Navigation Maps & Compass Courses


HELD – Two Navigation Maps & Compass Courses

Scheduled this Fall 2017 in Halifax and Sydney (no pre-requisite required) and there is the Field Leader-Winter module in February (pre-requisite is Field Leader-Hiking). Learn more at

Navigation Maps & Compass Course: Sydney Sept. 30-Oct. 1, 2017

A Navigation Maps & Compass course will be offered in Sydney on September 30 and October 1. Participants receive Outdoor Council of Canada (OCC) national certification. The fee is only $125 ($115 for current paid Hike NS members) and offered through Hike Nova Scotia in partnership with the OCC and supported by the Nova Scotia Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage. ***Please note-Victoria County residents interested in this course, please visit our Leadership Development Assistance Fund 2017-18 in support to assist you to attend and get certified benefiting our residents and visitors. For more information, go to

Hike NS 2017-18 Courses and Workshops Happening Across Nova Scotia

Hike NS’s schedule of courses and workshops across Nova Scotia is now available for 2017-18

Beginning June 2017 through to February 2018, they range from how to share nature with children to how to be a hike leader to navigation

The specific offerings include:Re-Connecting with Nature Workshops; Field Leader – Hiking Courses; Field Leader – Winter Module; Field Leader – Overnight Module; Navigation Maps & Compass Courses; and WILD Connect Course. Dates, locations and costs vary, depending upon the course or workshop

Learn more and view the schedules at

Janet Barlow, Executive Director Hike Nova Scotia
(902) 932-6523


Fall (2016) & Winter (2017), Hike NS and the Outdoor Council of Canada delivered more courses to help you and others get outside. Learn more


November 19-20, 2016 in Coxheath

Become confident in using a map & compass for navigation. Earn Outdoor Council of Canada national certification. Cost is only $100 ($90 for current paid Hike NS members)

The course is offered through Hike Nova Scotia in partnership with the OCC and supported by the Nova Scotia Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage. For more information, go to

Spring 2016 Course Held April 9 & 10, 2016 A Success:

Instructor Minga O’Brien offered a Spring C0urse. This was her second offering (Fall 2015 & Spring: Apr 8 & 9, 2016) with Naturally Active for Life Victoria County and had lots of interest & great feedback on both offerings – a market definitely exists for this benefiting residents & visitors. Naturally Active Victoria County is a proud supporter.

Spring 2016 Course Testimonials:
I’m thankful to Minga O’Brien and the Victoria County Physical Activity Strategy for offering a free, two-day navigation course. My husband and older son attended, and enjoyed themselves immensely. Liam learned a lot about using a map and compass, and GPS – both useful skills that boosted his understanding of both geography and math. I’m glad Brooke and Liam had some time to learn and hang out together, and grateful that the County is supporting positive activities like this one” – Kate Oland (April 10, 2016)

awesome!” – Jane Maree

Great class!” – Mb Whitcomb (Participant)

Thank you!” – Eileen Woodford (Participant) – Apr. 11, 2016

Thanks Kate Oland, and thanks Vince Forrestall (Naturally Active for Life Victoria County) for making the navigation course possible. Happy to hear Brooke & Liam enjoyed it” – Minga O’Brien (Course Leader)

Taught a ‪#‎NavigationCourse‬ this past weekend in ‪#‎BigBaddeck‬
Thanks to Vince Forrestall & ‪#‎NaturallyActiveVictoriaCounty‬ for having me (‪#‎butternutconsultingcom‬) to teach the course. Covered topographical map reading, declination, geographic coordinate systems, and compass and GPS use. A lot of information to absorb in 2 days! Thanks to all the participants for being so keen and interested in learning” – Minga O’Brien, Leader, Instructor

Evaluations from Navigation Course Apr 9 & 10, 2016:



