OLOU – Orienteering Louisville offers multi-generational fun
Orienteering Louisville gives families the chance to explore in a whole new way.
Do you ever take your kids and pretend you are on a treasure hunt? Do you enjoy exploring a park, but to get off the beaten path? Or maybe you just like to learn new things while being active outdoors.
Orienteering Louisville can fulfill all of these things! What is orienteering? Orienteering is a sport that uses a topographical map to navigate from one control marker to the next. It is a great activity that all ages and generations can participate.
Fortunately, Louisville has a very active orienteering club that our family has been a part of the past few years. OLOU (Orienteering Louisville) hosts sprint meets each Tuesday through spring and summer and then on Sundays through the winter. We love being outside and hiking as a family, so this fits right into our interests. Plus it allows for off trail exploration at the parks which is always fun. The control markers sometimes are located at unique features of the park that you may have not otherwise have seen.
Their summer GOGO (Get Out & Go Orienteering) series is currently meeting every Tuesday starting at 6pm at various locations – mostly local parks- throughout Kentuckiana. These sprint meets typically are 2-3 kilometers in distance and you must find the control markers in numerical order as seen on the map. Usually, they have two courses: a beginner course and a more advanced course. The club provides free instructions before any meet as needed – just let the meet directors know that you are first timers or need a refresher. You can complete each course as a family or by yourself and you can go as fast or leisurely as you want. It is $5 (cash only) for the meets which rents a fingerstick and the ability to run both courses. A fingerstick is used at each of the control markers for an electronic punch to show that you found them in order and it also records your time. Your time begins as soon as you punch in the start electronic punch and ends when you punch in the finish electronic punch, so it isn’t a mass start. In the beginner courses you get to look at the map before beginning, so you can ask as many questions as needed before you go out. For the advanced courses, you typically grab the map after you punch in start.
Our family often packs a picnic dinner while at the event. My husband and 10 year old son both compete individually. My 8 year old and 5 year old will try the beginner course with a parent at a few meets throughout the season. The meets are very family friendly with popsicles brought often to share with the competitors. Since there is a chance you could go off trails for a shortcut or reach a control marker, bug spray, tall socks or pants would be helpful but not necessary. Also a compass – not one on your phone- is good to have too – especially for the advanced courses.
OLOU hopes you and your family can make it out to one of their meets soon. Stay up-to-date on the events by following them on facebook. Orienteering is a great family activity to learn map reading skills and enjoy the great outdoors!
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By Guest Contributor: Jeanette