Orienteering Scavenger Hunt
An orienteering scavenger hunt requires some setup, but it is a fun way to introduce Webelos and Scouts BSA to compass skills.
You can just set up one course and have them all do it together, or you can set up two or three courses and split them into groups. The courses don’t have to be long. Three points make a fine course. If you have different teams, use different colors of paper to designate which clues are for which teams.
How to Run an Orienteering Scavenger Hunt
- Small pieces of paper
- one treasure for each person
Set up an orienteering course. Set it up in an area where you can see the whole course, so that you can keep an eye on all of the teams.
For beginners, the easiest way is to have a starting point and then find a landmark (tree, telephone post, rock, etc). Find the direction of the landmark and write a clue down. You can make the clue specific:
“Go on a heading of 135 degrees to the large tree”
or make the clue more puzzle-like
“I stand tall above all others and I wear a leafy crown. Find me at a heading of 135 degrees”
You can give paces instead; although you will have to have them determine their pace length since the length of their strides will vary a lot from one child to another. Using paces might be better for those already familiar with a compass and have a little orienteering experience.
Leave your first clue at the starting point. Then go to the place you described in the clue and look around for your next destination. Write a clue for that destination; leave it where you are standing and move on to continue writing clues.
If you have multiple teams, have them all end up in the same place. Leave the “treasure” there for them to find. This can be something like a little piece of candy, a pencil, a coin, etc.
- Explain the boundaries of the scavenger hunt. They should understand that they are not supposed to cross a street, go into people’s yards, etc.
- Go to the starting point and give the group their first clue. Give each group at least one compass and let them familiarize themselves with it. (Groups should be at least two Scouts, but can be more.)
- If you haven’t done so already, give them instructions on how to use the compass.
- If they head off in the wrong direction, let them go as long as they are staying in the boundaries. They will figure it out eventually, so give them time. Only give help if they really don’t understand how to use the compass.
- They should all end up at the destination where the treasure is.
Finding Your Way is one of the Wolf Cub Scout elective adventures. For the Finding Your Way adventure, Wolves learn map and compass skills.
Scouts BSA working on their Second Class rank must learn how to use a map and compass. An orienteering scavenger hunt would be a fun way to practice those skills.
Scouts learn to navigate with a map and compass while working on the this merit badge. They investigate what the various symbols and markings on a map represent. And they get to participate in orienteering events.
To earn the Land Navigation core requirement for the Venturing Ranger award, Venturers must learn and practice map and compass skills and then teach those skills to others. An orienteering scavenger hunt is one way to do that.
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