FAQ

FIRST, THE BASICS:
 
What is orienteering?  In short, it's a navigation-based sport in which participants use a map and compass to find a number of pre-placed control points (orange and white flags), in sequence.  The events usually take place in the woods, but occasionally on water or in urban environments.
 
Who orienteers?  Anyone can enjoy orienteering!  Meets are very casual and friendly, instruction is available for beginners, and equipment is available for loan so there's nothing stopping you! You can navigate a course at a leisurely hike, or push yourself for the fastest time - your approach is completely up to you.
 
So what is a "meet"?  At an orienteering meet, the club designs and sets up multiple courses for participants to complete. Meets are held about every month or so. The courses vary in length and in difficulty and there is quite literally something for everyone.  Meets can be enjoyed by families looking for a relaxing day in the woods, or athletic competitors looking to challenge themselves.  For more information about how a meet proceeds, click here.
 
Can I join ICO?  Events are open to the public, but memberships are available. Being a club member gives you a discounted rate on meet fees and connects you with others in the area who are interested in the sport.  As a member you'll also have the opportunity to help out with meet administration, course setting, and course design. Helping to design courses is an excellent way to take your navigation skills to the next level!
 
 
WANT MORE DETAIL? KEEP READING!
 
Do I need to register for an event?  No, registration is currently on site only for all of our standard meets.  Feel free to show up at any time during the registration hours.  Most of our special events, like the annual Rogaine, have advanced registration online or through snail mail.

Do I need experience to be able to orienteer at a meet?  No!  None at all!  In fact we encourage first timers to come out and and try it.  Every meet has a beginners clinic prior to the beginning of the meet, and plenty of helpful people to help answer your questions.

What exactly happens at a meet?  When do I show up?  What do I do once I get there?  For a detailed explanation of how a meet proceeds, visit this page.

How much does it cost?  Current standard meet pricing is $15 per group for non members and $5 per group for members.  Special events are priced individually so you'll have to check the website for details on those.
 
Is there a discount for groups/youth/Scouts?  Although we don't currently have a specific discount for juniors or scouts, our current pricing set up is very conducive to groups.  For example if 12 scouts were to come with three adults and participate as three groups you only pay $15/group (non-member) or $5/group (member) which includes one map +$2 per extra map.  So, if the above group of 15 people were members the total cost with EVERYONE getting a map would be $39, or $2.60 per person.  It's even less if people decide to share maps!  Please note that we can work with groups like scouts so that the group can purchase a membership similar to a family membership.  Contact us for details.

Can I bring a group of kids/adults to a meet? Absolutely, please do!
 
Where are meets held?  Meets are held at a number of properties around central Indiana.  Click here to see a list of properties with maps and directions.
 
Why is there a window of start times?  It's intended that each participating party (which can be an individual or small group) in an event run "their own course".  In other words, we want you to find your way along the course using your abilities with map and compass.  The window start allows us to stagger starters on each course by a few minutes.  The prevents any intentional, accidental, or subconscious following of other participants.  It also makes the check in process much easier for the volunteers!

What level of fitness is required?  At any meet, you will find people of various fitness levels.  If you can hike on a trail for 20-40 minutes at a leisurely pace, you can complete a beginner O-course.  Some people choose to walk/hike, others run the course for time.

What are the different course difficulties?  Courses are named by color.  From easiest to hardest, the colors are white, yellow, orange, brown, green, red, and blue.  Click here to see a longer description of the courses and here for all you could possibly want to know.

What equipment do I need?  The only required piece of equipment is a compass.  Any base plate compass, orienteering compass, or adventure racing compass will work.  You can borrow one of ICO's compasses at the meet if you don't have your own.  Local stores that usually carry these include Nurpu River and Mountain Supply in Noblesville, Rusted Moon Outfitters in Broad Ripple, and Dicks Sporting Goods.  Other nice items to have are a map case to keep your map clean and dry (zip-lock bags also work well), pens or markers to mark your map, and something to carry water and snacks in.

