Renaming and revamping the Basic Navigation Course

Learn why the Seattle and Tacoma branch have changed the name of the Basic Navigation course to "Wilderness Navigation" in 2016
Peter Hendrickson Peter Hendrickson
October 20, 2015

You may have gotten a little confused lately browsing for Navigation courses on our website. The traditional "Basic Navigation" course has recently been renamed "Wilderness Navigation" by our Seattle and Tacoma branches. If you're a student or instructor trying to satisfy a Basic Navigation requirement, HAVE NO FEAR: you will still receive the same badge by taking the newly named Wilderness Navigation course.

We can hear you over there saying, "So why the name change then?!" We know it's confusing. Consistency in naming and terminology is extremely important to the function of our courses, and the decision to change the name of Basic Navigation was not taken lightly.

To put it simply, committee members deemed it time to give the traditional Basic Navigation course a bright and shiny makeover! Along with its new name, the Wilderness Navigation course curriculum has been revamped to keep pace with a rapidly evolving world of GPS and other navigation tools.  


In June of 2015, the Seattle Navigation Committee held a summit with three other branches to discuss new ideas and suggestions for the future of navigation tools, instruction, and standards. During that "summit", committee members from our navigation, climbing, scrambling, snow, and hiking/backpacking groups discussed several ways in which the traditional course could be revamped starting in 2016, including:

  • The Wilderness Navigation course will allot more time and emphasis on using altimeters, GPS, and other tools. While map-reading is the most important skill for outdoor travelers, the use of electronic and other devices in navigation is increasing. 

  • The Wilderness Navigation course curriculum will be geared towards those traveling off the trail- alpine climbers, scramblers, backpackers,and snowshoers for example.  On-trail hikers and other front country adventurers will get the preparation they need from the "Intro to Map and Compass,"  "Staying Found--On Trail Navigation" or other  courses.

To date, only the Seattle and Tacoma branches have changed the course name. Our other branches will continue to review and revise the content of their course and may decide to adapt this name change as well. For now, all branches honor the Basic Navigation badge as our standard navigation requirement which is awarded after completion of both Wilderness Navigation and/or Basic Navigation.


To get started, read about all of our navigation course offerings HERE and sign up for a course today!