The New England Orienteering Club

Orienteering Interest Patchby Jane Torpie

With just a little planning, it’s possible to earn most of this Interest Patch Project badge at an NEOC Scout-O event (either a one-day event or a weekend). These instructions explain how to do that.

To earn the IPP, Cadettes, Seniors, and Ambassadors must complete 2 activities from the Skill Builders section, 1 activity from the Technology section, 1 activity from the Careers section, 1 activity from the Service Projects section, and 2 more activities, which may be drawn from any section(s).

At the NEOC Scout-O, girls will complete Skill Builders 1, 2, 3, and 5.  If they are willing to work with the Scout-O organizers ahead of time, they can also complete Service Project activities 2 and/or 4.  (Activity #2 is organizing the meet and activity #4 is providing instruction.)

Outside of the Scout-O, girls will need to complete only a Careers activity and a Technology activity. For example, girls could talk with an employee at an REI store about using a compass (Careers #2) and a GPS (Technology #5) or do research using the Internet to learn about the USGS National Mapping Program (Technology #4). They could also join NEOC and participate in 3 events (Careers #3).

Read this entire document first. You will need to have all of the items listed.

Gather these items to bring to an NEOC Scout-O weekend:

  • For each girl
    • a compass with a baseplate, and declination markings (ideally set-and-forget declination adjustment). (Skill Builder 2 asks for a “protractor compass.” This means that the compass has degree markings.)
    • some paper and pen or pencil (colored writing tools are helpful but not required)
    • a USGS topographical map of the are where the Scout-O is being held

Many people intuitively prefer to teach the theory of using a compass and then take the girls out to practice what they have learned. It’s also possible to take the girls on practice orienteering course, so they learn the skills by using them. NEOC will provide instructors upon advance request.

On the instructional day, try doing a practice White or Yellow course as a large group. As the girls become proficient in their map and compass usage at different rates (some girls learn more quickly than others), the groups tend to split up naturally. Using smaller groups, do another practice course (White or Yellow). These groups can choose to walk or run the course.

Then girls can work on the theoretical ideas, and finish by doing the competition course.

On the meet day, do the meet, and then use the time between the meet and the awards ceremony to complete any remaining requirements. The requirements are listed in the next section.




Would you enjoy increasing your physical fitness while competing in a sport that draws participants from around the globe? Or would you like to use map and compass skills to find your way while hiking, horseback riding, or wilderness camping? The map and compass shills you learn in this interest project could be useful all of your life. You will find Outdoor Education in Girl Scouting a valuable resource for completing this project; see pages 103-116.

Skill Builders

1. Obtain a U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) topographical map or an orienteering map. Show that you can identify and explain the map symbols for water, vegetation, human-constructed features, and contour features. Be able to explain what is meant by a contour interval and why it is important. Learn how to use the map scale and practice determining the actual distance between points on a map. Draw a map of your neighborhood, schoolyard, Community Park, or Girl Scout camp. Be sure to include the scale and legend.

2. Be able to identify each of the basic parts of a protractor compass. Learn to take a compass bearing from a map using a base-plate protractor compass. Be able to demonstrate your skill at taking a bearing from a map and then walking to your destination.

3. Using a U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) topographical map of your community, learn how to orient the map to magnetic north. Fold the map so you can focus on the unit

where you are located. Practice the orienteering skill of "thumbing the map" by marking your place on the map with your thumb as you go for a walk around the neighborhood. Maintain contact with the map with your thumb at all times while keeping the map oriented.

4. Learn to select the proper clothing and footwear to participate in an orienteering meet. Consider the time of year, the terrain, and the distance of the course. Learn to dress appropriately to protect yourself from ticks, poisonous plants, and snakes. Know what to do if you become lost. Be able to explain the meaning and importance of a safety bearing. Show that you can follow a safety bearing to a road or major trail.

5. Apply your knowledge. Take part in a local orienteering meet. Complete a white (beginner) or yellow (advanced beginner) level course. After the meet, compare your route choices with others. Discuss what you did well and what you might have done differently.


1. Use a computer graphics program or a CAD (computer aided design) program to create a map of your neighborhood, school-yard, or Local Park. Be sure to include the scale and legend.

2. Explore the Internet for topics related to maps, compasses, and orienteering. Subject areas you might investigate include orienteering, backcountry, hiking, maps, weather, U.S. Geological Survey, and geography. Find several bulletin boards that post messages about orienteering. Talk to others interested in orienteering through online chat sessions.

3. Find out how a compass is constructed and the different features to consider when purchasing a compass. Learn how designers of compasses use computer technology to create their products.

4. Learn about eh U.S. Geological Survey National Mapping Program. What resources are available and what tools are used? Information is available online or through the U.S. Geological Survey and the Department of Interior.

5. Find out how a Global Positioning System (GPS) works. What types of recreational activities and professions might utilize a GPS device and in what ways?

Service Projects

1. Prepare an orienteering map of one acre or more for a Girl Scout camp, local park, or schoolyard. Field-check features for accuracy; include a legend, a scale, and contour intervals.

2. Work with an orienteering club to organize an orienteering meet in your community. You can also organize a meet on your own by consulting printed resources. Find out the duties of the meet director, registrar, course setter, and persons in charge of the start and finish. Practice being a course setter. Use an orienteering map and set out 5-10 controls for a white (beginner) course.

3. Contact your local orienteering club or the U.S. Orienteering Federation to find out about string orienteering, a program for young children. Set up a string orienteering course for Daisy or Brownie Girl Scouts.

4. Organize an orienteering meet or workshop for Girl Scouts in your neighborhood or council. If possible, ask volunteers from an orienteering club to help you. Provide instruction for the participants in the use of a map and compass. Make an orienteering map available, recruit assistants, design a course, set the controls, and plan an awards ceremony.

Career Exploration

1. Learn about people who use maps or orienteering skills in their jobs. Make a list of careers that involve the significant use of a map and compass. Interview two people with such careers in person, by telephone, by fax, or by e-mail. Find out about educational requirements and employment opportunities.

2. The ability to use a map and compass accurately is an important skill for someone who leads sea kayaking, backpacking, or other high adventure trips. Discuss career possibilities with outfitters or trip leaders. What other skills and educational requirements are required to do these jobs?

3. Orienteering is a lifetime recreational skill. Join an orienteering club and participate in at least three club activities.

4. Be the route finder on a wilderness trip with your troop or group.

And Beyond


 Compete in an orienteering meet by completing a course at the yellow (advanced beginner) level or above.

If you'd like to use your new orienteering skills, try them out with these related interest projects:

  • Travel
  • Paddle, Pole, and Roll
  • Smooth Sailing
  • Camping
  • Backpacking