What do I wear to a meet?
  The most important item to wear is a pair of comfortable walking/hiking/running shoes.  After that, it really depends on what difficulty of course you are planning on doing.  If you are doing a beginner course, you will be mostly on dirt trails, so just dress appropriately for the weather.  Even shorts and a T-shirt or jeans will be fine.  If you do an advanced course, you will be going off trail and sometimes navigating rocky or hilly terrain.  Your shoes are likely to get wet or dirty.  Wear long pants to avoid thorny plants and stinging nettles, or wear gaiters.  Dress in layers that can be shed as you are moving and get warm.  A small pack is nice to carry water and snacks.

Can I use GPS?  There is no GPS allowed at orienteering events.  Orienteering is the sport of navigating using a map and compass.

Do you have classes that teach orienteering?  Would you teach a class to my group?  There is a beginner clinic before each meet that teaches basic map and compass skills and everything you need to know to participate in a meet.  Check the schedule for each event for times.  We love to share our sport and try to accommodate requests from groups.  Please contact our Education Director, Frank Baukert, at fbaukert@indyo.org to discuss what we can do for you.

What is a standard meet?  Score-O? Rogaine?
Standard meet - unless specified otherwise, any ICO event is a standard meet. In a standard meet, usually multiple courses of differing lengths/difficulties are offered and the orienteer will pick a course to do depending on his experience level.  He will then have to navigate to all of the points on the course in the specified order.  Hitting the controls out of order is not allowed.  The course will be some form of a loop eventually taking the orienteer back to the start/finish where his time will be recorded.  Then the orienteer can choose to start over on a different course if desired.

Score-O - A Score-O is different from a standard meet in that controls can be picked up in any order.  These events usually have a mass start where all orienteers start at the same time and must get back to the start/finish area in a set amount of time.  Some controls may be worth more points than others, particularly if they are far from the start area or hard to find.  Usually the course is set so that most participants will not be able to visit all of the controls in the allotted time.  The goal is to accumulate as many points as possible without going over the time limit.  Thus a Score-O has an added element of strategy as the orienteer must choose which points to go for (one strategy would be to get a lot of low point value controls) and in which order.  ICO usually puts on a 2 hour Score-O in January at Eagle Creek.

Rogaine - A Rogaine is essentially a Score-O on steriods.  All of the same conventions of a Score-O apply except that the time limit is usually much longer - often 12 or 24 hours.  These are long endurance events where orienteers are covering many miles together in teams.  Rogaines are team events and a team must travel together at all times while navigating through the woods.  ICO usually puts on one 12 hour Rogaine a year in late winter/early spring, called the Conquer the Crossroads Rogaine.  To complete a Rogaine is a great challenge and very rewarding!  See Wikipedia for some more information and history: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rogaining

Is this geocaching?  This is not geocaching.  The two sports could be considered cousins of each other, but they are definitely different.
 
Is there a permanent orienteering course where I can practice?
There are two permanent orienteering courses in Indiana, one in Morgan Monroe State Forest (near Martinsville, IN) and one in Hoosier National Forest (near Story, IN).  Check out more information about those courses here.

What's involved in volunteering at a meet?  All of our events are run by volunteer members of the club.  You do not need to be an expert navigator.  We need people to do many jobs, including designing courses, setting courses, collecting controls after the meet, greeting participants, assisting with registration, recording times, etc.  You can volunteer for one or more jobs.  Our experienced members will help coach you through the process if you want to learn to design and direct meets.  Assisting with meet directing and helping pick up controls are great ways to improve your orienteering skills.  Contact Vice President Jerry Lyons at jlyons@indyo.org to volunteer.

How do I volunteer to help with a meet?  I want to help out, but I'm not comfortable directing?
We alway appreciates anyone who wants to volunteer to help with a meet.  Please contact info@indy.org if you have any interest in volunteering.