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Orienteering Fort Steilacoom Park

Children, families come together for popular activity

Families can take a compass and track their way around Fort Steilacoom Park Sunday. Photo credit: Rebecca Jensen

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Cascade Orienteering and the City of Lakewood have joined forces to bring a quickly growing outdoor event to Fort Steilacoom Park for the first time this weekend. While the park hosts the JROTC National Championships this Sunday, March 6, Lakewood city officials will conduct an orienteering race of their own.

The idea of orienteering is well known to military personnel and is a widespread hobby and competition throughout Europe, but it is only now beginning to gain traction in the United States.

With this lack of familiarity in mind, Lakewood officials and Cascade Orienteering have created an event that that will be challenging and enjoyable no matter the experience level. Newcomers will be given training prior to the start of their event, which will take them on a one-mile trek through the park to locate different points throughout the race; those who have experience and do not need any additional training have their choice of a two- or three-mile race.

Sally Gilpin Martinez, Lakewood's recreation coordinator, said the city is working diligently to come up with innovative and exciting ways to engage families in local parks; this is an attempt to get children out from behind their screens and into the outdoors.

"I really love that this event also fulfills Boy Scout badge requirements," she said.

Participants are asked to bring their own compass if they choose to use one; the course, however, may be completed without the use of a compass. Organizers will provide maps at the start of the event. The mission is fairly straightforward: Given a map, a compass (optional) and your wits, find all checkpoints on a designated route in the fastest time.

Whether you choose to brave the park alone, with family, or as a team, the entry fee is just $15.  However, registration is required via Cascade Orienteering's website at

There are a limited number of spots for this first-time event. Expecting that it may sell out, Lakewood already has a second orienteering event planned for Summer Fest on July 9.

Expect Sunday's event to bring excitement, competition and outdoor fun to one of the greatest parks in Lakewood. While Boy Scout members will gain badges, and participants will be allowed to show their support of the JROTC National Championship competitors, families will get to learn new skills together and enjoy the outdoors. Take the opportunity to remove the distraction of your daily life and instead enjoy a great time with friends and family at Fort Steilacoom Park.

Orienteering and Training Race, March 6, 10 a.m., Fort Steilacoom Park, $15 per group or individual

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