Orienteering Map

Orienteering in the North Country

Deborah Dudley

Nature Up North and the St. Lawrence GIS Program launched a new orienteering course, a competitive international sport that combines racing with navigation skills.

An orienteering race is a timed event, where individuals use specially crafted maps with topographic details of the area they will navigate. Racers select their route and navigate through diverse and often unfamiliar terrain with only the aid of a map and compass, visiting designated control points described on the map.

Made possible with the support of an Innovation Grant, this new course serves St. Lawrence and the larger community by giving participants an opportunity to explore the campus property and develop basic navigation skills. It debuted on Nov. 3 with a brief overview of orienteering and provided basic map and compass skills. Participants—students, faculty, staff, and families from the community—were invited to tour the course at their own pace.

Enrollees begin at the Wachtmeister Field Station and explored the interesting and diverse geologic features surrounding the Kip Trail. Depending on the individual, it may be enjoyed as a race or as a pleasant walk in the woods.

Orienteering is just one of many opportunities to engage with nature through Nature Up North, a community-based organization at St. Lawrence University.

“At Nature Up North we really try to expose people to a wide variety of interacting with nature and recognize that people see the natural world through a range of different lenses,” says Erika Barthelmess, professor of biology and Nature Up North project director.

The website, natureupnorth.org, is a Virtual Nature Center, which includes an “encounter feature” designed to encourage people to post pictures and narratives about experiences and observations they’ve had in the natural world.

“By collectively putting all of the encounters together into our master database we are starting to build a reference library of what species we see at different times year,” says Barthelmess “and this database allows us to monitor change over time.”

Beyond taking the orienteering course, students, faculty, staff, and community members are also invited to participate in Nature Up North’s other community programs such as their Citizen Science programming. By helping Barthelmess and her team identify and collect data about North Country plants, birds and animals, individuals are contributing to important scientific research that is going on across the country.

To learn more about Nature Up North visit natureupnorth.org