Rercruiting helpers and a guide to their roles

Last updated: Thu 9 Dec 2021

First identify the number of helpers required, their roles and responsibilities remembering that two shifts will be required for some jobs, with a changeover at about 1130-1200, if helpers are to have a run themselves.


Approach helpers - don't wait to be contacted. Send out an e-mail to SOS groups and members not on the group list asking people to volunteer (a list of members with contact details is available from the Membership Secretary on request). This usually elicits some offers. Phone club members living close to the event area. Have specific tasks to assign and ask them whether they prefer to run first or afterwards. Put new or inexperienced helpers with an experienced hand.

Allow for emergencies and shortages by initially recruiting more helpers than actually required. These can be instructed to have an early run and fill in where needed.

Circulate the list of helpers and jobs at least one week before the event so that everybody will know before the day what time they are required, what they are doing and who they are working with!


Car parking

The number of helpers required depends on size of event and location. Car park officials hand out registration slips (one per entrant) and collect any parking fee requested by the landowner.

Think through the car parking. Visit the event site with a member of the team if it is not familiar. This is particularly important for a big event. Discuss with the Planner who will visit the site several times and can advise on current conditions. Difficult areas are where the optimum pattern for parking is not obvious and where thoughtless parking will waste space or cause bottlenecks. Forest roads, small country lanes and farmer's fields are difficult parking areas. Such areas usually require an organised team of 3 or 4 working to a clear plan

Consider wet weather contingency and overflow parking.

Are special arrangements needed for mini-buses/coaches?

Signposting - may need POLICE SLOW signs - ask them if you do. [Only for big events turning off busy roads.]


Usually 3 people are needed to collect and check registration slips, deal with hire SI cards, take money and hand out control descriptions and maps if a master map system is being used. It is essential that registration slips are completed fully. If information is missing, the competitor cannot be entered into the computer. A runner to take forms to the SI team is also needed. This can be a job for a younger junior.

For a large event such as an EAGAL you may need to have a separate position for the hire of SI cards and more than 2 registration points with particular courses allocated to each.

After the initial rush, the number of people on Registration can be reduced to allow people to run. It is best to have at least one relief to take over for the later stages.

Help Point

One person is needed for the Help Point to greet newcomers and help them through the complexities of registering and getting to the Start. They should be able to advise novices which courses are appropriate and give brief instructions on what the sport of orienteering is all about where necessary.

Membership information and beginners' help leaflets should be available.

This job can be combined with Registration later in the day.


With SI punching, two people should be sufficient to police the Start plus two reliefs unless separation of members of the same club or school has to be enforced in which case an additional person is required.

If you are short of helpers one person may be used after the initial rush at small events. Alternatively the starters can go through the Start at the end but most people do like to be relieved to give time to prepare for a run.

The main aim is to ensure that people do not start too close together, enforcing one minute between competitors on the same course. ESSOL and EAGAL have additional rules on separating competitors from the same school or club.

One helper is based at the back of the start grid to check dibbers have been cleared and feed competitors into the first grid box. The second helper is based on the start line to tell people when and how to start and, if necessary, point out where the maps and Start control are. A third helper is useful to talk novices through the procedure without inconveniencing other competitors and helping to separate competitors, using the EAGAL/ESSOL Start Form where extra rules apply.


With SI, it is not essential to man the Finish as long as there are clear signs about punching the Finish control. However, the banner and any tapes that are needed to funnel competitors into the Finish or direct them to Download still have to be set up. Also at ESSOL events and others likely to have a number of competitors unused to orienteering, it is probably advisable to have somebody there to congratulate people and to direct them to Download - which can be alongside the Finish or some distance away.

SI team

Two people plus reliefs should be sufficient. There are only 2 computers! One person acts as data entry clerk putting in information on competitors from the registration team and another person runs the download station. It is important to have at least one experienced person at any one time.

An additional general dogsbody to issue splits, return incomplete forms to Registration and read out forms to the data entry clerk is useful. This person should also be able to tackle queries from competitors to enable the computer operators to continue to process competitors.

String course

Optional but should be provided at a big event (Badge, EAGAL).


Your role is to ensure everything is set up on time and functions smoothly for the duration of the event.

The event can start only when the Controller is satisfied. He/she will check all controls are working and will visit Start / Finish / Download to make sure everything is ready.

Once the event has started there should be little for you to do. Make visits to Start / Finish / Download to check all is going as it should. Encourage your helpers. Sort out any queries promptly.

If there are problems, you are the first in-line! However, don't be afraid to consult and involve the Planner and Controller.