Did You Like the Course? 7 Yes, 0 No
Why? – Very well presented in a thorough step by step manner with a great balance of theory & practice; Answered many of my questions; Much better at GPS; Increased comfort level for use of equipment; Challenging from the get-go, Introduced to a great deal of new info and technology; Liked using map in field, exercise turned out ok, Minga very patient, pleased that I feel I can actually use it and be safer
Did you like the way the course was promoted? Yes 6 No 1
Why? – I heard about it in sufficient advance warning to plan it in; Very casual; Need more publicity
Do you like the way you registered for the course? Yes 6 No 1
Why? – Simple (2); I am not very good with computer; Problem getting waiver in before the course started
Did you like the way you were communicated with before the course? Yes 7 No 0
Why? – E-mail works for me; Well prepared for what to expect
Did you like the course materials received and equipment and were they relevant overall to the course? Yes 7 No 1
Why? – Course materials are a valuable addition to my files, everyone needs a gps; Map & compass I liked; But would have liked my own gps to work with – need more practical time; GPS Unit was very slow to process changes
Did you like the facility used? (Baddeck Forks Community Hall) Yes 7 No 1
Why? – Cosy, warm, tidy; Very lovely; Facility & location (2) were perfectly suited to the course, close to outdoor area; Comfortable with kitchen facilities
Did you like the natural environment used? Yes 7 No 0
Why? – Excellent, beautiful (2) area; Good combination of open & wooded terrain (2), good proximity, roadways, water courses; Great controlled space; Thanks so much-great opportunity & instructor; Gorgeous farmland and historic; Except for the swamp I got stuck in!
Did you like the way the course was instructed allowing you to navigate on your own upon completion of the course? Yes 4 No 0
Why? – I definitely feel more comfortable; Excellent instructor, enthusiastic yet patient, very good communicator; It had a logical projection
Did you like the course content increasing your knowledge and skill development of navigation? Yes 5 No 0
Why? – It truly did increase my knowledge & skill development; Very well structured from basic background to practical application of knowledge gained; The instructor followed a comfortable path of increasing complexity; More practice needed for all of it
What were your favorite activities of the course?
-Finding the hidden sites in the field with compass, gps; Going out and checking your skill with gps or compass to find the paper; Outdoor exercises
What were your least favorite activities of the course?
-The time factor limiting, getting all of my problems sorted out; Different learning styles; the swamp;
Would you attend a similar course? Yes 4 No 1
Why? – Very useful skill to have, could someday help, prevent avoid serious problem outdoors; It would let me build on my skills knowledge; See if accuracy can be improved; Will try to get some [ractice at home to become more familiar with finding my way in the woods
What improvements would you make?
-GPS’s are a bit dated; Own GPS (2) and maps for everyone; Better GPS Unit; 2 people per device makes it difficult to be fully involved in learning operation; 2 consecutive days hard for many people – split up time
What words would sum up this course?
Well done, interesting, stimulating, awakened to possibilities; Thanks; Great opportunity to understand maps and how to use them; A great basic introduction to navigation course that anyone considering or already spending time off the beaten trail should take.

General Information about Navigation Course

Spring 2016 Navigation Course took place April 9 & 10, 2016. It was taught out of the Baddeck Forks Community Hall, with navigation exercises on nearby lands.  The course involved lessons in topographical map reading, compass and GPS use.  It was open to 10 participants 16 years of age & older.

The times for the course were the following:

  • Saturday, April 9 from 8:30 am to 5 pm
  • Sunday, April 10 from 8:30 am to 5 pm

Participants must:

  • Have signed and submitted the waiver
  • Bring your own meals, snacks, water, beverages, etc. (there will be no time to go off-site for meals)
  • Bring a pencil, pen, paper, ruler, compass (if you have one), and calculator
  • The GPS lessons will use Garmin Etrex Legends. They will be provided. The instructor will provide lessons based on this model alone
  • Arrange your own accommodation.
  • Dress for the outdoors each day of the course. We will be heading outside repeatedly throughout the weekend, rain or shine. Remember, April is chilly, often wet and there may still be snow on the ground. You will also need good walking boots. The terrain is somewhat rugged in places, so you should be relatively fit to do this course
  • Bring bright orange or bright blue clothing (vest, hat, jacket, gloves, etc)
  • Bring a day pack for outdoor use, equipped with warm clothing, a water bottle, whistle, and first aid kit


