The Scout Library, No. 4

Scouting Games

by Sir Robert S. S. Baden-Powell

Author of "Scouting for Boys," "Yarns for Boy Scouts,"
"Boy Scouts Beyond the Seas," etc.

Sixth Edition


    The training of the Boy Scouts is done mainly by means of games, practices and competitions such as interest them, and at the same time bring into use the attributes of manliness and good citizenship which we desire to inculcate into them.
    There is, therefore, an aim, physical or moral, underlying those which are given in the following pages. These games do not exhaust what it is possible to give; they are but samples or suggestions upon which imaginative Scoutmasters will easily contrive better ones and more of them, suited to their local conditions. But in devising these the higher aim should always be kept in view; that is the instructor should think of what points he wishes to teach. and then invent a game or display in which to bring them into practice. In playing these Games it should be remembered that they improve very much on the second and third trial, as minor rules have often to be introduced to suit local circumstances. A time limit should generally be imposed to bring them off successfully.
    Through these games, apart from their health - and joy giving properties, we can instill the sense of fair play, discipline, and self-control - in a word, good sportsmanship, among our future men. Then in addition to the games mentioned in this book we have adopted other activities in the Scout movement in the shape more particularly of swimming and climbing. These are for the fuller development of the boys morally as well as physically. Morally, because swimming gives a sense of mastery over one of the elements and of fitness for service to them as a result of exercising pluck and perseverance; and climbing similarly gives a sense of self-reliance and power through achievement in overcoming a difficult adventure.

    They are good physically, because both activities are the better agents for developing health and strength in that they are not artificial like " physical jerks," " setting-up drill," etc., but are natural and appeal to the boy so that he continues to practice them voluntarily in his spare time.

    In these days when so large a proportion of the manhood is physically unsound and incapable of 'any great strain of hard work, Scoutmasters are rendering a really valuable service to the nation in turning out a new generation of citizens healthier in body and mind than their predecessors. The games described in the previous editions have been carefully checked in the light of fuller experience, and improvements made.

R. S. S. B. P.

Table of Contents



This game is for two patrols, or a larger number divided into two parts, each under one Patrol-leader. Three flags (signalling flags will do) are posted within a given tract of country at about 20 yards apart. It rests upon the judgment of the leader of the defending party to choose the spot. He then posts his patrol not less than 200 yards from the flags, and the game begins. The attackers send out Scouts to discover (1) where the flags are, (2) where the outpost is placed. They then try and reach the flags and carry them off without being seen by the outpost. One Scout may not take away more than one flag. The defending patrol may not come within the 200 yards of the flags, and to capture one of the raiders they must have at least two Scouts within 10 yards of him, and call out "hands-up". At a signal given by one of the Patrol-leaders or an umpire, to show that time is up, all must stand up in their places, to see how near the raiders are, and the exact position of the outpost. It is a great point for the Patrol-leaders to keep their own patrols in touch. If they like the attackers can arrange a false alarm on one side, while a single Scout makes for the flags from the opposite direction and secures one. At night lanterns can be substituted for flags.


The game is played between two rival patrols, which for convenience we will name the Wolves and Peewits. From each patrol one Scout is selected as dispatch bearer. The Scoutmaster takes up a position at a certain spot, preferably in the middle of a wood, or if in a town at the junction of several streets, and the chosen Scouts start from opposite points about two miles distant from the Scoutmaster and attempt to reach him. It is the duty of the remainder of each patrol to try to prevent the rival dispatch carrier reaching his goal. Thus the Wolves will watch the stretch of country over which the chosen Peewit is likely to come, and as the winning patrol is decided by the first dispatch carrier to reach the Scoutmaster, the Wolves will do all they can to capture the Peewit and secure the dispatch. The Peewits in their turn will naturally try and effect the same result. When the carrier has his dispatch captured he must not of course continue. The patrols must keep 200 yards away from the starting and finishing point, thus giving the dispatch-bearer a better chance of reaching the Scout- master. To be captured, the dispatch-bearer must be actually held by one of the defenders, though no fighting is allowed.


A Scout is chosen to carry a dispatch to a besieged place which may be a real village or house, or somebody stationed at an appointed spot. The dispatch-runner must wear a, colored rag, at least two feet long, pinned to his shoulder, and with this in its proper place he must reach his goal. The enemy besieging the place must prevent him reaching the headquarters, but cannot, of course, go within the lines of the supposed defenders (i.e. within 300 yards of the headquarters-certain boundaries should be decided upon beforehand). To catch him the enemy must take the rag from his shoulder. They know he starts from a certain direction at a certain time, the spot should be a mile or so from the besieged town-and they may take any steps to capture him they like, except that they may not actually witness his departure from the starting-place. The game may be played in a town with two houses chosen as starting-place and besieged town respectively, and the dispatch-runner can adopt any disguise (except that of a woman), so long as he wears the rag pinned to his shoulder.


