Leslie's Guide Programme Ideas

Ideas and inspiration for Girl Guide Leaders

Wide Games

My Guides love wide games, so on this page I'll be posting some of the ones we've done, and some we'd love to do if we ever get the right site for doing it!

There are 4 basic formats around which almost all wide games are based, and no matter how much they are 'dressed up' with themes, plotlines and scenarios, any wide game is sure to originate with one of these 4 basic formats! 

Therefore, it is really important that you do 'dress up' your wide game - always give it a plot, a theme, a purpose of some kind - don't let it just seem like running around for the sake of it (even if, in a sense, it is) or all the older Guides (and some of the younger ones too) will see straight through it.  If it is being done at a camp or holiday then the theme or location of the event should inspire your wide game - it may be a historical event which happened at that location - festivals, national events, or anniversaries, will give ideas too.  There are books of wide games available, and ideas published online, which can give inspiration for plans to use or adapt to fit your purpose - but they will need to be adapted, and some more so than others - for they have to be shaped to suit your location, your players, their age group, their abilities/skills, the weather and time of year, the presence/absence of daylight, the staff you have available etc - which are bound not to be an identical match for the set-up the author envisaged.  So, the 4 basic types of wide game are:

Treasure Hunt: Participants follow a series of clues which lead them from place to place, until they reach the end of the trail where they discover the 'treasure'. 

There may be activities to do at each clue/stopping point, the clues may be straightforward or in code/puzzle form, and participants may not necessarily all start at the same place, or be set off at the same time (although they would normally follow the same route in the end, perhaps by means of a 'round robin' route, so they get to do all of the activities, perhaps by one group going clockwise and the other anti-clockwise, perhaps by a staggered start).  It can involve collecting components at certain locations to be used in an end-task - ingredients for a recipe they then make, parts of a stove such as a trangia to collect and then at the end assemble to cook their dinner on, or jigsaw pieces which will be put together to produce a picture or map which gives the final prize's location.  It can be an incident hike where, whilst following a provided route, the groups will 'happen to come across' carefully planned challenges or situations, and will be judged on how they react to and deal with them (or indeed, whether they just ignore the potential good turns and carry on straight past them!). 

Often, the difficulty lies in setting up the hunt in such a way that a trail which took you 30 minutes or more to lay out - isn't completed in 5 minutes or so by the fastest runners just sprinting from clue to clue, while the rest of the Guides all trail boredly behind knowing fine well that hurrying makes no difference as the next clue will have long since been found regardless.  Hence, it's wise to either have tasks at each stopping point which the group have to tackle all together before moving on, or puzzle clues to be worked out so that the Guides have to spend a little time at each key location, they can't just 'read and run' - it makes it more fun for them too, they enjoy working out secret codes, or revealing invisible ink (and codes also cut down the risk of unwanted outside interference with the trail you've laid if you are playing in a public area). 

Or you can have tasks to carry out at each location - these can be simple tasks like throwing quoits over markers, re-arranging an anagram, loading and firing a 'film canister rocket', making up a group limerick or rap, lighting a hike fire and cooking a piece of spaghetti until they can tie a reef knot in it - or whatever else suits your purpose or fits within the confines of your imagination!

Where groups are collecting clues or equipment, it's important that all the players are quite clear about exactly what and how much they are meant to take, and what they should leave for any following groups (so the first group round doesn't pick up all 4 bags of flour and the following groups waste time in fruitless searching for their bag, or girls collect all the cards for their team where you intended them to carry one at a time and have to make several return trips) - and it can be helpful if the last group round know they should remove everything from each location, unless it suits you better to have a Leader go round and tidy up.  This can also be managed by labelling or colour coding items for each group.

