concise description, "cross-country running, through the woods, with a map and compass". But it does depend on the audience. Some people might be more intrigued by hearing that it's just like what you imagined following a pirate treasure map would be like, when you were a kid. That said, my descriptions are probably not that interesting, because there are exactly zero people who orienteer who learned about it from me.
Aug 12, 2018 5:07 PM # 
Is the proportion of people who orienteer who learned about it from JJ statistically different that the proportion of people who learned from someone else? There may not be enough observations to disprove the null hypothesis, however your description is formulated.
Aug 12, 2018 5:51 PM # 
Running with electronics (hoping they all work) with the goal of collecting a receipt of numbers and a gps track, by which I can watch colorful dots chase each other on a monitor. I think that is what JJ meant to say.
Aug 12, 2018 6:04 PM # 
It's really important to find the exact definition of orienteering, as a social-fairness-focused, family-friendly, FARPA-compliant activity designed for NJROTC training and boy-scout merit-badge fulfillment.

Having a Mission and a Vision statements is equally critical.

PS: One cannot include in the definition word "running" as this will certainly offend those who do not run, for this same reason one cannot put "thru the woods", as there are no such in Labrador or Sahara Desert
Aug 12, 2018 8:42 PM # 
Me, introducing myself: "I don't know if you know what orienteering is."

Bob Richards, two-time Olympic gold medalist in the pole vault: "Sure do. That's where you run across mountains and eat lizards."

That's my favorite, and there's no second place.
Aug 12, 2018 9:49 PM # 
Just read that, and already it's my favorite, too.
Aug 13, 2018 1:46 AM # 
Team Canada driving to a Harriman training camp in early 80’s. We stop at a restaurant near Corning, NY while wearing our team Canada jackets.

Server: Y’all a hockey team or somethin’?
Us: No we are an orienteering team
Server: Oh cool i know that sport

20 minutes later while we are leaving restaurant

Server “Good luck on the water!”
Us: “Huh, we race in the woods”
Server: “Then what are the oars for?”

Oar ienteering??
Aug 13, 2018 2:07 AM # 
Isn't there another classic tale about oaring and tiering?
Aug 13, 2018 1:58 PM # 
Mark Dominie and the port-a-john delivery truck driver I believe
Aug 13, 2018 4:12 PM # 
The late Colin Kirk did write a series of tales about two Irish adventurers who were known to everyone as O'Ree and T Ring.
Aug 13, 2018 6:16 PM # 
No favorites, it really depends on who I am talking with, whether it is at a field trip convention, or in front of a class, single level or multi-age group, an activity they want to do or have to do, ......

- Quickest definition - Fast pace precision navigation

- Scavenger hunt, but with all things to find already marked on a map, no riddles to solve, nothing hidden

- Comparing Pokemon-go and orienteering to cross-word puzzles: If you had the choice between a paper crossword puzzle and one on a screen that fills the words itself and you only hit "Enter" to confirm the word, which one would you chose?

- Like Meals-On-Wheels - you get a list of people (is not the same every day), with their addresses, listed in the optimal order, food is packed in the cooler in the same way, to minimize opening the cooler and moving things around, or they get cold.You have to deliver to all, in order, and take as little time as possible. Entering all addresses in the GPS takes too long, and you still need to be able to read a map and make decisions on the optimal route, as the GPS will lead you in the order you entered addresses, and will not optimize order for you. An mp would be food to the wrong person - and that could be really bad, e.g. for a diabetic

Especially when teaching orienteering to groups that do not see the reason why to even try to navigate with your brain where there are GPS tools and gadgets, and Siris and Alexas, I do like to use real-life analogies where one can not use GPS, just so as to emphasize the importance of still being able to navigate:
- rescuers after a hurricane, sent to check up, e.g., on 10 houses shown on a map
- drs. without borders, working a tent city refugee camp, with no street names and all tents looking alike, with a roughly sketched map, and probably no one spending their time to create a navigation App for it

- "navigation skills develop before talking, reading or writing" (and is the first skill to start disappearing when Alzheimer strikes). Incredulous look from kids. "When do you think you navigated for the first time?" Lots of answers that often start with some trip when they got to hold a map. I ask them about their first day of K or Pre-S or Daycare - and whether they were shown how to get to the bathroom, and whether it took them a long time to remember how to get there on their own - laughs "of course not" - "that is navigation". And to the question whether they think they navigated earlier, some will say "when I started to crawl" - makes my day when I see the wheels turning :) at that young age.
Aug 13, 2018 6:41 PM # 
These are really good!
Last time I tried to explain it in front of my friends, I talked for about 5-10 minutes and then one of them asked, "So it's like the Hunger Games, just with a map?". I'm not sure how he got to that conclusion; I must have explained it too vaguely, so next time I guess I'll refer back to this post... :/
Aug 13, 2018 10:15 PM # 
It IS like Hunger Games, just with a map. When I saw the Hunger Games I thought how much better they all could do if they had maps. It wasn't fair that only Sutherland had the map.
Throughout the education process you will find educators impressing the importance of developing problem solving on their students.
There are many versions of the wording but generally the methods come down to Identify the problem.
Analyze the problem. ...
Develop multiple solutions. ...
Choose the optimal solution.
And carry out the chosen solution.

