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Attackpoint - performance and training tools for orienteering athletes

Discussion: Scout-O

in: Orienteering; General

Apr 14, 2019 4:35 PM # 
Boys Life Magazine did a feature on orienteering after attending the Scout-O Orienteering Cincinnati did in conjunction with the Dan Beard Council’s Blue Jacket District.

A Scout-O is a great way to help educate youth, promote your club and generate some revenue.
Apr 15, 2019 10:23 PM # 
this is yet another article from Boy Scouts with the only skill being taught is bearing and pace count ..... when will they ever get terrain association ?
Apr 15, 2019 11:44 PM # 
No wait, #6 is about orienting the map.... try to do it the way they describe and see what you think.
Apr 15, 2019 11:52 PM # 
Why does the article switch from feet and inches (#7) to meters (#8)? Isn't that just confusing to everyone? It's much easier explaining the scale in meters/metres (e.g. at 1:15,000, 1cm = 150m on the ground).
Apr 16, 2019 12:27 AM # 
But you need inches because snakes are measured in inches. See Joke of the day, if its still there.
Apr 16, 2019 12:38 AM # 
I looked up Joke of the Day with Google and found one about an army veteran. I presume yours is somewhere else.
Apr 16, 2019 1:38 AM # 
Both #4 and #6 are the type of explanations that get people thinking that they won't be able to read maps. The process of orienting a map with a compass can be so straight forward when one leaves out the numbers and the bezel, even a preschooler can do it.
Apr 16, 2019 2:22 AM # 
I always turn my compass 360 degrees when trying to find north.
Apr 16, 2019 2:36 AM # 
The actual event was run by orienteers, and had most of the emphasis on the map and real courses.

The Boy's Life photographer and writers chose what to include in the article. We proofed it and made many suggestions (among them to do the scales in meters), but that was one suggestion that they chose to ignore. I think they did that because scouts more frequently use USGS maps for their hiking. backpacking, canoe, etc trips (which are at 1:24,000 or 1:62,500), instead of actually doing orienteering. Because Boy's Life is the official scout magazine, they chose to focus on specific skills in the scouting requirements and merit badge handbook. And the article fits their style: lots of pictures of kids, eye-catching graphics, limited amount of text.

And believe me, although it includes way too much compass stuff, it is a vast improvement over what they would have run without our efforts to guide the content.

In a couple of the photos, if you zoom in, you see that the map does not have a course, but rather some large letters and numbers along the side pointing to various places in the camp. This was the locator map that every scout got on arrival, and showed the locations of each of their different stations / activities, which included different orienteering skills. They used this same map for many of those skill sessions including a "walk and talk" map hike for beginner track, and a contouring activity and ARDF (radio direction-finding) for kids in the more experienced track.

After these skill sessions, the scouts did regular courses during the afternoon (multiple courses if they had time and desire) and a night score-O. Sunday morning was the Scout-O champs, with each scout going individually on a course level assigned by their age.

The main point is that we got some excellent publicity in the national scouting magazine, that goes to pretty much every boy scout in the country. And for doing a program that taught real orienteering and actually had a solo competition (something that took some extra organization and surveillance throughout the camp in order to satisfy scout youth protection requirements).
Apr 16, 2019 2:56 AM # 
Between items 7 and 8, look closely at the map in that photo - you'll see it has only contours, plus a few vehicle tracks and major buildings - no vegetation or point features - this was a contour-only skill station for more experienced scouts. And notice the ISCD control descriptions - no plain text here!

All the photos in the article were taken at the actual event, except the generic control flag in section 1 - all of ours have blue stripes.

In the third paragraph in section 2, they actually mention the solo competition. A pleasant surprise, as we were told that they probably wouldn't say anything about going solo, since the scouts generally don't allow solo activity.

