News & Stories

TRAIL KIDS Grows the Sport of Orienteering

Keeping kids active, adventurous, and moving this fall!

This fall, the TRAIL KIDS orienteering and run program has seen a huge growth in numbers due to a large push of parents looking for safe outdoor activities for their children during COVID-19.

The program, which meets twice a week for running, orienteering, slackline, agility, relays, games, ultimate frisbee, filled in less than a week with over one hundred youth on the roster and a waitlist of parents wanting access to the popular program. Luckily, we were able to recruit more coaches and open the programs to more registrants.

MNOC is Minnesota’s local orienteering club that puts on meets and other introductory events around the Twin Cities and surrounding area. The organization has been very helpful in providing coach training along with support at many of our Loppet Games orienteering race events. Orienteering is the sport where youth and adults have maps to try and find controls that are hidden in the woods. Individuals need to use both mind and body to be the quickest to get all the controls in the shortest period of time. For an introduction to orienteering maps click here: Orienteering Maps 101

Orienteering has traditionally been more popular in European countries but the U.S. and Canada also have a growing number of kids that compete at a national and international level. TRAIL KIDS desires to introduce both youth and families to the active sport of orienteering in Minneapolis and surrounding Midwest Area. 

There are many benefits of orienteering for youth development, of which one of the best is getting kids off their screens and into nature (which is a necessity during COVID-19 times).

There is a great article written in the Health Fitness Revolution that describes the Top 10 health benefits of Orienteering. Below is a list of these benefits:

  1. Creates a balance between mind and body
  2. Teaches self-reliance
  3. Sharpens decision making skills
  4. Teaches how to think and act under pressure
  5. Increases fitness levels
  6. Increases cardiovascular capacity
  7. Enjoying time with nature
  8. Increases self-esteem
  9. Can be very useful and even lifesaving
  10. Enjoying time with nature

The TRAIL KIDS program also includes the Fall Adventure Running Series which consists of three trail running events on the single track and ski trails at Wirth Park. This year due to COVID-19, we had teams of 10-15 youth run the race course as a group as opposed to the usual mass starts. We had hundreds of children safely compete while wearing face masks and utilizing safe social distancing.

We are doing our best to keep kids safe and active this fall. Youth and coaches wear face masks. They also take forehead temperatures before practice starts and practice social distancing as much as possible.