New Year’s Day orienteering encourages outdoor activity

Orienteering Cincinnati and MetroParks of Butler County will present a New Year’s Day orienteering event on Thursday, Jan. 1 at Camp Timberhill in Butler County from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The event is designed for everyone — from beginners to those with a more advanced training. It will feature a range of different courses, for various ages and skill levels, said Mike Minium, event director for Orienteering Cincinnati.

“You use a detailed topographic map of the park to find a series of checkpoints,” he said. “You can treat it as a competition, as a race, or as a recreational hike.”

A standard course generally consists of a start, a series of control sites, or checkpoints that are marked by circles, connected by lines and numbered in the order they are to be visited, and a finish. There are typically 8 to 15 checkpoints on a course. Beginning participants will follow the parks trails, roads and streams. More experienced participants will navigate off of the trails, using more intricate details of the map to find their way. The map is the main tool, but some participants may choose to use a compass.

“We do start people on the course at time intervals so that you’re not just following the person that starts ahead of you, or a whole bunch of people at the same time. So, you are able to navigate on your own, and not just follow a crowd,” Minium said.

Participants will have an opportunity to explore the park in a new way with detailed maps that cover the entire park. Each course is different, based on how it is planned by the course setter. Events are conducted rain, shine or snow.

Orienteering is an internationally recognized sport, where orienteers use an accurate, detailed map and a compass to find points in the landscape. It can be enjoyed as a walk in the woods or as a competitive sport. Attracting about 50 participants, children from a young age to adults in their 70s regularly participate. Children are encouraged to participate in the youth league series.

“A lot of our events and programs are geared toward teaching people how to use maps to navigate,” Minium said. “We felt like New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day was a good time to have an outdoor activity for people that maybe aren’t interested in the traditional alcohol-type parties or activities, and maybe interested in something outdoors, or physical, similar to the turkey trot races on Thanksgiving. It’s the same idea to offer an outdoor activity on New Year’s.”

Orienteering Cincinnati was founded in 1984. The organization has maps of about 50 different parks in the area, including parks in Butler, Warren, Hamilton, Clinton, Clermont Counties and in Northern Kentucky. Orienteering Cincinnati facilitates about 30 events per year.

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