Junior Camper Badge Activity


Practice Orienteering And Learn To Read A Compass

Use a map and compass. Learn to adjust a map according to the difference between true and magnetic north, take a compass bearing from a map and follow it, and sight an object, walk to it, and return to your starting point. 

Activity Details

Time needed: 15 minutes

Materials needed:

Setup: With a compass you can find your way anywhere in the world. Even though these days, you might use your cell phone, an app, or the GPS system in your car to get directions, you can accomplish the same thing with a compass. This handheld instrument indicates 360 different directional degrees, or bearings, in which you can travel. When you’re outdoors hiking or camping, if you know how to read a compass, you’ve mastered a smart survival skill that can take you down a nature trail, through a park, into and out of a forest—or even across your own backyard! You’ll need a compass to get started—and don’t forget to ask a parent, Girl Scout volunteer, troop leader, or trusted adult to help as you learn how to orient yourself, which means figuring out your location on planet Earth!

Activity: The most important thing is to learn the four basic directions found on a compass. Look at your compass and you’ll see these letters arranged around the edge of the compass housing in a circle: N stands for north. E stands for east. S stands for south. W stands for west. These directions are known as the cardinal points of a compass. If you can read a clock, you can read a compass—the directions, or cardinal points, are arranged on a compass the same way as the numbers on a clock. Here’s another way to remember them: North (N) is at 12 o’clock, east (E) is at 3 o’clock, south (S) is at 6 o’clock, and west (W) is at 9 o’clock. Remember these directions by thinking: “Never Eat Slimy Worms.”

Follow these tips!

  • To orient a compass to north, hold it level in front of your body and turn the compass housing until the N on the compass lines up with the red tip of the compass needle.
  • When using a compass, be careful not to hold it too close to anything that might have magnetic properties or the needle will point toward the object and not toward the north.
  • If you stand on your head, your compass needle will still point north. Hold the compass in your hand and practice turning your body so you’re standing in different directions.

Troop Leaders:  The instructions for all badge steps are available free of charge in your  Girl Scout Volunteer Toolkit.

Girl Scouts at Home activities have been adapted from existing Girl Scout programming and optimized for use at home during a period of social distancing.

Adapted from Step 2 of the Junior Camper badge. Purchase the Junior It’s Your Planet Badge Activity Set to complete all requirements and earn the badge