These challenges provide Scouts with an opportunity to put their basic compass skills into action.
In accordance with their level of skill, patrols can stay intact while doing these activities. Pitting one patrol against another in a competition can also be lots of fun. If patrols are organized by age, dividing the troop into equally-skilled Scout teams can be a practical alternative.
“wide” = large indoor or outdoor setting for those activities requiring a greater amount of space
“small” = small area for those activities that do not require as much space, or can be carried out in close quarters, or with a smaller number of Scouts
“in” = indoor activity
“out” = outdoor activity
BLINDFOLD COMPASS WALK (wide, in or out) View Video
– Materials: for each of four patrols, a numbered stake, a compass, a large paper bag, and a large playing area or field
– Method: In the center of a large area, set each patrol’s stake in the ground about 10 feet apart. One Scout from each patrol stands at their patrol’s stake. A Scout from one patrol sets their compass between 20 and 80º; a Scout from another patrol, between 100 and 170º; a Scout from another patrol, between 190 and 260º; and a Scout from another patrol, between 280 and 350º. A paper bag is then placed over the head of each Scout, permitting them to see only the ground and the compass in their hand. Each Scout turns themself around three times, then follows the bearing on their compass for 50 steps. They then turn around and follow the bearing back (orienting the direction of travel arrow toward themself instead of away) for 45 steps.
– Scoring: Only Scouts within 5 steps of their stake, score.
– Variation: Line Scouts up a short distance apart facing the same bearing and carry out the same procedure.
COMPASS CHALLENGE ACTIVITY (wide, out)
100-foot cord clearly marked every five feet, two stakes, Two tent stakes or pegs, Compass and pencil for each participant, or pair of participants, printed score cards for each Scout or pair of Scouts
(refer to Compass Game Score Cards PDF, Answer Sheet PDF)
(1) In an open field with at least 150’x150’ of walkable area, stake down one end of the 100-foot cord about 25 feet in from the western end of the field. Stretch the string out due east from its western end and stake down the eastern end.
(2) Place a number (1 through 20) at each 5-foot mark on the cord.
(3) Each Scout figures out the length of their steps. Starting at one end of the 100-foot cord, have each walk to the other end and back, counting their steps. Dividing this number by 200 gives the length of their step. This is used to estimate distances
(4) Hand out three score cards to each Scout or pair of Scouts.
Scouts start at the numbered location along the 100-foot cord that is listed as the “Starting Point” on one of their score cards. Taking the bearing listed on their card, they follow it for the listed distance. They repeat this for the second and third legs of their trip which “should” find them back fairly close to some point on the 100-foot cord. Scouts write down the marker on the cord that is closest to their ending spot, and repeat the process for the second and third score cards.
When all Scouts are finished, read off the “Correct Destination” number for each “Starting Point” number. Scouts should write the number corresponding to their Starting Point in the “Correct Destination” field on their score card for all three of their trips. If a Scout or pair of Scouts ended at the correct destination, they receive 100 points. They lose 5 points for every number away from the correct destination they ended. For example, if the correct destination is 17 and they ended at 12, they would lose 25 points for a score of 75 points.
The Scout or pair of Scouts with the highest combined score of the three trips is the winner.
COMPASS FACING (small, in or out)
– Materials: one compass for each patrol
– Method: Patrols line up in parallel formation. First Scout steps forward with their compass. Leader will call out a bearing and those Scouts with the compass will then race to see who can face that bearing first. Each patrol member must go at least once.
– Scoring: Patrols score points each time one of their members is the first to face in the correct direction.
COMPASS POINTS (wide, in or out)
– Materials: for each patrol, eight Scout staves, arranged in star fashion on the ground all radiating from the center, one pointing due north
– Method: One Scout stands at the outer end of each stave, representing one of the eight principal points of the compass. The leader calls out any two points, such as southeast and north. The two Scouts standing at the corresponding staves immediately change places. When changing places, Scouts must not cross the staves, but must go outside the circle of players.
– Scoring: Points are scored by those patrols whose Scouts correctly change places. No points will be scored by a patrol if any Scout moves out of place without their point being named, moves to a wrong place, or even hesitates.
DIRECTION FACING (wide, in or out) View Video
– Method: One wall of the room is designated as north. Scouts line up facing north in open lines, separated an arm’s length apart on each side. On the signal, “Northeast—go!” all turn to face what they believe to be northeast, and on the command, “Freeze!” they stand motionless. Those who are facing in an incorrect direction are out of the game. Continue, each time selecting a different one of the compass directions: north, east, west, south, northeast, southeast, southwest, northwest.
– Scoring: Continue until one Scout is left (the troop direction “champion.”)
FLYING BLIND RELAY (wide, in or out)
– Materials: for each patrol a large paper grocery bag, compass, and a card with degree readings, one written at the top, one at the bottom
– Method: Form teams consisting of partner patrols. Have each patrol line up in relay formation in a position opposite from the other patrol on its team. The first Scout on each team is given the bag, the compass, and the card. The top degree reading on the card, if followed correctly, will lead them toward the other patrol on their team. On signal, they put the bag over their head and are turned around three times. They then use the compass and the top degree reading to find their way to the other patrol. There they give the materials to the first Scout in the other patrol, who repeats the method, using the lower degree reading (which is 180 degrees opposite from the top reading) on the card to find their way to the opposite position. Continue until the partner patrols have exchanged places. Note: If there are an uneven number of patrols, simply divide the troop into an even number of teams and pair them up.
– Scoring: The first team to finish wins.
THREE-LEG COMPASS WALK (wide, out)
– Materials: for each Scout, a compass, an individually wrapped piece of candy
– Method: In a large outdoor area, the piece of candy is placed on the ground. Standing where the candy lies, the Scout sets their compass at 360º, faces north, and walks for 50 paces following that bearing. Next, they set their compass for 120º, face that bearing and take another 50 paces. Finally, they set their compass for 240º, face that bearing, and again take 50 paces. When they’re done, if they’re five feet from the piece of candy, they can pick it up, put it in their pocket, or eat it.
– Note: ideally, the candy will be placed on grass or other terrain so the Scout can’t spot it until they’ve finished the last leg of the triangle.
– Variation 1: The Scout chooses their own bearings, adding 120º to the first and second as they go.
– Variation 2: Scouts complete the triangle wearing paper shopping bags over their heads.