Ditch the Smartphone for a Compass during National Orienteering Week

By Sproul, Suzanne | Pasadena Star-News, September 16, 2015 | Go to article overview

Ditch the Smartphone for a Compass during National Orienteering Week


Sproul, Suzanne, Pasadena Star-News


Google Maps, MapQuest and even Waze won't help here.

The Los Angeles Orienteering Club is inviting the brave - or at least those willing to put their smartphones away for a day - to take on its several courses at Lake Balboa in Van Nuys on Sunday to celebrate National Orienteering Week, which stresses the importance of navigational skills using only a map and compass.

The idea of orienteering, which is considered recreation for some and a sport for others, is to navigate a course by hiking or running to find one's way through trees and fields. Depending on one's skill level, the goal is to either record a great time or simply find as many controls as possible and complete the course. Key elements are the ability to read a map, navigate with a compass and choose the right route.

The Los Angeles Orienteering Club, which had its first event in Griffith Park in 1979, welcomes beginners and veterans to its upcoming event.

"The best way I can describe orienteering is it's 'The Amazing Race,' plus a 5 kilometer run, plus a day in the woods," said Glen Schorr, executive director of the nonprofit Orienteering USA. "What you want to do is to complete the course as fast as you can without mistakes."

Orienteering began with the Swedish military and is a popular activity with scouts. In Europe, it's extremely competitive with individuals running the course instead of leisurely walking it. Courses are graded by their challenge to navigation skills.

"There are multiple levels of courses, so beginners stay on trails and experts are almost entirely off-trail, with a few levels of progression in between," said Clare Durand, an Orienteering USA member from Lancaster and local event coordinator.

Durand, a former Girl Scout troop leader when she lived in Sherman Oaks, calls the sport fun "for anyone who enjoys an outdoor challenge. …

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