Orienteering is a sport where competitors use a map to find a series of checkpoints. There is no marked path, so participants can chose their own routes from one checkpoint to the next. This is often done in the forest, although it can also be done in parks, school campuses, city streets, or anywhere else with a usable map. There are several different formats for orienteering races which are explained in more depth here. While orienteering is done competitively, many people take part simply for the joy of being outside and exercising their brains. It’s a fun, healthy, and educational activity for all ages and experience levels!
Nope! For many people running is part of the thrill of the sport, and we love seeing kids run from checkpoint to checkpoint as fast as they can. Walking is just fine, too, and there are just as many orienteers who prefer a slower pace. Even orienteers in their 80s or 90s still get out in the woods once in a while, and there are plenty of courses which are less physically demanding as well.
You should wear something that's comfortable for athletic activity. If it's rainy or wet then you should also bring a change of clothes for afterwards. If the activity is in a city park then regular running shoes or sneakers will work great. If the activity is in a forested park then shoes with more tread are appropriate--trail running shoes if you're running, hiking boots if you're walking. Intermediate and advanced courses in forested parks will take you off-trail, so long pants are recommended.
You do not need a compass, but it is strongly recommended that you use one. While many races at Navigation Games are not very technically challenging, and someone with reasonable map experience can do just fine without, a compass remains the most accurate, effective, and reliable way to keep your map oriented. It is also a very important safety tool if you ever get lost. Compasses can almost always be borrowed at our events in case you do not have your own, but you are not required to run with one.
E-punch is timing system used for most orienteering events. Competitors are given an e-punch (also known as a "finger stick" or "SI card") at the beginning of the race, and at each control there is a small box with a hole in it. When you get to a control, put the e-punch in the hole and the box will flash and beep. This records on the e-punch what time you were at that specific control so that we can check to make sure you went to all the locations in the correct order when you get to the finish (if it is a point-to-point competition) and see your total time.
Animal-O is like orinteering's younger cousin. This actvity is usually meant for younger ages, but adullts and teens can join in too. Animal-O is usually set up in a compact space to make sure children don't get lost or roam out of sight of the adults. Cones are set up with pictures of animals on each, and children try to visit these cones in predetermined orders.