That is the process for each and every orienteering 'leg', some legs more complex than others.
How do you get that down to a simple phrase to explain orienteering? I don't know but I do know that I have shifted from saying that orienteering is learning about land navigation to orienteering is about learning to make decisions and solve problems quickly by using a map and compass.
Aug 13, 2018 11:33 PM # 
Genuine Irish description - "Roaring and Tearing" (
Aug 14, 2018 12:14 AM # 
@Quicksilver: I was explaining rogaining to some (sedentary) nurses I work with, and afterwards one of them said "So, it's like the Hunger Games but nobody gets killed?"
Aug 14, 2018 12:50 AM # 
Lol, well, at least I'm not the only one. Surprisingly, rogaines are quite similar to that (At least in California).
-Quickly make a route plan.
-Plan out where you're gonna eat/drink snacks or water.
-Everyone runs in all directions from an arena.
-People wear whacky uniforms.
-Get as many "checkpoints" as possible.
-The area where you can go gets smaller as time runs out.

-Following is common.
-Teaming is allowed.
And last but not least:
-You don't have to pick burrs, stickers, and thistles off of your shoes/gaiters.
Aug 14, 2018 1:02 AM # 
It depends on the audience.

What follows is a description for a sprint event aimed at runners:

You won't want to miss this twist on a typical race. It is a cross between an adventure run, a road race, and a trail run. It will be fun and challenging for everyone.

What is the twist?

First, there will be two overlapping 3K loops (A & B) for the 6K race. Half the runners will run loop A followed by loop B while the other half will run BA.

Second, the route will be unmarked. Instead there will be checkpoints to visit. The location of the checkpoints will be identified on a map given to you at the start. You decide the fastest route between the checkpoints.
Here is a response from a runner that is pretty typical "looks like great fun, and clever!"
Aug 14, 2018 2:16 AM # 
If they are willing to watch a 3 and a half minute video, show them the New York Times "Running Wild" on YouTube.

The point of video is to explain orienteering to those who know nothing about it.
Aug 14, 2018 2:48 AM # 
Running with navigation; no chalk line -- or person in front of you -- to follow; you use a map.
Aug 14, 2018 3:03 AM # 
what about this:
Navigating through unfamiliar terrain with a map and compass.
Aug 14, 2018 3:04 AM # 
I love Rex long write up from before, but don't like the part of coming in the middle;)
In a world that is lost, these people have found a way. They like to lead, but shun being followed. And they won't follow directions. The map tells them all they need to know. It's not reaching the endpoint that matters to them - it's how they got there. Because they are typically not seen, they must become legends in their own minds. And with electronic timing, one can take pride in having the fastest time on one of the legs of a course. Despite finishing in the middle of the pack. Orienteering. Eventually coming to your neck of the woods. When they run out of other places to map.
Aug 14, 2018 3:07 AM # 
When ever i mention orienteering, many people think it is i need a strong explanation ...
I want them to know it is a race - everyone is racing to their ability with themselves and time.
Aug 14, 2018 7:35 PM # 
Check out some of the descriptions of past DVOA Facebook events (2015-2017). Like October 9, 2016 at Antietam Lake for inspiration. I used a similar template for most events, changing it sometimes.

I'd avoid too many metaphors or comparisons, keep it short w/ 'more details below', avoid confusing words like 'control', describe it as an adventure and mention there are different skill levels and speeds. People will come to try something new and some will decide to get competitive. Don't forget that while we love the competition it's a great weekend option for parents w/ small kids.

Replacing 'orienteering' with 'Navigation Race' or 'Navigation Adventure' or 'Map XXX' is fine.. just mention orienteering somewhere.

Good luck :)
Aug 15, 2018 9:24 PM # 
Cunning running.

Running for those that need enjoy a mental and physical challenge.
Aug 16, 2018 2:34 PM # 
I think you'll get more interest from your listeners if you focus less on the details of an orienteering event and more on what orienteers do, and why YOU find it challenging. For example:

Orienteering is the art of finding your way through the forest (or across the landscape, if you want to be generic) as efficiently as you can, using a highly-detailed map and clues from the terrain around you to keep yourself from getting lost. "Staying oriented" with where you are on the map is why they call it orienteering. When I first started out, I stuck to the trails and used big features like hilltops and stream crossings to navigate, but as I got more experienced, I found I could go a lot faster by taking shortcuts through the woods, following old walls, jumping across streams, and reading the subtle dips and curves in the terrain. The course changes every time, so you're constantly challenged by new landscapes to traverse. It's probably the second most fun thing you can do while wearing pajamas.
Aug 18, 2018 1:53 AM # 
From one of the preview maps posted at NAOC packet pickup:

You have brains in your head
You have feet in your shoes
You can steer yourself in any direction you choose
You're on your own
And you know what you know
You are the guy who'll decide where to go

From "Oh the places you'll go!" - Dr. Seuss

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