Friday, April 17, 2009

The newfound joy of Orienteering

A compass and a map are like Tornado Boy's favorite begins the sport of Orienteering into our lives. I know that we enjoy geocaching - but it isn't "exciting" enough for our little guy so a friend told me about Orienteering. Let's just say Tornado Boy fell in love with it hook, line and sinker! We found a group that is about an hour away and they host a monthly Orienteering outing at different locations around the central part of the state. They offer all kinds of levels and certificates for the kids for completing a course. So last weekend, we decided to jump in head first and see what all the fuss was about. This group had a permanent course set up in a beautiful county park and we decided to tackle it before trying a group meet.

For those who don't know what Orienteering is about - basically you get a topographical map, a compass and you have to find your way from one "control" or marker to another until you find all of them and complete the course. So you are wandering deep into woods and forested areas trying to find the best route from marker to marker by reading the topo map. You learn what all the sections of the topographical map mean - higher areas/wooded areas/scrub areas/water.....and people compete all across the country to see who can complete courses the fastest. So the main get lost in the woods and find your way from checkpoint to checkpoint to learn how not to get lost in the woods.

My little guy was totally engrossed in this whole event and we had an absolute blast wandering through beautiful wooded areas. He was really, really good at finding his way on the map and locating the markers. We finished the course in 58 minutes and will be going back next weekend to complete the advanced course and then in May they have a large meet at another park that we hope to join.

While we were out wandering we came across the most unreal animals! We heard tons of birds, saw a rare fox squirrel, watched a "shnafalo" (armadillo) sniffle his way around, and then the best part of all - Tornado Boy was at a marker and looked up and thought he saw a bird but then figured out it wasn't a bird. It was this magnificent, giant owl way up in a tree. He was so pretty and just watched us as we putzed through the woods. When we showed the ranger a picture he said it was an immature barred owl and he was just as excited as we were and wanted to know where we spotted him so he could go look at him. I can't believe he was considered "immature" and that he was going to grow larger!

So for those families who love getting lost in the woods - you should see if you have any local Orienteering groups around your area - at least with my little tornado around I know I will never get lost in the woods!

1 comment:

  1. This sounds like great fun! Thanks for the tip, we will definitley be looking into it.