This is a test in map-reading and remembering the map read. The Scoutmaster or Patrol-leader in command takes his patrol into a strange town or an intricate part of the country and through them he wishes to find out particulars about the neighborhood; so he shows the Scouts a map of the district and appoints to each a place to be visited, showing the route on the map, and pointing out churches, inns, etc., to be noted on the way. Each Scout should have a fixed distance to go and a certain number of points to be noted. Then they start off, and as they return the Scoutmaster or Patrol-leader takes down their reports. The winner is the Scout who brings in the best report in the shortest time.


One patrol is pitted against another to see who can get a message sent a long distance in the shortest time by means of relays of runners (or cyclists). The patrol is ordered out to send in three successive notes to be obtained from a certain house, or tokens such as sprigs of certain plants, from a place say two miles distant, or further if the patrols are on cycles. The leader takes his patrol out and drops Scouts at convenient distances, who will act as runners from one post to the next, and then back again for the second note or token. The runners should be started at certain intervals. By arranging with neighboring Scoutmasters long distance relay practices can be carried out, for a hundred miles or more. Each Scoutmaster or Patrol - leader should be responsible for forwarding the message through his own district by relays of Scouts on cycles. An example of this was given at the Jamboree, when despatches were carried to Olympia by relays of Scouts from places more than 100 miles away. An interesting series of records could be set up, and districts compete with one another in carrying messages over fixed distances of road. The times could be published In the Scout.


For any number of patrols to compete. A force is in need of help, and a military motorist on his way to the nearest garrison comes across a Scouts' camp. He gives to each Patrol-leader a hasty idea of the situation and shows him a rough map explaining that the distressed force is two miles along a certain road, and between the Scouts' camp and that force are the enemy's out- posts. The Patrol-leaders are to take their patrols in the shortest time to the force in distress without being seen by the enemy. The distressed force should be represented by any conspicuous spot, and the enemy's outposts by people with red flags stationed on the road between the Scouts' camp and the other force. As soon as they see any of the patrols they should blow a whistle, and those scouts are to be considered captured (or else they may notice to which patrol the Scouts they have seen belong and count it against them). The patrol which gets to the distressed force in the shortest time, and without any of its Scouts being seen wins.


This game is admirable for training the eyesight and teaching the art of advancing under cover. Every Scout has a three figure number, pinned on the front of his hat. The number should be drawn in black and be quite decipherable at a distance of a hundred yards (the figures at least 3 in. in height). The troop is then divided up in the following manner: Two or three patrols are marched 300 yards from the camp, and instructed to advance on the camp under cover. As the work of defending is easier than attacking, only one patrol remains in camp to defend it. When the attacking party advance, their movements are watched eagerly by the defenders, who, having chosen good cover so that their hats are not visible, are waiting for the enemy to get within range. So long as the number is too indistinct to read, they are supposed to be out of range. The nearer the attackers approach, the more careful are they not to look over the top of a bush long enough for the defenders to read their number. Of course a good ;Scout looks round the side, and not over the top of a bush or rock ; and if he looks at all in this game he must be very sharp, for no hats may be removed or turned round and no hands used to conceal the number. If the defenders are able to read the numbers they call them out and the umpire writes them down. The attackers also call out the numbers of any defenders who expose themselves, and the umpire attached to the attacking party makes a note of these numbers. When only 50 yards separate the two parties the umpires call out the names of those who are shot, and those boys ,must not take any part in the rest of the fight. When the commander of the attackers considers that he has advanced as near as he can under cover, he gives, the order "charge " and the attacking party sweep over the open space in front of the camp the defenders call out the numbers as fast as they can read them. If the attackers reach the camp with more men than survive in the defending side, then they have won. But if the final charge enables the defense to pick off nearly all their enemies the camp is saved.


As soon as a camp has been pitched the first thing to be done is to find out about the country round; and this makes an excellent subject for a patrol competition. Each Patrol-leader is served out with a sheet of paper upon which to make a sketch map of the country for perhaps two miles round; he then sends out his Scouts in all directions to survey and bring back a report of every important feature-roads, railways, streams, etc.-choosing the best Scouts for the more difficult directions. The patrol whose leader brings to the commandant the best map in the shortest time wins. The Patrol-leaders must make their maps entirely from the reports of their own Scouts.


