USMA Orienteering Club hosts USA Orienteering National Ranking Event

By Eric S. Bartelt West Point Public Affairs Specialist Date: Monday, Apr 15, 2024 Time: 15:55 EST
1 / 19

The U.S. Military Academy Orienteering Club hosted a sanctioned USA Orienteering National Ranking Event (NRE) at Camp Shea on April 13 and Lake Frederick and Bull Pond Recreation Area on April 14.

The purpose of the event, which is in its 44th year, is to increase cadet competency in orienteering and land navigation, develop USMA Orienteering team cadet members through planning, coordination and execution of multifaceted events, and to improve civil-military relations by hosting a world-class orienteering event at West Point.

Overall, more than 300 competitors competed over the two days with 230 competing on Saturday and 240 on Sunday. Additionally, 55 cadets from the Corps of Cadets joined in training on the course on Sunday.

Orienteering USA (OUSA), the national orienteering organization, officially approved this event and allows results from the courses to be included in official national competitor rankings. To meet sanctioning requirements, events must meet strict technical criteria, including map and course standardization. Every point is meticulously chosen, marked and checked to meet these criteria. 

Twenty-six members of the USMA Orienteering Club had a role in making the NRE run smoothly through the weekend. The entire event was cadet-led, with several key members leading the planning and preparation to conquer the major tasks of land surveying, course development, obtaining supplies, planning logistics, registration and complying with official OUSA standards.

“This event is the culmination of four months of work both out in the woods, behind the desk and meeting as a group to figure out how to best put the event on,” said Class of 2026 Cadet Hugh Baldwin, the USMA Orienteering Club PAO. “After months of planning it is extremely exciting to see it all come together and provide a world class event for the orienteering community.”

This event was led by Class of 2025 Cadet Justin McLemore as event director. McLemore thanked Class of 2024 Cadet Greg Kies, the team captain, and the officers in charge, Maj. Andrew Eck, Col. Mark Read, Col. Heidi Demarest, Lt. Col. Peter Nelson and Dr. Matt O’Bannion for their support through the process. Class of 2025 Cadet Shawn Mather and Class of 2024 Cadet Paul Bruce designed the courses for Day 1 and 2, respectively.

Baldwin said that each orienteering location – Camp Shea and Lake Frederick/Bull Pond – offered competitors the chance to have “multiple exciting days of orienteering because it is unique terrain and challenging each time.”

“In total, there are about 75 different total points for each day, with the courses ranging from 10 to 25 points depending on the difficulty one is competing on,” Baldwin said. “The distances are very dependent, anywhere from one mile on our shortest course to six-to-seven miles on the longest (one).”

Each competitor was given a map and compass to complete the course accommodating competitors from ages 6 and up.

“The most difficult courses should take the fastest competitors around 1:15,” Baldwin explained. “Each competitor has three hours to complete the course. West Point is known for having some of the most challenging races to orienteer because of its very rocky terrain, and its substantial changes in elevation.”

Baldwin stated that orienteering is a sport “great for its combination of athleticism and quick thinking.”

“You need to be confident of where you are at all times, while also trying to go as fast as possible through difficult but fun terrains,” Baldwin said. “Whether you are bounding across rocky terrain, avoiding water obstacles, climbing a cliffside, or dodging prickly plants, every race is something different.”

Baldwin said the team appreciated the opportunity to host the event for the orienteering community and help teach land navigation to the Corps.

“During summer training, orienteering cadets use their navigational expertise to help spread knowledge of land navigation throughout the Corps of Cadets whether they are Cadet Basic Training cadre, Cadet Field Training or Cadet Leadership Development Training members or leaders,” Baldwin said. “Creating and maintaining a core navigational competency is a fundamental necessity for America’s future Soldiers no matter where they go.”

To see more photos from the event, visit West Point Hosts USA Orienteering National Ranking Event | Flickr.