Orienteering with Student Ambassador Sarah

Every good adventurer knows that you can’t always rely on a GPS unit or your cellphone to help you navigate outdoors. Being able to use a compass and a map are important skills when outdoors, especially in the wilderness.

Buddy Bison Student Ambassador Sarah practiced her orienteering skills at a local New Jersey park last weekend. Orienteering is an outdoor activity where you use a compass and paper map to navigate to checkpoints, or “stops”,  hidden in a natural area. Sometimes people compete in orienteering competitions to see who can find all the stops the fastest! Read all about Sarah and Buddy Bison’s adventure below:

“This weekend I got to try orienteering at Estell Manor Park, which is a county park in Atlantic County, New Jersey.  I started off by learning about orienteering and how to use a compass.  If you are hiking in the wilderness, it is really helpful to know how to use a compass, since you might not be able to use your phone, and a compass never needs batteries.

I learned how to use the map and compass together to tell me which direction to go when I’m hiking. One interesting thing I learned is that there is a difference between the direction of the North Pole (Geographic or True North) and the “magnetic north” of the Earth. [A compass uses the Earth’s magnetic field to align with the point of “magnetic north”, which is in a different location than the geographic location of the North Pole. Learn more here.]  I also learned how to use the map scale to figure out how far I should be walking between each of the orienteering stops.

Once we learned how to use the compasses, we headed out on the trails.  Estell Manor Park has lots of great trails that go through the woods and some of the trails go by the Great Egg Harbor River. There are a few different orienteering trails to try here. Once we were out on the trail,  I used the compass and the map scale to find my way to the different stops on the orienteering map.  It was cold out and there was still snow on the ground, but I had a great time orienteering at Estell Manor Park.  I’m hoping to come back to this park again a try one of the other orienteering trails.”