Orienteering at the Walkersville Watershed

What are those numbered posts for?

Some of you may have noticed the 4×4 numbered posts which are spread throughout the watershed area. These posts are designed to be part of a large orienteering project. With a small amount of effort, you can build an orienteering course of almost any size and with over 35 points, you can be assured that each course you build will be different from the last.

WARNING!  The orienteering posts at the watershed have been in place since 2009 and many are starting to break off. If you see this, please do NOT move, burn, or dispose of the post and please do not put a new post up without contacting us first. But please DO contact us and let us know a post is broken and what post number it is! Because these posts have been up so long, we periodically have to survey all of them to make sure they are all there and then replace some of them. The last time this was done was January 2, 2021. The next scheduled survey is March/April of 2024 with any replacement posts being installed in April/May 2024. The cautionary tale here is that you do not want to build a  map with posts missing. Please note that each time we do a survey, between new posts and cement alone it costs the Crew over $200 in materials, please consider a small donation. Thanks for your understanding.

How to build a course

First, go to the Map of the watershed with all the points of interest (posts) loaded on to it. You’ll want to use the drop down menu to change from the satellite view to Topo.

If you hover your cursor over each of the points, you will see the point’s GPS coordinates. Make note of the coordinate. Now go to the GPS Coordinate Calculator and enter in your first coordinate and then your second and it will tell you the direction (by compass) and feet from the first to second point. For example, Marker #1 is at 39.4812667, -77.2812000 and marker #36 is at 39.4813000, -77.2802667 and the calculator tells us that to get from marker #1 to marker #36 you need to go 263 feet east (at 87 degrees). Keep in mind, an good orienteering compass (thumb compass) has no degree markings on it so it’s important to orient your map each time you use it. By doing these simple calculations, you can then figure out exactly how long your orienteering course is to meet requirements. Keep in mind if you use the same map more than once, your scouts will just race from post to post, AND after your first course, they will start looking for posts and start remembering where they see them.

Repeat for your next point in the course.

There is also a list of posts without the map, it could make your life easier in making new maps.

A typical orienteering course had a starting point, up to 10 flags with punches and a finishing point. If you are interested, the Crew has a complete set of orienteering flags and punches, but you will need to buy your own orienteering scorecards. Of course, you can also buy the complete kit here, so your troop has all the items needed to complete the first class (4a) requirement anytime you need!

Remember, an orienteering course is not the same as a compass course.  Orienteering is a race against other competitors, or in the simple case against the clock.  To do this well the Scouts need to learn how to navigate with map and compass well enough to do it on their own.  Then they can do it as an orienteering course. Look at the example map below, while each map DOES have North denoted and a Scale (for distance), notice there are NO degrees, NO feet marked between flags, simply a circle around where the marker is located and number denoting the order in which the markers need to be punched on the card. These numbers are NOT the post numbers!

If you have any questions on this, please contact David Place at advisor@crew270.com