Take Exit 9 off Highway 105, heading north (away from Baddeck). Continue for about 10 km, crossing 2 narrow one-way bridges. Just before the third bridge, the road turns sharply to the right and on your right you will see the Baddeck Forks Community Hall. It can also be found using Google Maps

Contact Info:

Your instructor is Minga O’Brien. She has taught navigation in several natural resource college programs, and is an experienced field biologist and forest technician. If you have any questions about registration, the course content, or how to prepare, please feel free to contact Minga at or 902-295-8241

For any questions about payment, please contact Vince Forrestall, Victoria County’s Physical Activity Coordinator (902-295-0387) or (

If you have registered for the course and decide not to attend, please let us know right away so we can contact people on our waiting list. You can call Minga (902-295-8241) or Vince (902-295-0387). We’re looking forward to seeing you at the course!


Naturally Active Victoria County in partnership with Victoria County CAP, Baddeck Academy and Butternut Consulting EcoSystem Research  offered a 2-day navigation November 14 &15 at Baddeck Forks. Participants received lessons in topographical map reading, compass and GPS use. Garmin Etrex GPS devices were made available from Victoria County CAP. Compasses made available by Baddeck Academy School.

Enrollment was limited to 10 people with the maximum participating.

The course was be taught by Minga O’Brien, a biologist and forest technician. She has taught navigation at colleges in Labrador and Nova Scotia, and has watched her student’s progress from being uncomfortable walking 50 meters into the woods to being adept at covering large distances in remote areas by reading maps, and using compasses and GPSs. Minga has carried out field work in many Canadian provinces, though she is most familiar with the landscapes and biodiversity of our home province. She has also explored various parts of the world, from hiking in the jungles in Southweast Asia and central America, to walking the high mountains of northern Spain, canoeing to Hudson Bay, kayaking Nova Scotia’s coastline, and back-country skiing in remote parts of British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, Quebec, Newfoundland, Labrador, Nova Scotia, and Vermont.

Navigation Course (Nov. 14/15, 2015) Testimonial:

Hi Minga – “Here is a photo of the group. Thanks so much for the informative weekend. You did a great job and I think everyone enjoyed it” – Thanks, David Quimby (Participant)

Navigation Course Fall 2015 A Success – Naturally Active Victoria County would like to thank Instructor Minga O’Brien and all participants on a job well done this past weekend Nov 14 & 15. Spring 2016 Session is full!

Testominials from Evaluations:

“Learned many helpful and useful skils that I would not have been able to learn on m y own; Absolutely – excellent material & Instructor-very informative & practical; Vince Forrestall was very helpful; Excellent was to navigate properly-great; This was a great course & presentation was well done-especially for beginners;

Vince was quick to respond – it was clear as to everything needed to do / bring-easy/well done; Minga O’Brien/great instructor/knowledgeable/good pace of teaching/if needed clarification Minga provided further instruction were both extremely helpful/everything useful; and quick to respond via e-mail/prompt to my inquiries and info was promptly sent;-well done-perfect;

Loved what we learned; We were given everything needed to exceed-wonderful; Great space (Facility) Comfortable-wonderful area to learn; It was great/perfect instruction, no complaints; Loved that we did mix of class work & work outdoors-cool to put into practice what you learned in class;

A great learning experience, 100%-I was not too knowledgeable on this topic, I feel much more prepared to go on a hike; Fun/Informative/useful; an absolutely excellent wonderful course/learning experience; very well done/useful; Would highly recommend. Empowering as a woman taught by a woman; lots of fun; Thank You.





Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s