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Games In Observation

Thimble Finding (Indoors)

Send the Patrol out of the room. Take a thimble, ring, coin, bit of paper, or any small article, and place it where it is perfectly visible, but in a spot where it is not likely to be noticed. Let the Patrol come in and look for it. When one of the Scouts sees it, he should go and quietly sit down without indicating to the others where it is. After a fair time he should be told to point it out to those who have not succeeded in finding it.

Far and Near (For town or country)

Umpire goes along a given road or line of country with a Patrol in patrol formation. He carries a scoring card with the name of each Scout on it. Each Scout looks out for the details required, and, directly he notices one, he runs to the umpire and informs him or hands in the article, if it is an article he finds. The umpire enters a mark accordingly against his name. The Scout who gains most marks in the walk wins. Details like the following should be chosen, to develop the Scout's observation and to encourage him to look far and near, up and down. The details should be varied every time the game is played, and about eight or ten should be given at a time:

  • every match found - 1 point
  • every button found - 1 "
  • bird's tracks - 2 points
  • grey horse seen - 2 "
  • pigeon flying - 2 points
  • sparrow sitting - 1 point
  • ash-tree - 2 points
  • broken window - 1 point (and so on)

Shop Window (Outdoors in town)

Umpire takes a Patrol down a street past six shops and gives them half a minute at each shop. Then, after moving them to some distance off, he gives each boy a pencil and card, and tells him to write from memory what he noticed in, say, the third and fifth shops. The Scout who sets down most articles correctly wins. It is useful practice to match one boy against another in heats-the losers competing again, till you arrive at the worst. This gives the worst Scouts the most practice.

Room Observation (Indoors)

Send each Scout in turn into a room for half a minute. When he comes out, take down a list of furniture and articles which he has noticed. The boy who notices most wins. The simplest way of scoring is to make a list of the articles in the room on your scoring paper, with a column against them for marks for each Scout. The marks can then easily be totalled up.

Smugglers Over the Border

The "border" is a certain line of country about four hundred yards long, preferably a road or wide path or bit of sand, on which foot-tracks can easily be seen. One Patrol watches the border with sentries posted along this road; with a reserve posted farther inland, about half-way between the "border" and the "town". The "town" would be a base marked by a tree, building, or flags, about half a mile distant from the border. A hostile Patrol of smugglers assembles about half a mile on the other side of the border. They will all cross the border, in any formation they please, either singly or together or scattered, and make for the town, either walking or running, or at Scout Pace. Only one among them is supposed to be smuggling, and he wears tracking irons The sentries walk up and down their beat (they may not run till after the "alarm"), waiting for the tracks of the smuggler. Directly a sentry sees the track, he gives the alarm signal to the reserve and starts himself to follow up the track as fast as he can. The reserve thereupon co-operates with him and they all try to catch the smuggler before he can reach the town. Once within the boundary of the town he is safe and wins the game.

Old Spotty-Face

Prepare squares of cardboard divided into about a dozen or more small squares. Each Scout should take one, and should have a pencil and go off a few hundred yards. The leader then takes a large sheet of cardboard, with the same number of squares ruled on it of about three inch sides. The leader has a number of black paper discs, half an inch in diameter, and pins ready, and sticks about half a dozen on to his card, dotted about where he likes. He holds up his card so that it can be seen by the Scouts. They then gradually approach, and as they get within sight they mark their cards with the same pattern of spots. The one who does so at the farthest distance from the leader wins. Give five points for every spot correctly shown, deduct one point for every two inches nearer than the furthest man.

Scout's Nose (Indoors)

Prepare a number of paper bags, all alike, and put in each a different-smelling article, such as chopped onion in one, coffee in another, rose leaves, leather, aniseed, toilet soap, orange peel, etc. Put these packets in a row a couple of feet apart, and let each competitor walk down the line and have five seconds' sniff at each. At the end he" has one minute in which to write down or to state to the umpire the names of the different objects smelled, from memory, in their correct order.


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. 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 endeavour 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. 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 endeavour to "capture" them, unless he wishes to get killed himself.


Lord Baden-Powell of Gilwell (Chief Scout, London, UK)

Date of Creation


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