When we found out that Three Rock Orienteering Club were hosting a league event on Carrick mountain – practically in our garden – we had to go and check it out.

We’re no strangers to orienteering, we’ve designed plenty of fun courses ourselves for both children and adults, but it was mine and the boys’ first time at an official orienteering event. You can enter as an individual or as a family and with the league events, there are multiple levels to choose from, each varying in length, climb and navigational difficulty.

Choose a Yellow or Orange Course for Family Fun.

Orienteering Map
Working together

We chose the Orange Course, the second easiest, and one which you didn’t require a compass. That’s a whole other ballgame and lessons for a later date! At 3.3km and with 12 controls to find, we hoped the Orange Course would have just the right amount of difficulty for the boys.

We mostly took our time, teaching map reading skills along the way and chatting with other participants, but with guys and girls flying by through the bushes looking for their own controls, it was hard not to get caught up in the excitement of it all and run some stretches. The lads found it utterly exhilarating. Who wouldn’t? A treasure hunt in the woods!!

Officialdom can be Exciting!

Final Orienteering Control
The Final Flag. Photo credit: Finn van Gelderen.


The official starting clock and SI cards (SportIdent) attached to their fingers instead of using a control card really added to the boys’ enthusiasm and sense of occasion. At each control flag, instead of using the regular mini paper punch, (which looks kind of like a tiny red stapler), we inserted our SI card into a little digital gadget which beeped and recorded that we had visited that control. At the end, when we returned the SI cards to the registration desk, we each received a digital print out of our timing results. It was pretty cool.

Family Friendly Atmosphere.

Family Orienteering
Sprint Finish. Photo credit: Finn van Gelderen.

Aside from the fact that everyone was so helpful and welcoming, (and there were free chocolate biscuits), what I really liked about it was that you could start at whatever time suited you! From 10:30 right up to 13:30, so long as you were home dry by 15:30, it didn’t matter. So you could still have a lazy brunch and squeeze in a nice adventure! This also meant that even families with the littlest of kiddies could manage one of the easy courses with plenty of breaks and without time pressure. We even met a Dad out with his 3 year old!

Give it a try!

If you think this is something your family would enjoy, check out the Irish Orienteering Association’s website or follow the Irish Orienteering Association on Facebook to hear about upcoming events.

Alternatively, for a FREE introductory Treasure Hunt style orienteering game for young children, check out my post on Easy Orienteering for Young Children.


  1. Thanks for the lovely report about our orienteering event at Carrick last Sunday, Cindy: I planned the courses so I’m delighted that you enjoyed the day! The results are at http://www.orienteering.ie, with the courses and the runners’ routes on Routegadget.
    The next event in Leinster is on 14th May at Ballyward near Manor Kilbride.
    Best wishes from 3ROC