Understanding maps and navigation is essential for outdoor exploration. When we know our surroundings, we can enjoy them the most and discover beauty in all of the details that make up our environment. Plus, mapping as its own activity is fun for all ages.
Start the week with paper maps. We love digital maps as much as anybody but feel that the best navigation education begins when you unfold and explore a map of your local area (these are easy to find and usually free at your local parks department or chamber of commerce). Gather maps of familiar places and study them to learn about scale, distance, and compass navigation. Find familiar streams, rivers, parks, and trails. Explore different types of maps—road maps, trail maps, contour maps—and become familiar with the symbols and features. Next, use a map of a less-familiar local area to practice using your new map reading skills. When you learn how to read a map, you unlock endless adventure opportunities.