You can learn a lot of things from books, but there's nothing like being alone in the wild to make you more independent and confident. And that's what orienteering is all about. Founded by Swedish scout leader Major Evnat Killander in 1918, the idea of orienteering is similar to taking part in a treasure hunt. Participants have to locate various 'control points' in unfamiliar territory by using maps and compasses. The one who gets back to base first is the winner. According to Barry Hung Fan-tai of the Orienteering Association of Hong Kong, there are two common types of orienteering competitions. The first is cross-country orienteering, in which participants begin their journey alone and visit the control points in a sequence along a predetermined route. The second is score orienteering. Contrary to cross-country orienteering, all participants start the game together, and the control points - which have different score values - are scattered across the competition area rather than being arranged along a route. There is a time limit for the participants, and the one with the highest score by the end of the game wins. Mr Hung, who has about 15 years of experience in orienteering, said one of the greatest things about the game was that it inspired courage in people. He recalled incidents of people who were afraid of cockroaches at home running fearlessly through the woods despite stepping into mud pools or having their faces covered with spider webs. 'You have to handle yourself independently in the wild. You have to face the difficulties of reading the map, determining whether you have got lost, picking yourself up, relocating yourself through the techniques and strength gained through training, and finding the safest or quickest path to the control points ... It is a comprehensive training for life,' said Mr Hung. Although all participants follow the same instructions, people will devise different pathways based on their personal strengths and weaknesses. 'You have to understand your own fitness level and emotions. You also have to handle your feelings and the actual situation separately,' explained Mr Hung. He said it was better to stick by a plan based on your strengths. However, difficulties always present themselves and require you to slow down and rethink your route if you get lost. 'It is impossible not to make mistakes in life. But experienced people relocate themselves quickly and will not let their life attitude be affected,' Mr Hung said. For more information about orienteering, call Orienteering Association of Hong Kong at 2504-8112 or visit www.oahk.org.hk .