Spend New Year’s orienteering at Governor Bebb park

OKEANA — Community members who want to celebrate the New Year with an outdoor, physical activity will want to take advantage of two opportunities to participate in local orienteering events on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

New Year’s Orienteering has been an annual tradition in the Greater Cincinnati area for close to 30 years. While a few, more-experienced participants turnout for the night-time course on New Year’s Eve on Fri., Dec. 31, well over 100 participants of varying skill levels typically join in the New Year’s Day event on Sat., Jan. 1.

“We were looking for something for people to do that’s a healthy alternative to going out to the bars and traditional New Year’s Eve parties, and something that a whole family could enjoy,” said Mike Minium, event director, Orienteering Cincinnati.

As an internationally recognized sport, orienteering is an outdoor adventure in which participants find their way using a map. It is like a treasure hunt. Participants will receive a detailed map of the park, which shows a series of checkpoints they must try to locate.

“It’s fun to get together with everybody. As the course planner, I really appreciate hearing what participants have to say about the course, where they were challenged, where they make mistakes or have difficulties, but also, where they enjoyed the course,” Minium said.

There will be six different courses of various lengths and difficulty, so participants can choose the one that is right for their interest and ability level. Easy courses stay on the park trail system, while more advanced courses require cross country off-trail navigation. Participants who navigate advanced courses often get to see interesting park scenery, wildlife, and parts of the park that regular park visitors often don’t get to see. Participants usually spend 30-to-40 minutes on the shorter, easier courses up to about an hour on the longer, more advanced routes.

“It’s a day outdoors, or part of a day outdoors, and it’s an opportunity to explore MetroParks of Butler County and see some of the things that the parks have to offer. And, if you’ve never done it before, you have a chance to try something new and challenge yourself a little bit,” Minium said.

Whether participants walk or run, orienteering is a great opportunity for healthy, outdoor exercise. Participants can choose to stroll at a leisurely pace or race for the fastest time on the course, he said.

People of all ages and abilities participate - from families with young children to seniors in their seventies and above. Sometimes you see a whole family completing a course together; other families split up and each do different courses, individually. Beginner instruction will be available at the New Year’s Day event.

Orienteering Cincinnati (OCIN) is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing orienteering opportunities for education, competition, and recreation. The group organizes about 40 public orienteering events per year in different public parks and private lands around Greater Cincinnati. OCIN also provides instruction in map reading and navigation to area schools, scouts, and other youth groups.

The New Year’s events are in partnership with MetroParks of Butler County, where OCIN provides several events per year, including an “egg orienteering” course for young kids in spring, and a “Trail of Treats” around Halloween.


What: New Year’s Day Orienteering

Where: Governor Bebb MetroPark, 1979 Bebb Park Lane, Okeana

When: Sat., Jan.1, with start times between 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Event Fees: $10 for (OCIN) members and $15 for non-members. Discounts are available for youth and families. MetroParks of Butler County vehicle permit is required and may be purchased at the event. $8 daily, $15 annually, park permit is free for Butler County residents with an ID.

More info: OCIN.org and yourmetroparks.net. (More details are available at www.OCIN.org, or by emailing Mike Minium at mikeminium@gmail.com. Events are held rain, shine, or snow. Pre-registration for both courses closes on Thurs., Dec. 30 at 9 p.m. However, participants may also register on site. Participants are encouraged to dress appropriately for the weather conditions. (Note: the Camp Timberhill park location is closed this year due to construction.)

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