Activity 71/150


Orienteering is an activity in which participants move through forested or urban areas using a detailed map to navigate between checkpoints.


The history of orienteering can be traced back to the late 19th century in Sweden, where it originated as military training. The actual term "orienteering" was first used in 1886 at the Swedish Military Academy Karlberg and meant the crossing of unknown land with the aid of a map and a compass. Given Canada’s diverse terrain, it has become a favourite place for international orienteering events.

Orienteering events take place in forested areas, city parks or urban neighbourhoods, preferably with interesting topographical detail.

How to play
A standard orienteering course consists of a start, a series of control sites (checkpoints), and a finish. At the start, participants are given a detailed map with checkpoints marked on it. By reading the map while on the move, participants choose their own route to find the checkpoints. There is a flag at each checkpoint. Most orienteering events use staggered starts to ensure that each orienteer has a chance to do their own navigating, and will not be followed. However, there are several other popular race formats including relays, mass-start endurance events, and "Score-O" events in which the orienteer must find as many controls as possible within a specified time. Orienteering is mostly done on foot, but can also be done on mountain bike or cross-country skis. For more information visit Orienteering Canada.

Suggested equipment
- Map
- Compass
- Sneakers or running shoes
- Water

Physical activity in Canada includes everyone, regardless of any ability or circumstance. Some sports and activities may, however, require a few adaptations to make them as accessible as possible. Below you’ll find recommendations and suggestions on how to accommodate individuals that may have limitations or different needs. With a positive attitude and a little ingenuity, any activity can be made enjoyable for all.


To adapt orienteering for an individual who has a visual impairment consider participating in teams or in pairs. Choose a course that is relatively flat and free from obstacles. Checkpoints should be marked clearly, with tactile or auditory cues.

Learning/Cognitive Disabilities

Some alternatives to orienteering to consider are to present the instructions in pictures and writing. Make navigation straight forward and participate in teams. Reward participants at each station and eliminate the race scenario and focus on fun.

Mobility Limitation

To adapt orienteering for an individual who has a mobility limitation consider moving the activity to an area that has a flat surface or indoors. Shorten the length of the course and provide seating areas. Clues should be easy to reach and the course should be free from obstacles.


Benefits of Orienteering

The Canadian Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines outline the amount and type of physical activity you need at every age and stage of life. And, for the first time, the new 24-hour Movement Guidelines for Children & Youth also include sleep. Following the guidelines will help reduce the risk of chronic disease, lead to a more focused mind, a stronger, fitter body, and all in all, a more enjoyable life.

See Benefits and Guidelines

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Michelle Murray
Communications Coordinator