Troops 260 & 262 – Orienteering 101

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Declination, index line, direction of travel arrow, orienting lines — all of these terms refer to the parts of a compass. A compass is an important tool for an outdoor adventure. It helps you stay on course, arrive at your destination, or make your way home.

Troops 260 & 262’s adventures are often oriented to learning new skills and always lead to a fun time. The troop’s most recent adventure, in March, brought them to White Memorial Conservation in Litchfield, Conn. for an orienteering course.

The adventure started on a frosty, 35-degree winter day, with a few inches of fresh snowfall. As the scouts set up dining flys and tents, the trees dropped snowballs upon them. (Yes, it was a bit comical!) Once camp was set up the scouts received a lesson from their scoutmasters about how to orienteer. The scouts learned how to orient their map, find a bearing, measure the distance between two points, and calibrate their pace. The scouts studied their maps and learned to identify bodies of water, wetland areas, hills, boulders and trails. A compass and a map will never fail you on the trail.

Armed with their compasses, a map, and a positive mindset, the scouts embarked on the Five Ponds orienteering course. They divided into small teams, and each went different directions on the trail, depending on if they chose the long or medium course. The snowfall made the hike a bit more challenging, but the extra exertion helped keep them warm. The course led the scouts on and off the trail in search of an often, obscure 5” x 7” red & white rectangular control point mounted to a tree.

In addition to fine tuning their orienteering skills, the scouts were able to test their toughness and fortitude by camping in fresh snow. At the end of each meeting the scoutmasters always ask the scouts, “Are you prepared?” to which the Scouts answer, “Yes, we are prepared.” They got to prove that motto this weekend by having adequate clothing layers, warm boots, waterproof shells, gloves and a winter hat. By being prepared, the kids were able to enjoy the beautiful views, learn new skills and be prideful of their achievements.

Here is a scout challenge for you now! Starting on the sidewalk in front of the northwest corner of Second Baptist Church along Main Street, walk to a point 950 meters away at a bearing of 207°. What is your destination? (Hint it is a landmark.)

Photo by Stacey Coleman Troop 260 Senior Patrol Leader Ethan Coleman leads his patrol through the orienteering course.

Share your answers with us on our Facebook page, Troops 260 / 262 Suffield Scouts.

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