This game can be played with equal success in either the country or town. Single Scouts, or complete patrols or pairs of Scouts, to be taken out about two miles apart, and made to work towards each other, either alongside a road, or by giving each side a landmark to work to, such am a steep hill or big tree. The patrol which first sees the other wins. This is signified by the Patrol-leader holding up his patrol flag for the umpire to see, and sounding his whistle. A patrol need not keep together, but that patrol wins which first holds out its flag, so it is well for the Scouts to be in touch with their Patrol- leaders by signal, voice or message. Scouts may employ any ruse they like, such as climbing into trees, hiding in carts, and so on, but they must not dress up in disguise. When a troop is meeting for any purpose it is a good practice to arrange that on nearing the place of assembly each patrol should try to be the first to see the others.


An invading army always tries to destroy all communication in the invaded country, so the first thing to be destroyed is the telegraph system-and the defenders send out men to protect the wires. Choose a road with telegraph wires, and one which has good cover on either side. The defenders should have two patrols to the attacker's one, and only that amount of ground which will allow one defender to each telegraph post should be protected. The defenders need not necessarily keep to the road but may send out Scouts to discover where the enemy are in force and likely to attack. The attackers have to tie three scarves round a post (or double that number if there are two patrols attacking) before the line is broken. The defenders can put them out of action by merely touching, but if the defenders are less in number at any point they must retreat until reinforcements arrive. So the point of the game is for the defenders to keep in touch along the line, and be ready to bring up a relieving party immediately the enemy threaten to attack any spot.


The troop must be divided up into three parties or patrols, as follows: A. Patrol, B. Patrol and C. Patrol. A. Patrol will be the smallest, but must all be good signallers, and c. Patrol the largest. First, the A. Patrol goes out and takes a position on high ground, or up in a church steeple, or the roof of a house, so as to command a good view of a certain stretch of country. This patrol will take Morse or Semaphore flags, or other signalling apparatus. The B. Patrol will go out and keep under cover in this certain stretch of country overlooked by the signallers or A. Patrol. On going out the B. Patrol will endeavor to keep under cover and dodge or trick the signallers by appearing in different places and disappearing and will finally take up a concealed position. After B. Patrol has been out fifteen minutes, C. Patrol will advance; then the signallers will signal down to the C. Patrol, or attackers, the position of the hostile B. Patrol, and other details that will help the patrol to advance unseen and surprise the enemy or B. Patrol. To win, the C. Patrol must capture the Scouts of the B. Patrol by surrounding their hiding-places. If the C. Patrol pass by more Scouts of the B. Patrol than they capture, it counts a win for the hostile B. Patrol. A time-limit of, say, two hours should be put upon the game.


The best situation for this game is a wood or copse, but it can be played on other ground if necessary. The idea is this: The troop is divided into halves; one half camps one side of the wood and one half the other. These halves are called respectively "French" and "Prussians." In the Prussian camp is a traitor who has made an agreement with the French that he will place a letter containing important information of Prussian plans in a tree which he will mark in a certain way. This tree should be near the center of the wood. When the game commences, the "traitor" places the letter in the tree and retires again to his own camp. His perfidy is supposed to have been discovered during his absence, and on his arrival he is arrested. He refuses to divulge the hiding-place of the letter. He is sentenced to be shot, which sentence is supposed to be carried out, and henceforth he takes the part of onlooker. At a given signal from the umpire, the Prussians set out to recover their letter, and try to prevent the French obtaining it, while the French simultaneously leave their camp intent on obtaining the letter, and watching the Prussians. Each Scout is armed with a tennis-ball or with fir-cones if they are to be found. The "traitor" should be careful when hiding the letter to snap a twig or two, and leave an impression of his boot here and there, in order to give the Prussians a chance of finding the letter. The French, of course, have to look for a tree marked in a particular way. When two opponents meet, the one first hit by a ball or fir-cone will be "out of action," and the Scout so hit is on his honor to take no further part in the game. One mark counts against the French or Prussians for every man out of action. Four marks count to the side who obtains possession of the letter. The side whose marks total most are the winners.


The troop should be divided into four equal sections (if it consists of four patrols, so much the better). Patrol No. 1 proceeds to an agreed spot perhaps a mile distant, while Patrol No. 2 is dispatched an equal distance in exactly the opposite direction, the rest of the troop (Patrols 3 and 4) remain at the base as a united force. The game now begins:- Patrols I and 2 represent allied armies each at warfare with the force lying between them, namely, the united Patrols 3 and 4. The supreme object of the allies is to effect a junction of their forces without coming into contact with the enemy, who outnumber either force by two to one. Accordingly they send out Scouts and dispatch-runners to ascertain the position of the enemy, and also to get into touch with their friends. If they are successful in evading their mutual enemy, and in joining up their full forces, then they are considered winners. On the other hand, the whole duty of the combined patrols is to prevent this junction from taking place by hindering all attempts at communication, and, if possible, by surrounding or ambushing one or other of the allies, and by capturing them, making a union impossible. If they succeed in preventing a junction until the time limit has expired they claim the victory.


