Orienteering combines exercise and enjoyment in forest nature.
Orienteering is a sport whose basic idea is to navigate a course by visiting predetermined control points in the right order. Orienteer uses a map and a compass to do these. Competitors choose their route for each leg independently. The unique challenge of orienteering lies in combining both mental and physical elements simultaneously during the exercise.
Orienteering is a great sport for young and old alike. It also allows different levels of interest from recreational meets to world championship races. One can get an easy introduction to orienteering by participating in events organised by local orienteering clubs or by simply acquiring an orienteering map, planning a course and heading to the forest. In Finland, Everyman’s Rights allows people free access to forests; however, in the case of organised events, a permit from the landowner is always needed.
In orienteering competitions, the fastest time wins. A prerequisite for getting an approved result is visiting all control points in the right order and respecting no-go zones such as private housing areas, cultivated land, young seedling stands and nature conservation areas. A good course-setter plans orienteering routes so that negative impacts to sensitive areas are avoided.
Besides being a sports discipline, orienteering is a great way to explore forests and appreciate nature. When you enter an unknown forest with a map, there’s always a possibility to find something new, for instance, good places to pick berries and mushrooms. On top of this, exercise and spending time in a forest environment have been scientifically proven to have positive health effects. In orienteering, these two are combined in a fun way.