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Resources include the Orienteering merit badge worksheet in PDF format Adobe Acrobat PDF and Word format Microsoft Word DOC document, links, and cross-references to related badges and awards.
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Orienteering merit badge
Status: Elective
Created: 1974
Discontinued: no
BSA Advancement ID: 080
Requirements revision: 2013
Latest pamphlet revision: 2012


Orienteering, the use of map and compass to find locations and plan a journey, has been a vital skill for humans for thousands of years. Orienteering is also a recognized sport at the Olympic Games, and thousands of people participate in the sport each year in local clubs and competitions.

Orienteering merit badge requirements

  1. Show that you know first aid for the types of injuries that could occur while orienteering, including cuts, scratches, blisters, snakebite, insect stings, tick bites, heat and cold reactions (sunburn, heatstroke, heat exhaustion, hypothermia), and dehydration. Explain to your counselor why you should be able to identify poisonous plants and poisonous animals that are found in your area.
  2. Explain what orienteering is.
  3. Do the following:
    a. Explain how a compass works. Describe the features of an orienteering compass.
    b. In the field, show how to take a compass bearing and follow it.
  4. Do the following:
    a. Explain how a topographic map shows terrain features. Point out and name five terrain features on a map and in the field.
    b. Point out and name 10 symbols on a topographic map.
    c. Explain the meaning of declination. Tell why you must consider declination when using map and compass together.
    d. Show a topographic map with magnetic north-south lines.
    e. Show how to measure distances on a map using an orienteering compass.
    f. Show how to orient a map using a compass.
  5. Set up a 100-meter pace course. Determine your walking and running pace for 100 meters. Tell why it is important to pace-count.
  6. Do the following:
    a. Identify 20 international control description symbols. Tell the meaning of each symbol.
    b. Show a control description sheet and explain the information provided.
    c. Explain the following terms and tell when you would use them: attack point, collecting feature, catching feature, aiming off, contouring, reading ahead, handrail, relocation, rough versus fine orienteering.
  7. Do the following:
    a. Take part in three orienteering events. One of these must be a cross-country course.*
    • Note to the Counselor: While orienteering is primarily an individual sport, BSA Youth Protection procedures call for using the buddy system. Requirement 7a can be completed by pairs or groups of Scouts.
    b. After each event, write a report with (1) a copy of the master map and control description sheet, (2) a copy of the route you took on the course, (3) a discussion of how you could improve your time between control points, and (4) a list of your major weaknesses on this course . Describe what you could do to improve.
  8. Do ONE of the following:
    a. Set up a cross-country course that is at least 2,000 meters long with at least five control markers. Prepare the master map and control description sheet.
    b. Set up a score-orienteering course with at least 12 control points and a time limit of at least 60 minutes. Set point values for each control. Prepare the master map and control description sheet.
  9. Act as an official during an orienteering event. This may be during the running of the course you set up for requirement 8.
  10. Teach orienteering techniques to your patrol, troop, or crew.

The official source for the information shown in this is:
Boy Scout Requirements, 2018 Edition (BSA Supply SKU #641568)

View the change list (history) of these requirements. The text of these requirements may be locked. In that case, they can only be edited
by an administrator.
Please note any errors found in the above requirements on this article's Talk Page.


Worksheet A FREE workbook for Orienteering is available here! (PDF or Word) with the maps, charts, links, diagrams, and checklists you need! Or click here to print just the Orienteering requirements. usscouts.org has PDF and Word versions of workbooks for Scouts BSA ranks and merit badges, Cub Scouting ranks and adventures, and STEM Nova awards.

Orienteering merit badge is an option for the National Outdoor Badge for Hiking.
The Orienteering merit badge is an option for the Designed to Crunch STEM Nova Award.

  1. The BSA Orienteering Troop Program Feature offers meeting and activity plans to include Orienteering as one of your monthly themes.
  2. Orienteering is a popular summer camp merit badge.

Requirement resources

The Troop Orienteering Monthly Theme includes meeting and activity materials.
1: First aid:

3-4: Map & Compass:

4c: Online Declination Calculator
6a: International Control Descriptions An online interactive quiz for learning or reviewing the IOF symbols
6ab: 2004 Int'l Specification for Control Descriptions - 17 pages Adobe Acrobat PDF
6ab: One Page Control Description Cheat Sheet Adobe Acrobat PDF

Related awards

Outdoor-related awards
Sports-related awards

See also

Scouts BSA portal
Venturing portal
Sea Scout portal
General Merit Badge information

External links

Personal tools