A bit of country or section of the town about a mile square is selected as the web, and its boundaries described, and an hour is fixed at which operations are to cease. One patrol (or half-patrol) is the " spider," which goes out and selects a place to hide itself. The other patrol (or half-patrol) goes a quarter of an hour later as the " fly " to look for the " spider." They can spread themselves about as they like, but must tell their leader anything they discover. An umpire goes with each party. If within the given time (say about two hours) the fly has not discovered the spider, the spider wins. The spiders write down the names of any of the fly patrol that they may see ; similarly the flies write down the names of any spiders that they may see, and their exact hiding-place. Marks will be awarded by the umpires for each such report. The two sides should wear different colors, or be distinguishable from each other in some manner.


A certain bit of country is chosen, the side of a hill if possible, about five miles across each way (it should be much less if you are only out for a few hours) ; the boundaries of the ground have to be clearly under- stood by everybody before starting. Then, in the early morning, four boys go out to act as hares. They can go together or separately, wherever they please, and though they may hide whenever they like, they should, as a rule, keep moving from one part of the ground to another. Each hare wears a red sash across his shoulder. An hour after the hares have started, the rest of the party, generally numbering sixteen, go out as hunters to find them. The hunters can go all together, or singly, or in pairs-any way they please ; but as a rule, the best fun is for the hares to go singly and the hunters in pairs. It is well for the hunters to wear a colored sash across their shoulders - Grey, yellow or blue-so that they can be distinguished from ordinary country people moving about the ground. Thus the game is for the hunters to go looking about till they see a hare, and then they run after him and try to catch him. They only catch him when they touch him. This all gives excellent practice to both hunters and hares in hiding, stalking, tracking, and getting across country, and is a most exciting game. Towards the evening the game ends, and all make their way home.


Start off your Scouts, either cycling or on foot, to go In any direction they like, to get a specimen of any ordered plant, say a sprig of yew, a shoot of ilex, a horseshoe mark from a chestnut tree, a briar rose, or something of that kind. Choose one that will tax their knowledge of plants and will test their memory as to where they noticed one of the kind required. Quickness should be encouraged by making the first successful Scout who arrives home winner of the game.


Here is the description of a capital game which can be played in an open field where there is no cover. A number of Scouts are blindfolded and placed in a line at one end of the field. Then a Scoutmaster or Patrol-leader goes to the other end, and blows his whistle every now a-ad then. The business of the blindfolded Scouts Is to reach the whistle-blower and touch him. The latter may stoop down, but be must not move about As soon as a Scout touches the person with the whistle, he slips off his scarf and is out of the game. The whistle-holder should see that no boys run into hedges or ditches; if he notices any of them straying, he must blow his whistle and so attract their attention in the right direction. Points are awarded in accordance with the order in which the Scouts reach the whistle-holder, the highest points, of course, going to the one who first reaches his destination.


Here is a Scouting game which Patrol-leaders will find useful when engaged in patrol work, apart from the rest of the troop.

Each Scout in the patrol has a round disc of white cardboard, with a number printed plainly upon- it, pinned on to the back of his shirt or sweater. One member of the patrol is then chosen as the " fugitive," while the rest act as hunters. The " fugitive," who wears tracking-irons, or leaves some kind of trail behind him, is given, say, 'ten minutes' start. The rest of the patrol then start out and endeavor to track him down. As soon as a " hunter " can get near enough to the fugitive," without being seen, to take down his number, the latter is caught. But if the " fugitive " can, by any means, turn the tables and get any of his pursuers' numbers, the latter are out of action. As soon as a number is taken down, the Scout who takes it must call it out, to let his captive know he is out of action. This game necessitates some careful stalking, and there is no " horse-play " in the shape of ankle-tapping. A sharp Scout in the patrol should be chosen for the fugitive," as he has not only to elude perhaps six or seven pursuers, but he must also endeavor to " capture them, unless he wishes to get killed himself.

