Learn what the basic map colours represent


Kids should learn the basic colours on orienteering maps (black, brown, green, yellow, blue, pink) and how they represent categories of features:

  • Black: rock and boulders and man-made features
  • Brown: land forms (contours, knolls, etc.)
  • White: Open forest that you can easily run through
  • Green: thicker forest
  • Yellow: Open fields
  • Blue: water
  • Pink: course and out of bounds symbols

Note that kids should start by learning what the general colours mean along with a few key symbols (depending on the area you're working in) and don't need to learn everything right away. Brown and contour features can generally be taught later. 

Tip for coaches: Kids tend to instinctively think grass (open field) should be mapped with green and not yellow because 'grass is green'. 


The following links point to resources that have been collected and are relevant to this skill (?).

ISOM 2000 and ISSOM legends from o-store.ca


A great set of legends with various explanations of map symbols, etc. in pdf form. Contains one page each for ISOM (2000) and ISSOM.

Capture the O Flag


Description of an orientering version of capture the flag exercise at Orienteering.ca.

"Ogres" game


Description of / instructions for the orienteering game Ogres (very similar to Capture the flag) at Orienteering.ca.

Vampire O


Description of Vampire O at Orienteering.ca. In Vampire O game, punches and punch cards are used and 'vampires' steal punch cards from orienteers (they then become the new vampire). 

Poker-O activity


Description of / instructions for a 'Poker-O' activity at Orienteering.ca with cards at each control that can be traded out. This version of the game has master maps at each control and is a map memory exercise but it can easily be done where each participant gets a map as well.