Orienteering Games for Kids

Updated June 13, 2017

According to the US Orienteering Federation, orienteering is the "sport of navigation with map and compass." It involves map reading, knowledge of compass usage and logical thinking skills. The sport can be played individually or with teams, and courses can be set up to suit all age and experience levels. Orienteering offers inexpensive recreational and fitness opportunities. These games can help children learn the fundamentals of the sport.

Learn the Compass

Each player needs a compass for this exercise. Prepare a series of checkpoints for players to visit by tying coloured flags to branches or making other markers, but be sure each checkpoint is not visible from the previous one. Make a sign for each checkpoint that tells the distance and direction to the next checkpoint. Begin by telling players how far and in what direction to look for the first checkpoint. Send players off in teams to find the checkpoints.

Large Letters

Use string or yarn and compasses for this activity. Each team will also need pencil and paper. Have each team write compass and distance directions whose trail forms a capital alphabet letter. For example, directions to make a letter "L" might be "Go north ten paces. Turn west and go five paces." Opposing teams try to follow the directions, unwinding the string behind them to draw the letter that has been mapped out for them.

Triangulating Treasure Hunt

Prepare for this game by hiding a treat in a spot where there are at least three large and visible landmarks. Notice the positions of the landmarks and the corresponding degrees on the compass and write a note to players. For example, "Find the treasure at a place where the Lone Pine Tree is at 30 degrees, the flagpole is at 120 degrees, and the fire tower is at 340 degrees." Allow players to race to find the correct spot.

Map a String Course

Use a long piece of ribbon or string, compasses, and markers for checkpoints. Each player will also need a map of the area and something to write with. Set up checkpoints and lay the string on the ground to form a path around to all of them. Players mark the route of the string and the location of each checkpoint on their maps.

Where Am I? Map Game

Supplies for this game include compasses and maps of the area for all players. Everyone also will need a pencil. Each player or team chooses an item within the map area but not already marked on the map, such as a specific tree, a rock or other landmark. Each player/team creates a set of directions using compass and distance information to go from the starting point to the secret item. Teams trade maps, then try to follow the directions and discover the secret item that the other team had in mind.

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About the Author

Sandy Fleming is a writer and educator from Michigan with master's and bachelor's degrees in special education. She has been writing for the Web for more than 10 years and does private tutoring with children and adults. Her areas of expertise include educational and parenting topics as well as how-to articles and informative pieces. Fleming writes for numerous Internet publications and the local newspaper.