Information for Young Orienteers
The best place to start learning about orienteering is through a nearby club. If there are no clubs near you, information on this website will get you started. Find out about training opportunities on our events page, which is for all juniors, not just those aiming to be named to the U.S. Team.
All youth interested in competing for championships in national level events must be active members of Orienteering USA. A student membership is inexpensive. This membership is only required to be eligible to receive championship awards (for an individual or a team at Interscholastic and Intercollegiate championships, for example). Regardless of championship eligibility, anyone can compete at national level events and all are welcome.
There are typically at least two training camps for junior orienteers organized annually in the U.S., one in the spring in the northeast (New York vicinity), and one in northern Texas in early June. Other training weekends are those hosted by BAOC, OCIN, UNO, and DVOA which include entire families as well as juniors. Check the Youth Programs page for information about upcoming training weekends, or individual clubs' websites.
Texas Junior Orienteering Camp is an orienteering camp for experienced young orienteers. Its goal is to field competitive junior orienteers from the Southwest who can compete and win at the national and international levels. The camp is a joint effort by the North Texas Orienteering Association (NTOA), Houston Orienteering Club (HOC), Ark-La-Tex Orienteering Society (ALTOS), Boy Scouts of America (BSA) and U.S. Army Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (JROTC).
Information for Youth Leaders
In order to develop strong orienteers with good navigation skills, Orienteering USA provides a number of resources to support those who coach, teach, and otherwise lead our youth.
A trainer's perspective
Read one scout trainer's account of teaching Boy Scouts at Nobscot State Reservation in Massachusetts in fall 2010.
Information for Club Leaders
We’ve been asked what clubs can do to support the junior development programs, and thought it would be useful to share the information more widely via this article. Here are 10 specific things that clubs could do:
- Create new weekly training opportunities, separate from local events/meets.
- Invite juniors to meet up at local meets at a specific time so that they can see each other. For example, you might encourage juniors to meet at 10:30, and warm up together for 10-15 minutes. After their races, they can do a cool-down run together, and then do a map review.
- Organize control pick-up games after local meets, where kids go out in teams. A team of mixed abilities gives the younger kids a chance to see what it’s like to move with speed and confidence in the woods. At a local event in Seattle, 10 kids in 5 groups of 2 picked up 60 controls in 24 minutes.
- Invite juniors to take leadership roles and give back to their club. For example, they might design courses, run registration, make calls for volunteers, or organize junior gatherings.
- Know which kids are on the Junior Development Team (JDT) and Junior Standing Team (JST), and ensure that they have local mentors, and the support they need to train and compete at a higher level. Recruit kids to the JDT. Stay in touch with Coach Erin Schirm and JTESC about promising juniors.
- Financial support for juniors: Pick one or two club meets a year and dedicate the net proceeds to the U.S. Junior Team. Involve local juniors in organizing and running the event.
- Develop new fun programs to draw in new kids. We have some ideas about how to do this — contact us!
- Apply for a grant from Orienteering USA to seed a local development program. We’re inviting Development Team members to make voluntary donations to Orienteering USA for this purpose. A few years from now, we’d like to see financially sustainable local programs, with paid staff, serving hundreds of kids learning to run, navigate and have fun in the woods.
- Hold an informational and planning meeting for local coaches.
- Appoint a point of contact to communicate with JTESC; attend our open call-in meetings (the first Monday of each month, March through June, 9pm Eastern = 6pm Pacific (1-213-342-3000, access code 135506)). Tell us what we can do to support you.
We’ve heard about some great new and existing local junior activities organized by clubs:
- NEOC has a subcommittee studying the possibility of collaborating with Adventure Racing Kids® and Golden Horseshoe Orienteering on a new Boston-area program.
- Gary Kraght of BAOC has started exploring a similar navigation/running program to bring in new kids.
- Cascade Orienteering Club’s WIOL school league has been going strong for decades. Coaches Rick and Eileen Breseman of COC are putting on Wednesday afternoon training, open to all ages; the focus is one part orienteering, one part physical training and a shared meal to follow.
- OCIN also organizes a school league in the southern Ohio area.
- CSU has a weekly training session year-round that includes a couple of juniors.
- WCOC is designing a weekend junior training camp. BAOC will include junior activities in this summer’s Sierra Fest.
- A committee of DVOA members is working on a new and exciting schedule for the DVOA juniors that includes training opportunities, social activities, group fundraisers and giving back to the club opportunities as well. They are planning activities in all parts of the very large geographic area covered by the club, to include as many of the juniors as possible.
- A number of JROTC and military academy teams hold regular practices during the week. This year (2013) at West Point, ten of the thirty USMAOC team members are juniors, and they practice four to five days a week.
this section last updated 18 April 2013