Cincinnati Orienteering Leader Mike Minium Works With Schools

Two local orientation events are planned for New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. The New Year’s outing will be at Camp Timberhill on January 1 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

For the more experienced, there will be a New Year’s Eve class at Camp Timberhill, starting at 8 p.m. Pre-registration by email is encouraged. For more information, go online at and on the special events page at Customers can also email [email protected].

Q: Tell us about yourself? When did you start orienteering?

A: I grew up in the west part of Cincinnati, in the Western Hills area. I went to college in Miami and did graduate school in Indiana. After a few years of working in various places, I ended up in Oxford, where I obtained a teaching certificate. I started orienteering in 1985, shortly after leaving university. I’ve always been very interested in maps, I love the outdoors and getting out in the woods. I’m also a birdwatcher, so there were things I really loved about the outdoors, studying maps and finding my own way. I had read and heard that there was this sport called orienteering. I discovered Orienteering Cincinnati, which was newly formed at the time. It started a few years earlier. I fell in love with orienteering, and within about a year I was setting up courses for a competition at the club, and have been doing it ever since. I do a lot of orienteering programs for school groups, where I go to a school and do a day or two of classroom training. Then we will do a field experience either on the school grounds or in one of the parks. I coach the Orientation Team at Union County High School and Union County Middle School in Liberty, Ind. I have about 15 students involved there. Our team is currently the national high school champion. We won the national championship in Texas last spring and hope to compete again this spring in Massachusetts. They have a great program and I work with a great group of students.

Q: How long have you been coordinating New Year’s Orienteering races?

A: I’ve been coordinating New Year’s Eve events every year since we started doing it. We started in the 1990s. I don’t know what year, but it’s been at least 20 years… We’ve been at Camp Timberhill for eight years. I am also the coordinator of a national event organized each year by Orienteering Cincinnati, the Flying Pig Orienteering event. It’s actually two years older than the Flying Pig Marathon. This coming spring will be the 22nd year of this event. It will take place from April 6 to 8, 2018.

Q: How many events do you organize each year?

A: Orienteering Cincinnati is a regional orienteering club. There is another group in the Dayton area called the Miami Valley Orienteering Club. Orienteering Cincinnati hosts 30-35 events per year throughout the region. The Miami Valley Orienteering Club hosts about 10 other events a year.

Q: What is involved in setting up an orientation course?

A: The most complex and technical part of orienteering is producing the map we use. The maps are very detailed. They take a lot of effort to prepare a map, initially. We start with government information available from aerial photos. … There’s also new data called LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging), which is like aerial photography, but it’s done from an airplane with a laser. This is very accurate elevation data from both ground and vegetation. We combine this information to create maps that are more detailed than those typically available to the public.

Q: What do you enjoy about participating in orienteering?

A: I enjoy working with children and school groups, seeing kids, maybe from inner city who may not have a lot of experience in the woods. They step off the sidewalk and at first they are afraid of their own shadow. I get to watch them develop an appreciation for nature, begin to understand the map, and develop some confidence to find their own way. Then they realize that they’re not going to get eaten by the faun or the boogie man over there, and they’re going to accomplish this on their own. The biggest reward for me is watching the kids develop their confidence and skill level in the sport.

Q: Have you received any awards or accolades for orienteering?

A: I’ve been honored with a few United States Championship Awards. I have won several times in my age group at the United States Night Orienteering Championships. I received the Silva Award, which is Orienteering USA’s highest recognition for a volunteer. This award is given annually to an individual in recognition of volunteer service to the national organization and local and regional orienteering efforts. I don’t like to brag, but I’m proud of this one.

Contact this contributing writer at [email protected].


Overview: New Year’s Orienteering in Hamilton, page B1

Dino J. Dotson