Empire Orienteering Club (EMPO) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and holds a club charter from Orienteering USA. EMPO sponsors orienteering events, provides instruction in the sport of orienteering at every event, and produces detailed orienteering maps of public parks and private venues in the Capital District of New York State.

Donations to Empire Orienteering Club qualify as charitable contributions.

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Orienteering: The Thinking Sport

A mental and physical navigation sport of Scandinavian origin, orienteering is a foot race, a puzzle-solving thought race, a cross country running sport, and a fun recreational activity.

Orienteering is for men, women, and children of all ages and abilities. All you need is a love for the great outdoors! The objective is to navigate correctly to checkpoints (called controls) in park lands or woods using a special, highly detailed topographic map; participants will navigate their way to a series of controls before crossing the finish line. Control locations are marked in the terrain by orange-and-white markers, so you'll know when you arrive at the checkpoint. Choosing the right route for your skills and abilities is an important factor; you may want to stay on trails as much as possible, or you may find it quicker to go directly through the woods!

Courses vary in difficulty and length, and there will be several offerings at each event -- beginner courses are typically 1-2km long with navigation entirely or almost entirely along established trails or other handrails (such as streams, stone walls, field edges), while the most advanced courses are 6-10km long and require extensive cross-country navigation. Participants can travel alone or in groups -- running, walking, or leisurely strolling the course. The sport can be enjoyed as a healthy form of family recreation, or as a highly competitive race involving navigational skill, speed, and physical stamina. Bring clothing to protect you as you may get scratched or muddy, a compass if you have one (basic baseplate is great!), and a sense of adventure!

For navigation training when we don't have an event scheduled, Grafton Lakes State Park in Grafton has two permanent courses set up with help from EMPO. Contact the park office for a map of one or both courses, and see how many points you can find! [Info: What's a permanent course?]

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