Sunday, October 23, 2005
  So what the heck is orienteering?
One visitor recently sent me an email asking what is orienteering. (It's listed as one of my hobbies.)

Orienteering is a great sport, and I highly recommend it to any one who likes to be out of doors, who likes to solve problems, and who likes a physical challenge coupled with a mental workout.

Describing orienteering is almost as challenging as doing it! Some basic information: orienteering clubs around the world (such as Indiana CrossRoads Orienteering,which is my home club)organize meets in different woods. Some do so on a weekly basis, others on a monthly or bi-weekly basis. Each time you go, the experience is different because you are in a different forest, running different courses. Of course, local clubs will use the same woods from season to season, but often they try to vary the starting points, so that the competitors use a different part of the woods than they did the last time they were there.

So, how do you DO orienteering? To begin with, you are given a map of the woods with your current location, 8-15 points, and the finish area marked on it, each of which you have to visit in order.

The points, called controls, will be on features such as a small boulder, the end of a ditch, a knoll, (a very small hill), a stream bend, a ruin, a path-fence junction, etc, and are marked with an orange and white flag and a punch. Each punch has it's own shape, and you punch into your score card with it, as proof that you've visited that control. By the end of the course, you should have a punch code for each control. It's a race, so the idea is to run as much as you can. The catch is, the course is not marked in the woods -- you have to choose the best way to get from point to point, and then navigate your way to the various points with the map and compass. If you get lost, you have to find your way back on course. The person who completes the course fastest wins! (The starts are staggered, so there's a good chance you won't see anyone else on your course, and perhaps a handful of other orienteerers on other courses as you make your way through the woods.)

It's great fun and a wonderful intellectual challenge while being a good workout. Gets the brain and the body going at the same time. One of the great things about orienteering is that you can do it at many levels of competition. Most local meets offer 3-4 different courses of various levels of difficulty, from the very easy which stays exclusively on trails, to the moderate which will include both trail running and cross country navigation, to the very hard which is almost exclusively off-trail. While some people are extremely competitive, and participate in national and international competition, many participate on a purely recreational basis, taking the course at a leisurly stroll. The easy courses are easy enough for kids to do alone (I started when I was about ten, and my kids participate now.) and the hard courses are real brain game as well as requiring decent fitness. Orienteering can also be done on skis (ski-orienteering is a winter olympic sport), on bikes, in canoes. There are even events for people with limited mobility. Adventure racing often includes an orienteering segment, and for those who like a real challenge, there is the rogaine, a 12-36 hour orienteering event.

If this sounds like something you'd be interested in, you can hook up with a local club through the United States Orienteering Federation. In other countries, you can try the International Orienteering Federation.
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Location: Cincinnati, Ohio, United States

Progressive Muslim, feminist, mom, writer, mystic, lover of the universe and Doug Schmidt, cellist, theologian and imam.

What I'm reading now

Cane River
An interesting exploration of the gradual whiting of a family through slavery to modern days.

To see an archive of all the books I've read (well the ones I've read and review since I started the blog) with comments, please click here

Causes Worth Supporting

This is just a short list -- a few of my favorites.

English Language Islamic Fiction. We need more of it. Lots more.
Pay a Teacher's Salary in Afghanistan. The Hunger site actually has a lot of worthwhile programs. You can find them all here .
Muslims for Progressive Values. My organization. We can always use donations, of time or money!
Human Rights Campaign for the glbt community
National Religious Campaign Against Torture
The ACLU I'm a card carrying member. Hope you'll become one too. The organization that has done the most, as far as I can tell, to pull the countries progressive side together.
Network of Spiritual Progressives. Working to reclaim religion and morality for the religious left.

Blogs Worth Reading

Wanda Campbell also known as Nochipa A very gifted poet and a gentle, compassionate soul. Nochipa and I are on the same page on sooooo many things
Writeous Sister Aminah Hernandez, she's got some excellent latino pieces and always has good writing info on her blog.
Sister Scorpion aka Leila Montour - Leila is a fount of energy, quirky humor, and bad attitude. She's also a talented poet.
Muhajabah Very interesting commentary here. I don't always agree with her, but her pieces are always thought-provoking.
Georgie Dowdell Georgie is a great writer and a good friend.
Louise Marley Another great writer. I think Louise is one of the best sf writers exploring faith themes.
Ink in My Coffee Devon Ellington (who has numerous aliases) who is also the editor of Circadian Poems. A truly inspiring woman with a seemingly endless supply of energy.
Ethnically Incorrect With a name like that, isn't a given I'm going to enjoy this writer?
Freedom from the Mundane Colin Galbraith, another excellent writer, from Scotland.
The Scruffy Dog Review This is a new e-zine with an ecclectic mix of fiction, poetry, and non-fic, some really enjoyable pieces here.
Ramblings of a Suburban Soccer Mom Lara, another gentle soul, very thoughtful.
Circadian Poems A journal of poetry, new stuff up all the time.
Ye Olde Inkwell Michelle writes romance and is one of my writing buddies.
Muhammad Michael Knight The original punk Muslim writer. Like him or love him, Mike is always coming up with the unexpected.

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