The compasses seen in sections 2, 3, and 5 must be ones that those particular scouts or troops brought with them - our compass skills station had a selection of thumb compasses and clear baseplate models.
Apr 16, 2019 2:59 AM # 
Who let them wear jeans and hoodies on an O course? That's so unfashionable for orienteering.
Apr 16, 2019 4:49 AM # 
The Cincinnati's club Scout-O is so well done, we copied it with only some minor changes for our club's Scout-O in Louisville. I agree the Boy's Life article is a little misleading about what happened on the ground at the event. Greg and the team do a great job with this event. The smiling faces when the kids finish the courses make it well worth it.
Apr 16, 2019 5:40 AM # 
Well done O Cincinatti, and everyone else who responds to requests to provide an orienteering activity for a community group. Its certainly a double-edged sword, knowing that the community leaders will have different objectives, and any publications and media involved will trot out well-known stereotypes. Success is measured by whether participants found some checkpoints using a map - and setting an achievable task is important for that. I don't usually go anywhere near compasses and scales.

tRicky try the Boyslife link.
Apr 16, 2019 12:00 PM # 
Thanks for the detailed response Mike and for pointing out one of the larger purposes of the event which is to get kids doing actual orienteering and the fact that Orienteering got promoted.

I think we all know what a great sport O is and the many benefits it provides. However, building awareness is and continues to be a struggle. While the article fails to capture many of the benefits of O it does help increase awareness on a national scale and I am very grateful to the folks at BSA for publicizing the event.

I modeled the NEOC Scout-O and it’s great to see OLOU leverage what we are doing. It would be great if Scout-O was a term known and understood by Scouts a,d Scout Leaders across the country as a result of attending one. This could do much toward building a better understanding of what orienteering is really all about and how to do it.
Apr 16, 2019 12:16 PM # 
If you’re interested in reading more about building a Scout-O visit the following link

Then select follow the link in “Best Practices: Build a Better Scout O Event” which is the word “here” as a hyperlink. You then must
- select the “Best Practices” folder
- select the “Scouting” folder

The article will then show in a list with the resources we use for the event. Activity plans are included and we will happily provide support to any club that would like to pursue a Scout-O.
Apr 16, 2019 1:53 PM # 
I've long wondered how many scouts who attend one of these scout-O events ever eventually become regular or even occasional orienteers. Had my scout troop ever experienced one I might have gotten the O bug a decade or more earlier than I eventually did. I was already interested in running, and was even occasionally competing in a rudimentary form of ARDF with my dad (driving in the car, maps optional and BYO).
Apr 16, 2019 2:25 PM # 
fossil and others: At the events I stage in Florida a lot of people coming out or just passing by say they had experience orienteering when they were in Scouts. I always cringe for them because unspoken I'm pretty sure their experience was a shitty one.
Bjorn Kjellstrom was a great man for sure but when he came to America and Canada we had lousy topo maps so he pushed his compasses and they helped us do some semblance of orienteering. And that became the way it was in Scouting for a gazillion years.
Scout orienteering has recently caught up to 21st century orienteering but that doesn't mean everyone who tries the sport will want to become an orienteer. Many are just in it for the badge requirement.
Folks think of all the sports you have tried in school, socially or in other aspects of life. For me archery, bowling, curling, diving, ... well I could probably almost go right through the alphabet ... all those sports and few of them stuck with me.
I get hundreds of people through our orienteering events, probably over 1,000 this year alone (mostly JROTC) and few will stick with the club. Is that a problem for orienteering? No, the 'fossils' of the world will be back and from the others their entry fees help support Suncoast Orienteering as we upgrade equipment, donate to members going to national events, make maps etc.
Look for opportunities to give people that wonderful one-time experience and if nothing else they will grow your club's bank account.
If we want them back and back again we will have to learn to master that old Disney marketing technique: "Sell the sizzle; not the steak."
Apr 16, 2019 6:19 PM # 
Sir, I am a Life Scout and and a member of the JDT. I was not introduced to orienteering through scouts, but once I began involved I pushed hard for my troop to attend QOC meets (although they were still several hours away sometimes). I eventually hosted a very small troop orienteering event for World Orienteering Day in hopes of encouraging more interest. I have since moved and live in NM where orienteering is struggling to come back. My parents and others are trying to revitalize the club. My hope is to help build an event or eagle scout projecct that encourages all the local scout troops/packs, as well as JROTC teams and other juniors to grow the sport. I find that I have a hard time explaining what my sport is to traditional athletes. I also run XC and distance track for my high school, but I wish the BSA could build a team that could compete at some of the larger national or regional meets.
Apr 16, 2019 6:48 PM # 
I thought it was a good article. Please remember any positive publicity is good for the sport. This March we had 284 people attend our Scout Orienteering Festival in the pouring rain. We also put on an orienteering activity at the Girl Scouts of the Missouri Heartland spring family camporee where ~300 participants did our orienteering activity.
Apr 16, 2019 6:59 PM # 
For all those who do not like what they see being published I suggest you write some articles for them. Donna is always looking for material for ONA!!!
Apr 16, 2019 7:27 PM # 
Great article overall and appreciated the links and ideas posted in the responses here. I'm an Orienteering merit badge counselor in scouts and am about to do some training with some scouts soon so the article and resources are much appreciated as I get ready. Thanks!
Apr 17, 2019 3:46 PM # 
It's so encouraging to hear what's being done in other parts of the country with Scouts and Orienteering. I'd be interested in an offline discussion group to share ideas and information. We are always looking for ways to improve our event and to add activities so Scouts will have a reason to come back. If anyone wants to be part of a deeper dialogue please message me at

