Topic Orienteering activity.

How lost aren't you?


A map can be used to locate objects.

Maps can be used to find objects.

Objects are located relative to a known object.

Maps are drawn to scale.


Focus Questions

How can you use this map to find the places marked with numbers.


Map, compass, knowledge of how many paces represents 100 feet…


Map of Ponca State Park with stations marked. Station markers (plastic jug with sand or water so they don’t blow around). Whistle or air horn to sound time up.

Background Information


Orienteering began in Scandinavia in the nineteenth century.

In 1919, Ernst Killander created the modern version of orienteering in Sweden.

In the early thirties, the Kjellstrom brothers, Bjorn and Alvan, and their friend, Brunnar Tillander invented a more precise compass that was easier and faster to use. With this compass and their skill they were able to win several individual championships.

Bjorn Kjellstrom brought orienteering into the US in 1946.


Use the map and its reference objects with the following techniques:

  • Plan a route quickly, but carefully, as time is important.
  • Use a compass as little as possible.
  • Pacing – Use pacing (a 100-meter /feet… pace count equals _____) to keep track of the distance walked.
  • Use landmarks when possible. Landmarks - permanent features known as landmarks (stream junctions, bridges, and road intersections) that can be easily identified on the ground can be used as points of reference to find the way.
  • Use thumbing – Thumbing is simply using a map folded into a small size so that the present location on the map can be marked by putting the thumb beside it. Keep the thumb on that point on the map and walk from the marked point to the next position. After walking to the destination position a new point on the map can be found by looking at the map and using the thumb as a reference point for the last location. This technique saves time from looking all over the map for new locations.
  • Use handrails – Handrails are features (such as trails, fences, roads, and streams) that allow rapid movement on the ground by using those features to select a route and stay on course.

12 inches

1 foot

36 inches

1 yard

3 feet

1 yard

1 760 yards

1 mile statute

2 026.8 yards

1 mile nautical

5 280 feet

1 mile statute

6 080.4 feet

1 mile nautical

63 360 inches

1 mile statute

72 963 inches

1 mile nautical


  • Have students practice how to orient a compass to north and read the degrees.
  • Measure a distance of 50 or 100 meters / feet and mark the beginning and end.
  • Have students practice a steady pace and count how many steps they take to cover the distance.
  • When able to walk a steady pace walk the know distance and count the number of paces / steps.
  • Record the number of steps and repeat at least three times.
  • Use the data to find the mean number of paces that each student takes to cover so many feet or meters.
  • Review map reading.
  • Inform everyone of the orienteering activity. Orienteering is a game where each team is given a map with several locations marked.
  • Each team is to determine a route to take and move from station to station as quickly as they can.
  • When they arrive at a station they are to mark the station tag with their mark and move to the next.
  • When each team returns to the start their time is recorded.
  • Points are awarded for the number of stations visited and the faster times.

Dr. Robert Sweetland's Notes ©