19. TAILS.

When engaged in scouting games, many troops make use of " ankle-tapping " with staves to decide the issue of the day. This is a very exciting mode of attack and defense, but at the same time is rather dangerous, and does not need much actual scouting work. A far better way of deciding which side is victorious is as follows. Scouts- on both sides wear their scarves tucked lightly in their belts, and the object of each ride is to capture as many of these 11 tails " as possible. To creep up behind a hostile Scout and grab his " tail before he discovers you, calls for far more caution and scouting than does ordinary ankle-tapping. Again, a Scout may suddenly discover that his own tail is missing just as he is going to capture an enemy's, which all adds to the fun of the game. Of course, if desired, colored pieces of cloth or handkerchiefs can be used instead of the Scout scarves.


This game will be found excellent practice in learning the points of the compass.

Eight staves are arranged in star fashion on the ground all radiating from the center. One staff should point due North. One Scout now takes up his position at the outer end of each staff, and represents one of the eight principal points of the compass. The Scoutmaster now calls out any two points, such as SE and N., and the two Scouts concerned must immediately change places. Any one moving out of place without his point being named, or moving to a wrong place or even hesitating, should lose a mark. When changing places, Scouts must not cross the staves, but must go outside the circle of players. when three marks have been lost the Scout should fall out. As the game goes on blank spaces will occur. These will make it slightly more difficult for the remaining boys. To make the game more difficult sixteen points may be used instead of eight. When played indoors the lines of the compass may be drawn in chalk on the floor.


This game is played in the same way as an ordinary paper chase, except that the hares are provided with a number of small circular gummed labels, such as are used by shopkeepers for marking the price on goods. Every time trail is dropped not more than two labels should be dropped with it. As soon as the trail is picked up by a hound, he blows his whistle. The other hounds immediately proceed to the spot and search for the two labels. When found they should be tuck on to the finder's staff, and at the end of the chase the Scout with the most labels wins. This tends to keep up the interest of the smaller Scouts who otherwise would soon be inclined to lag behind.


For this game a base is marked out, usually by a circle of trees with scarves attached, on fairly level ground free from stumps and loose stones. The next ring of trees encircling this base is the Defense Line, which is explained later. The party is divided into two sides, stormers and defenders, in alternate games, which may last from ten to twenty minutes each. The defenders remain in the base while the stormers retire out of sight. As soon as they have taken up their positions, the umpire blows his whistle three times and the attack commences; the defenders leaving the base and sending Scouts well forward to obtain all possible information of the enemy's movements. The object of the stormers is to get as many men as possible into the base, untouched by the defenders before the umpire's whistle finishes the game. Each man gaining the base untouched scores a point in favor of the stormers; he should sit down well within the base line in order not to obstruct his own side. No stormer may be touched so long as he has one hand on the trunk of a tree, and should he be unduly crowded by the defenders he may order them "One Tree Away." A tree affords protection to only one stormer at a time and may not be held by a defender. If a stormer is touched he must at once proceed to the Prisoners' Camp near the base, where he can watch the game and be out of the way of the combatants. When the game has started no defender may enter tho Defense Line mentioned above except in actual pursuit of a stormer; on missing or touching him he must at once go outside again before attempting to tackle another. Patrol flags tied to small sticks (not poles) may be borne by some of the stormers, and a stormer who carries his, flag into the base may demand the release of a prisoner.

23. WHAT IS IT ?

Two Scouts (preferably ones with the Naturalist Badge) start out and make certain signs such as a number, word, sketch of animal or bird, etc., with chalk on trees or the pavement. Signs or sketches may also be made in the dust or mud, on the ground or on banks. The two Scouts should also decide upon an uncommon sign to signify "What is it ?" such as a circle with a line drawn through it Pieces of wood bearing this sign may be taken out and stuck in plants and places where it is impossible to chalk the sign. The remainder of the troop start out say ten minutes after the first two, either as a body or separately, and take notebooks and pencils with them. The game consists of entering in their notebooks the signs which they observe. Where the "What is it ?" sign is noticed they must mark in their books the nature of the article which bears the sign, such as "An Oak," or "An Iron Fence," etc. There must be no co-operation between one another. Marks should be given according to the number of signs, etc., observed, and for the correct answers to the " What is it ? " sign. Besides being very interesting this game develops observation powers, strengthens the memory and is a good botany instruction. When the game is over all chalk marks should be rubbed out, and care must be taken not to deface private property.


The Scoutmaster goes for a walk in the country a day or two before this game is played, taking with him a supply of plain postcards. On each card he writes a short description of various places he passes, such as "Wooden bridge over stream with three willows near," or "White five-barred gate near ruined cottage." On the day the game is played these cards are distributed among the Scouts, who are allowed a certain time, according to local conditions, to discover the places described on their cards and report to the Scoutmaster, who remains at the starting-point all the time. The Scout who returns first wins the game. 

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