So that scouting video in another thread got me to thinking - of all the odd things you've ever been asked about orienteering by people that maybe don't quite get what it is we do, what's the worst or strangest that you've ever encountered? Either just in general conversation or in dealings with officialdom - I suspect some of the Americans in particular will have some excellent examples from the latter.
I think this will take some beating: I was once asked 'so when you're orienteering do you have to carry your own ropes around with you, or are they provided?'
Some years later I'm still not entirely sure what it was he was confusing us with.
maybe that was Mountaineering
Many people seem to think that it involves being dropped off in an unknown place in the woods with little or no equipment and finding your way back to civilization.
A famous case from the 1990s involved the guy dropping off the porta potties asking where the water was for the boats. But that was because whoever took the order over the phone had written down that they were for Central New York Oaring and Tiering.
I was hanging controls once and had a guy in a car stop and ask me what kind of bugs I was trying to trap.
I was hanging controls once and had a guy in a tree-stand point a shotgun at me and tell me I was trespassing. (Which I wasn't but it didn't seem like a good time to argue.)
My grandmother always referred to it as pioneering.
I used to carry the control stakes in a plastic tube, and was twice told I can't do archery or bow hunting in that place - while carrying the control flags on a belt over the shoulder, looking quite differently from a bow....
Is it a common occurrence to have a gun pointed at you in America?
I was once mistaken for a potential terrorist when test running a course in a uni campus and security tracked down the organiser and questioned her but there weren't any guns involved. Never really had any strange misconceptions about the sport though, other than being confused with rogaining.
I've never knowingly had a gun pointed at me in America (or elsewhere). I did stop wearing the belts for carrying SI units someone after the September 2001 terrorist attacks, to avoid misconception.
There was a national level meet in the US in 1991 where some reasonable route choices unfortunately went near houses that were just outside the park. Some orienteers were stopped by irate gun-toting homeowners (and others were stopped by police). That's the only case I know of while orienteering.
I suppose our Australian equivalent is for the irate park user/home owner to let their
kangaroo dog chase you.
I once set a score course for inner city elementary school students, and the first class of the morning, several students came running back carrying a handgun they had found hidden in bushes next to the school (and close to one of my controls).
I've surprised a few hunters while orienteering and setting courses, but the most interesting surprise was the copulating couple that I almost trod upon - I didn't see them in the tall grass until so close that I actually had to leap to avoid stepping on them!
We did have a relay once where the course went close to where a guy was camping, and he was having his dogs chase the orienteers. As I approached the control, another orienteer handed me the stick he was carrying and said "You're going to need this!". Runners on later legs were warned, and one of them earned a lot of cred when she beaned one of the dogs with a big rock.
Overheard in a pub in Kerry: one local ‘what are these people here for do you think?’ Second local ‘they’re for the Roaring and Tearing, up above’.
On the other end of the spectrum, many years ago, when I was setting out controls for a local event (Lewis Morris Park, NJ), a nun walking along a trail asked me if I was orienteering.
Well for some orienteering is the holy grail
Probably decided if it was a Sunday and you weren't in church then the only other option was orienteering.
I was putting controls out in a local bushland park and a resident across the road came out from his verandah and told me I couldn't littler there (somewhere else I assume was acceptable?). 6 control stands and flags - VERY strange litter indeed.
I once ran past two blokes with a shovel and a dog while Night Orienteering in the forest of dean. I didn't stop to listen to what they might have asked.....
During a meeting with city parks officials to advocate for our local club and after showing pictures of orienteers in the woods, I was told "Those people are just out there body building".
I met someone once who though orienteering would make a great olympic sport...
In terms of weird stuff in the woods, I was setting up a meet in the US when, deep in the woods, I came across a guy in a clearing practising the saxophone.
I had a friend who seemed to think it was some kind of survival sport and insisted on carrying his pistol with him in his bug-out bag the one time I sent him out on a course.
A guy driving a truck shot at our team through some trees while we were biking in an adventure race in Canada. Luckily, he wasn’t a great shot. When our ATV trails converged a minute later, my teammate stopped for a “chat”.
The worst misconceptions of orienteering are the ones among those who run this sport as recreational activity, think elite orienteers are flying without touching the ground, and like to hide controls, so no one can spot them.
I run this sport as a recreational activity (certainly not professionally by anyone I know of in the US), I was never elite, but did aspire to fly without touching the ground (isn't that the definition of flying?) and am convinced many times someone has hidden, moved, or stolen the control!
...from 2012, Source: Cristina?
Near the end of one race in a state park, while I was trailing a bunch of vegetation, I came across a couple dads riding around on hoverboards in the park - the daughter asked, "why is that man running?" The response from one of the guys: "He's running from the police..."
While putting water out for a course, someone called the ranger to complain about a person watering their grow in the park. It was raining, by the way. Fortunately the ranger knew I was out there.
A while back I was explaining rogaining to some of the nurses I work with. When I'd finished, one of the nurses said "so you mean it's like the Hunger Games except no one gets killed?"
One day we were driving back from an event in Middlemarch (Central Otago, NZ). Dad was towing the Dunedin club caravan which is very distinctly painted as an orienteering flag and had "Dunedin Orienteering Club" written on the side. Dad is always keen for a stop at the local pub/hotel which happened to be in the middle of nowhere, a historical stopping point on the old dunstan road, a route the miners took to get to the goldfields. Clark's Junction... sort of like South Pass City in Wyoming on the Oregon trail is probably the most likeness to somewhere in the states. Since the gold rushes 150 years ago it's sort of been the hangout spot for the local farmers. These guys are a bit rough around the edges, not really exposed too much to the outside world, and a little bit racist to boot (sorry in advance if anyone finds the following bit offensive). So when Dad pulled up with the caravan in tow there was some heads turning. We walked in and Dad walked up to the bar. As he did one of the old timers sitting there mumbles under his breath to the other guys there "huh, so they are not a bunch of chinese afterall"
Turned out that he saw the word "Orienteering" and thought "oriental"
In Tower Grove, an urban park, I hung the controls (stakes) and punches about 7 AM. When competition began at 9, 5 or more were reported missing. Expecting they'd been picked up and tossed, I was surprised that none of the missing ones appeared when I collected the rest. I went to the ranger station next AM. He said, "Here are some. I picked them up yesterday." Turns out that there was a Wiccan festival in east end of park, he didn't like Wiccans, and he assumed the controls were part of their festival but were outside of their "boundaries"; Yes, we also were on park's calendar.
Well this is a misconception of much of sport, perhaps of life even. "What are you doing?" "Orienteering. " "What do you win?"
Hammer will recall the bank teller when we were on a road trip in to the states, who thought it was like rowing. When I explained she asked something like - well why is it called oar-ienteering....?
I get a lot of "Oh, so its a scavenger hunt?" Perhaps more of a reflection on my constant searching-for-something look.
I sometimes confuse orienteering with obsessive-compulsive disorder.
This discussion thread is closed.