Orientation course for beginners taking place at Gouverneur Dick this month

Governor Dick Park plans to host an introductory orienteering course hosted by the Delaware Valley Orienteering Association (DVOA) on Sunday, November 15.

The Beginner Orienteering course will start at 11:00 a.m. and participants will be able to learn the basics of navigating an orienteering course, whether just for fun or for competitive purposes.

Orienteering begins with walking or running through the woods while challenging yourself to choose a route and navigate to specific locations found on a map. Afterwards, orienteers usually share their adventures with others, including online results and route comparisons.

“Attendees will be introduced to reading an orientation map: these maps are much more detailed than any other map you are likely to have seen,” said Samuel Kolins, the event’s route planner. “In addition to basic information such as trails and elevation information, the map includes features such as rocks and tall downed trees, as well as special color coding to show different types of vegetation thickness in the woods After becoming familiar with the map, there will be a discussion of techniques for using the map to successfully navigate a course.

Kolins and DVOA Event Director Ava Suhocki will be in charge of the event and are responsible for creating the courses. This involves choosing the locations that participants will find and establishing the “controls” in the woods that mark each location.

After the beginners course, participants are encouraged to try a course. There are several course options to choose from, depending on skill level and experience.

  • White Course: This course allows participants to stay on the trails at all times. This level is best suited for young children, those who are not physically comfortable leaving a trail, or those who would not like to use a regular trail map.
  • Yellow Course: This course will have places to find nearby, but not on the trails. There may be an exception of a few times where it is encouraged to cut through the woods as a shortcut. This is a good course for most adult beginners who want to use a regular map.
  • Orange Course: This course is of an intermediate level of difficulty and will take participants away from the trail. It’s best for people who have some off-roading experience.

“There will be eight different courses at this event, the three listed above, and then five advanced courses of varying lengths for experienced orienteers, including one of our longest and most challenging courses of the year” , Kolins said. “There will be great opportunities to meet and talk with people who really love the sport.”

The cost to take a class is $12 per group of any size. A timing card and chip are also included. A compass can be borrowed if needed. Groups can receive additional cards for $2 each.

“This course is recommended for anyone who loves being outdoors in the woods and wants to experience Governor Dick Park,” Kolins said. “If you like maps or navigation, that’s also a plus. We have members who walk courses as families and members who run courses at full speed and competitively, so there is room for a very wide range of people in the sport. Orienteering is a great socially distanced activity – even more common than when hiking on a trail.

Masks will be required at check-in, class and at the end of all classes. Check-in will be at the pavilion at the north end of the car park. The event will take place rain or shine, barring extreme weather conditions. In the event of extreme conditions, the class will be moved inside the environmental center with social distancing measures.

All participants must register and pay in advance before the event. Additional instructions to help you navigate the registration system, particularly if attendees are registering a group, are available in this Google Slides presentation. More details can be found on the DVOA’s event page. Registration for the beginner course is available here.


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Dino J. Dotson