Come and Try events are a way of offering people a chance to try orienteering in a fun environment without the pressure found at the more serious competitive events.
Come and Try events should be designed with newcomers in mind. Make sure there are lots of club members on hand to make people feel welcome and explain how orienteering events work, give volunteers specific roles to help this work smoothly. These volunteers can also approach people who are there on the day for other reasons to encourage them to try orienteering.
Choose a local area that is easily accessible both by car and public transport. Parks are often the obvious choice and can also attract additional people on the day. Remember the key is engaging new people, they don’t know what good orienteering terrain is, the challenge for them is reading the map and completing the course.
Make sure registration and the start are easy to find from the car park or entrance to the park. British Orienteering provide signs that can be used to direct people. Ideally registration and the start are in the same place, at the very least you should be able to see the start from the registration desk.
Consider the courses you will offer. Newcomers will want to know how long a course is, approximately how long it will take them and a basic assessment of difficulty. Whether you colour code the courses or just use simple easy, medium and hard is up to you, the key is to ensure there are people on hand to explain. You might even offer to do a short course with someone until they feel comfortable reading the map. It’s important to not get too technical early but give people basic instructions, leave the more technical coaching until they have come a few times.
Although not always achievable the best events have toilets and refreshments on site.
Make sure you take new peoples contact details, it’s important to follow up a good experience by encouraging them to come to future events or a Club Night. Why not sign them up to a club Enewsletter?
The aim of Come and Try events is to engage new people, whilst it’s important to register the event on the British Orienteering website and include it on your own site most people won’t be actively looking for orienteering events. However if they find out about it in their local community they may want to give it a go, so think about how and where you can reach these people locally. Do not call a ‘Come and Try Orienteering’ event a ‘CATI’ – it is not understood outside of mainstream orienteering.
Publicity material for Come and Try events are available at an affordable rate through the British Orienteering Online Print Portal. We recommend you distribute the promotional material through the local County Sport Partnership (CSP) and School Sports Network through the help of your Sports Development Officer (SDO). For information on the roles of these people please see the Key Contacts page.
If your club are particularly targeting schools then CSP’s are the key to getting the publicity material out into the right people in the schools and can sometimes also help provide free advertising in local papers. The club might also be approached by your CSP to support delivery of School Games competitions, if you are able to support this it is a great opportunity to promote Come and Try Events and organising an event for just after the school competition is a great way to encourage transition from school to club.
You can’t beat a flyer for impact when it comes to promotional activity, why not target a couple of streets or estates close to the park with a leaflet drop.
Send a press release to the local newspapers, including free papers. Ideally you should ‘cultivate’ a good relationship with one of the reporters. Keep sending snippets of news, results etc each week and use these to advertise all the club activities. For information on press releases and the media please see the Generating PR page
Club Members could also help advertise the event through their work – a simple ‘all staff’ email is all it takes.
A ‘Come and Try Orienteering’ event is often a good way to promote a weekly club night to newcomers. Try to ensure the venue is close to the chosen weekly club venue for people to then progress into. Publicising the weekly club night at a local ‘Come and Try’ event will help to ensure the success of the club night as people can immediately associate it with the well organised and enjoyable event.
Not set up a Club NIght yet, find out how here.