Orienteering: Finding and mapping your course

  • Posted: Sunday, March 10, 2013 1:01 a.m.
    UPDATED: Monday, March 11, 2013 6:26 a.m.

SALISBURY — A new craze has taken hold in Charlotte and throughout the South — orienteering. It is the skill of charting and finding your way by use of a compass and map. This outdoor activity began in 1919 by a Swiss Scout leader who believed that the activity was not simply a survival skill, but a fun event for scouts and families.

In 1961, the International Orienteering Federation was formed and in 1971 the United States Orienteering Federation became a reality. Orienteering has been a long-time competition in the Olympics but until recently was only talked about in circles of Boy and Girl Scouts. The public library has always been the go-to-resource for finding your way with information, and this skill of orienteering is no different.


The Scout Merit Badge Series: “Orienteering,” published by the Boy Scouts of America, would be the first resource to investigate. This booklet describes the fun in learning to use a compass and a map. It sounds so basic, but the truth is that explorers like Lewis and Clark, Marco Polo and Amelia Earhart used these same skills to cross many new horizons. Today, competitions for orienteers are growing in number at Scout camps and merit badge outings, but also local programs for families and teams of friends. This book presents two types of orienteering — score orienteering and cross country orienteering. The latter event is like the television show “The Amazing Race,” finding one’s way around the countryside unassisted. After reading this text we might leave the GPS device at home and participate in the skill that will keep us from getting lost in the world.

A second book to investigate is “Be Expert with Map and Compass: the Complete Orienteering Handbook” written by Bjorn Kjellstrom. Being oriented to one’s surroundings and charting a course through the unknown sounds like a true skill for life. Orienting skills are used by surveyors, engineers, military personnel, hunters and fishermen, backpackers, sailors and camp counselors searching for “lost sheep”; cross-country runners and cyclists who chose their routes as opposed to following a predetermined course. For most of us, orienteering skills solely embrace our ability to read a road map in preparation for a family vacation. This text is broken up into user friendly chapters beginning with map reading, compass skills and then the adventure of putting them together in the field.

A third resource to consider is titled “Orienteering: The Skills of the Game” by Carol McNeill. For those who are competitively minded, this book will help to refine your skills. From experienced guides to young explorers, this book will help you enjoy your time in the field. Skills covered include: aiming off, punch and run, and running on the compass needle. Speed is the main point in this text so that you can increase the odds that your team will come in first place.

Getting oriented is indeed a life skill that enables us to select a course, map out our path, and check our progress along the way. We all look for help when “orienting ourselves” in a new direction such as times of a career change, education or finding a job. We map out our career path and obstacles that might challenge our charted path. As an avid sailor I would not be able to sail the lakes, rivers and waterways of North Carolina unless I had and followed an accurate map. Such maps keep me safe, as well as those who travel with me. The same holds true for planes, trains and automobiles.

Remember that life happens along the journey and not simply at the end of the road. Our lives are better enriched as we become oriented to our surroundings. This process can begin with a single trip to the public library. We simply need to know which direction we wish to discover. Happy reading.

Computer classes: Find it online at RPL — March 18, 7 p.m., South; March 19, 1 p.m., East (registration required, call 704-216-7841); March 21, 9:30 a.m., Headquarters. Your library card gives you access to some great online tools. From magazines and newspaper articles, legal forms and language learning, to test prep and auto repair, find it online and free courtesy of RPL. Classes are free. Sessions are about 90 minutes. Class size is limited and on a first come, first serve basis. Dates and times are subject to change without notice.

Children’s Storytime: Weekly through April 26. For more information. call 704-216-8234.

Headquarters — Tuesdays, 10:30 a.m., Toddler Time (18- to 35-month-olds); Wednesday, 11 a.m., Baby Time (6- to 23-month-olds); Thursday, 10:30 a.m., Preschool Time (3- to 5-year-olds); Thursday, 4 p.m., Noodlehead (4- to 8-years-olds.)

South — Monday, 4 p.m., Noodlehead; Tuesday, 10:30 a.m., Baby Time; 1:30 p.m., Preschool Time; Wednesday, 10:30 a.m., Toddler Time.

East — Monday, 10 a.m., Baby Time; Monday, 11 a.m., Toddler Time; Wednesday, 10:30 a.m., Preschool Time.

Children’s art in the afternoon: Headquarters, Thursdays, 4:30 p.m., grades kindergarten-five. Join Miss Jennifer to learn basic art techniques such as printing, sculpting and painting using various art mediums. Call 704-216-8234 for more information.

Book Chats for Children: South (only), March 21, 4:15 p.m., “Poppy” by Avi, grades 4-5. Children in grades 2-5 (different grade each month) are invited to participate. Registration is required and space is limited. Please call 704-216-7728 for more information.

Aging in Place workshop: Headquarters, March 14, 3 p.m., Jo Kerns, licensed senior transition specialist, will cover topics such as reorganizing closets and cupboards, sorting attic and other storage areas, and rearranging furniture. Admission free; no reservation required. Co-sponsored by Smart Choice Senior Transitions.

Teens tech week: All 5:30-7 p.m. South, Tuesday; East, March 25; headquarters, March 26. Check in at the library and explore digital devices such as Kindles, Nooks and iPads with iPlay: Exploring Digital Devices. Open to all middle and high school students. For more information call 704-216-8234.

PAC Club: Headquarters, March 16, 1 p.m. Calling all sports fans, athletes or those who like to read about sports. The PAC Club will celebrate Matt Christopher and his sports books with activities and crafts for school-aged kids. Call 704-216-8234 for more information.

Classic chick film festival: Headquarters, March 21, 6:30 p.m., Stanback Auditorium. Come and be entertained with the women you love, and let us spoil you. We begin the evening with light refreshments, followed by a series of short films. In between films, we’ll show commercials from the 1950s and 1960s. We’ll also be pampering you with foot soaks, facials and more. Admission is free, but space is limited. Ensure your spot today by registering online (www.rowanpubliclibrary.org) or by calling 704-216-8229.

Book Bites Club: South (only), March 26, 6:30 p.m., “Winter Garden” by Kristin Hannah. Book discussion groups for adults and children meet the last Tuesday of each month. The group is open to the public and anyone is free to join at any time. There is a discussion of the book, as well as light refreshments at each meeting. For more information, please call 704-216-8229.

Displays for February: headquarters, log cabins by North Hills Christian School; South, pen and jewelry by Fred Lorenzo; East, stamping by Glenda Trexler.

Literacy: Call the Rowan County Literacy Council at 704-216-8266 for more information on teaching or receiving literacy tutoring for English speakers or for those for whom English is a second language.

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