scoutsam thanks for providing a Scouts perspective. There are many among us that are happy to provide support for your parents in their quest to revitalize the local club. It's hard work but this sport is awesome and people are starting to figure it out. I mean, anyone can run for an hour, two, four but to run, think, plan, adapt and to be actually in nature. There's just no comparison. People will figure it out, we need to keep providing the opportunity and increase the awareness.
Apr 17, 2019 4:40 PM # 
Pink Socks:
I'm an Eagle Scout who was given orienteering merit badge before high school. I say "was given" and not "earned" because I didn't do any of the actual requirements. On my first 10-day backpacking trip to Philmont, NM, I volunteered to be the group's navigator, and we didn't get lost. Afterwards, the leaders said that it was the first time that the troop had not gotten lost, so they decided to give me the merit badge ad hoc.

Anyway, all this to say that I went through a career of scouting without realizing that orienteering as a sport existed. And since I've discovered orienteering as a sport, I've long been frustrated at the BSA's over-reliance on compass and pace-counting.

If Boys' Life were to write an article about basketball, it would be "9 Things To Know About Shooting Free Throws" and at least two of the things would be about launch angles and velocity. I mean, basketball is ultimately about putting the ball through a hoop, and shooting free throws is specifically about putting the ball through a hoop, but the sport is way more exciting than that and has a lot more to offer.

And hey, I get it. There's no such thing as bad publicity. OCIN puts on well-organized events. I'm sure it was a success. The pictures look great, and we're fortunate that OCIN provided some input on the text. And it'll be in the hands of a lot of kids, some of whom might come out to an orienteering event.

Just like some kids would read that hypothetical article about basketball and think, "Oh hey, shooting free throws sounds fun!" But I suspect that more kids would find an article about the more exciting parts of the sport more inspiring.

On a related note, the online version of the article has zero comments. But another Boys' Life article about Fortnite that also mentions orienteering has 37!
Apr 17, 2019 4:42 PM # 
Pink Socks:
(Feel free to call me a bitter old man, since I missed out on 8 years of real orienteering in my youth because of this :-)
Apr 17, 2019 4:52 PM # 
Selected comments on the Fortnite article ("five merit badge skills that'll help you win at Fortnite"):

Take away orienteering, and put in definitely gun usage.
I think we forgot a vital one: Shooting Sports, Or riflery or shotgun. I mean despite the obvious no of shooting people, it might help a little bit. I’d remove orienteering probably.

Apr 17, 2019 5:38 PM # 
Being a member of RMOC and also being the OUSA National Liaison to the BSA, I, along with my committee, have worked tirelessly to improve the orienteering experience for scouting. Indeed, we have put together a week long course at Philmont, run by club orienteers (from NTOA). We have also constantly updated the Orienteering MB book and even gotten a signed Memorandum of Mutual Support agreement with BSA.

The point being is that many changes to the way that orienteering is taught and experienced within scouting have been attempted, with some success. I am very proud of the clubs in our country that have worked so hard to host scout orienteering events (NEOOC, OCIN, NTOA DVOA, QOC, CVOC among others). Also, many of our clubs have had significant outreach to JROTC, CAP and other groups to get them involved in orienteering.

All that being said, I am thankful that none of those groups read Attack Point, because if I read it as a newly minted orienteer, I would quit the sport. The constant critique of every scouting event or article reeks of elitism. We need to welcome and encourage new people to the sport, rather than deride them for their lack of purity. While I think it is important to improve the quality of competition within the sport, I also hope that we realize that we were once newbies ourselves and had to perfect our craft over time.

I reviewed the article and would give it a B+ and give appreciation to OCIN for doing everything to see that we get more publicity in both Boys Life and Scouting magazine. Remember that orienteering is only one of many programs that the BSA offers. Be constructive so we get even MORE articles!

Please encourage your clubs to offer more of these events. It may be a scout's only opportunity to experience real orienteering. So, please be positive and supportive. We are trying to create new orienteers who have as much passion for the sport as you have.

Finally, we will have orienteering at the upcoming World Scout Jamboree, which will be held near Beckley, WV from July 22 to August 2. It will be attended by 45-50,000 scouts and scouters from 160 countries. We are working to make it a great experience in the hope that they will take it back to their home countries and begin participating in orienteering no matter where they live.

Thanks for your passion for orienteering. Find the right place to place your energies so that the next generation to take the trail may be inspired to take up the sport along side. After all, if you are the only competitor in your class and no one is coming up behind you, orienteering will be no more. Finding the Way, Brian
Apr 18, 2019 3:00 AM # 
On a related note, the online version of the article has zero comments. But another Boys' Life article about Fortnite that also mentions orienteering has 37!

There's now one comment on the orienteering article and I can understand it, unlike any of the comments on the Fortnite article, many of which are either gibberish or poorly written. Orienteering is therefore declared the winner in the thinking sports game.
Apr 19, 2019 12:26 PM # 
Scoutsam I was interested to read above about your family's efforts to get orienteering going in Albuquerque.
I can tell you from first hand experience that there is tremendous personal satisfaction in planting the seed and and nurturing the growth of orienteering in an area and among a crowd where there was little or no orienteering before.
So I can offer you advice - Attack Pointers are good at that - but also a little bit more.
Advice: Make a map and schedule an event. Fire off invitations to everyone you would like to have attend plus more. Invite the papers and the local TV then invite them again. Get a catchy headline such as ABQ Teen Bringing World Class Sport to edge of Albuquerque. Also get people there by asking them to help.
The area and map? Have you a park in mind? I'd suggest the area at the end of Simms Park Road is as good as it gets for a starter area - lots of trails, rolling open terrain and enough bush. It looks a lot like the open areas of Vasquez Rocks Park in LA County. I have a base map of the Simms Park area ready for you if you can tell me what format you would like. The UNM campus is another area that is base map ready.
To get scout groups and school groups ( include homeschoolers) to come to you be prepared to go to them first. Make up a slide show like this one or a youtube video to explain the sport and give them a taste of the fun and challenge they can be getting at your event. Feel free to use this or any of my other slide shows there if they can help you.
I have found that the more mystery we can take out of a group's first visit the better that visit will go. It is also very important to make the group leaders very comfortable about where they are taking their group.
Once that first event is finished get the results posted and an article to the local paper. They say people don't read papers anymore but they do even if it is the on-line edition and they particularly read if their name is in it. Then that is very likely to bring them back.
Apr 19, 2019 6:38 PM # 
Well, kudos to DVOA and their 1992 Scout-O. Someone stopped to talk to cmpbllj after he won the Orange, found out he was going to West Point in a few months, and mentioned USMA OC. 27 years later, he's a few days out from going out to do a final round of vetting for this year and start map updates for next year. Apparently those few moments of time were a good investment.

So, don't underestimate the power of those small conversations, even at a Scout-O that may involve some different activities than we do at a regular local event (anyone want to measure to height of a particularly distinctive tree while completing a 1-mile O course?). Scouting is a character-building program, and I'd welcome any scout to become more involved in O. I'm really enjoying working with the scouts in our town, and I hope that we'll inspire some to explore beyond the requirements of rank and merit badges.
Apr 19, 2019 6:52 PM # 
I also came into orienteering via Scout-O. Thanks to QOC and Dave Linthicum for their annual event.
Apr 19, 2019 7:42 PM # 
As obscure a connection as it might seem, I first head the term orienteering from my brother's activities at Scout camp in the 1960s/70s. Years later (1990) I saw the 3-2-1 Contact! (PBS science show for kids) episode on orienteering organized by Ed Hicks, and followed up, finding my local club. We're still here, and I think making folks aware that there's a sports activity called orienteering is definitely worth any effort.
Apr 19, 2019 9:29 PM # 
@ken: without Scout-O, Attackpoint wouldn't exist.
Apr 19, 2019 10:06 PM # 
I also came through scouts, but first via the possibly even more unusual pathway of middle school. We did some little units in gym class about less common sports, and spent one or two days on orienteering. I don't even remember what we did, exactly, but I'm sure it was more compass bearing and pace oriented. It was enough to get me interested in working on the GS badge, which led us to DVOA through orienteer and scout Linda Eck, bringing both myself and my mother into the sport.
Apr 20, 2019 1:00 AM # 
I wish the Boys Life Editor or writer would have actually tried a Orienteering course (My guess was they did not), The whole Article while a nice overview, was a bit boorish, even with OCIN Mike's and others editing errors. Two Thoughts, There should have been a reason for leaders to want there - "Scouts" to learn and do orienteering well. The other was to teach Scouts on how to learn about orienteering and to learn from small mistakes. I consistantly see older Scouts claim they 'know 'how to orienteer, and then they do a 180 degree error to control #1 (March 2019 in NJ small scout train ing exercise). there is much to learn. But that said, hopefully the Scouts may read and get more interested in O sport. I challenge the upcoming Scout O meet directors to Ask if the Scouts (or leaders) attending ... actually read the Boys Life ... Article, and how many are asking for O'ing event schedules from local USOF clubs.

I remind my Scouts/trainees do they want to learn a Life Skill? And then there was these 3 Girl Scouts at Quail Hill BSA camp that took 4th (of 10) place on White course one year (told me later they stopped to 'Skip Stones' for 3 or more minutes at Quails,NJ small lake), And then they came back in 2003 say, and placed 1st of 12 teams, beating all Boy Scouts and proudly stating to me at the results table, "To Win a Scout O team Has to RUN" . Enuf said.
Feb 19, 2020 4:32 AM # 
A sad ending of the story:

Facing 100s Of Sex-Abuse Lawsuits, Boy Scouts Of America Goes Chapter 11
Feb 19, 2020 5:08 AM # 

And when Raven spoke with Little Bear, he explained the way of the winter. Of how they had to dig caverns into the ground to escape the dangerous ice maidens. Of how the whirling lockhearts would snatch up any investment opportunity indicating an inverted yield curve.

This scared Little Bear. He started to dig until he reached the home of the pilot elves. They took Little Bear in and taught him the ways of life 300 meters below the surface. They taught him to be a fighter, to eat only the best chestnuts. And after his training Little Bear went back to Raven and said: "No puc parlar. Estic afonic."
Feb 19, 2020 12:56 PM # 
This won't be the end of Scouting USA. It's legal maneuvering on the part of their lawyers in an attempt to shield their substantial real estate holdings from the lawsuit settlements.
Feb 19, 2020 4:43 PM # 
Also, all of the local councils are separate legal and financial entities. So in terms of dealing with councils or using camp properties, for now at least, it is business as usual...
Feb 19, 2020 5:32 PM # 
Well according to the Washington Post....

.....A key question will be whether the Scouts will be able to protect the assets of the local councils, which own camps and properties in prime real estate across the country [and abroad]. The local councils hold 70 percent of the Boy Scouts’ wealth.....

Growing up in San Francisco in the 1950's, I spent a week each summer at Camp Pomponio, above Palo Alto in the rugged Coastal Range with my troop of Scouts. The Camp was given to the Scouts in 1948 by a wealthy local dowager, and sold to the county 15 years later...just long enough for us to collect many pleasant teen-age summer memories!

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