With incident hikes in particular, it's really important to ensure that the way the Guides deal with the problems you have set won't cause disruption to the emergency services or the public, especially as, in normal life, their first step would normally be to contact the emergency services or ask bystanders for help.  For instance, we don't want Guides actually using their mobiles to call out ambulances over our 'casualty' with fake wounds, or stopping police officers to get their help in dealing with the 'escaped spy', with the risk of inadvertently sparking a major incident alarm or wasting the time of the emergency services . . . nor do we want the risk of members of the public coming across the apparently badly injured casualty before the Guides can get there, and either being frightened or rushing in to try to help!  On the other hand - a local community police officer or off-duty paramedic might be very happy to help out with a larger scale event if approached in good time and consulted about the idea and it's set-up, as an opportunity for them to meet local teenagers and have a chance to demonstrate to them that they are approachable and want to be their friends.  You could also approach other groups such as Scouts to help with the setting up or staffing of incidents for wide games, especially if the Guides were willing to reciprocate for Scout wide games. 

If you have participants collecting up particular objects, it may be best for these to be located on private ground or in the gardens of specially-primed friends of yours, so that the objects are not likely to 'walk' between being laid out and being collected, and so you control just where the Guides go, to avoid the risk of trespassing (and it means you can have the Guides discretely supervised at intervals along the route if you wish!).

Stalking: Though the term itself has unfortunate connotations nowadays, in this case we're talking about practicing the skills of stalking for the relatively innocent purposes of observing, sketching or photographing wildlife, and more importantly, of developing the physical self-control needed to get near enough to observe said wildlife within suitable range to be able to take a photo.  In a stalking wide game, teams are trying to get from where they are, to a particular location, without being spotted or captured in some way by those protecting the destination.

This provides all sorts of exciting options for spy, border post or detective scenarios.  It can incorporate several teams of 'attackers' each trying to sneak up on (or past) one team of 'defenders' - or it can be that each team is trying to both defend their own allocated patch of ground, and at the same time annex new territory or equipment from the rivals.

With a stalking game, it is best to have a system of 'lives' so that someone who is spotted or caught fairly early on can get to rejoin the game later (perhaps with a modest penalty of some sort such as having to take a 5-minute time out, or a point being credited to the catcher) rather than have them spend the whole rest of the game sitting out bored - often those caught early are the ones who would benefit from getting extra practice at stalking anyway.  'Lives' can be done through systems such as having players wear 'tails' tucked in at the back of the waistband or belt, or coloured wool armbands - anyone caught must hand over their tail or armband to their opponent and has to collect a replacement from the Leader back at base before they can rejoin - any opposition tails/armbands collected can count towards a team's final score in the game.  Another option is for each player to wear a label with an individual code of letters or numbers, pinned onto clothing or worn on the forehead and held in place by a sweatband - so the 'guards' have to get near enough to be able to see and note down the code, as proof that the person was definitely spotted.  The game definitely has to be played in a location which provides suitable 'cover' - woodland which has plenty of densely-packed trees, scrubland which has long grass and bushes - and locations where there are lots of side-paths and trails which can be used to dodge around or hide from the 'guards' - not just one main path you have to go along, with lots of open country, which makes it too easy for the defenders.  Where these labels are used it may be wise to have some adults patrolling, to make sure that the labels are kept in view during the game . . .

Postal Game: This is a game where participants (as a team, individuals or potentially a bit of both) are trying to transfer quantities of items, one at a time, from one location to another without being caught.  Usually, there would be agents tasked with obtaining the objects which are being transferred, with anyone who is caught having to hand over any 'mail' they are carrying, but then free to go back and collect a fresh item from the 'depot' to try again. 

Generally, it's best if these 'agents' are Guiders or Young Leaders (or the agents are supervised to some extent), as Leaders are better able to judge how to make a 'fair' challenge, (and can judge when to look the other way while someone sneaks past 'not quite quietly enough' to go unnoticed), especially in an area where cover is limited!  A common option for a 'challenge' is to ask a question on Guide knowledge the girls ought to have, where those who manage to answer the question are free to carry on unhindered, but those who can't must hand over what they are carrying then go back to the depot to try again - or if you want to test memory skills they could have a message to recite accurately.  Winning team is the one which transfers successfully the largest number of 'posts' - either in total, or calculated in proportion to their number of players on the team if the numbers playing are uneven.  As a variation, you can make a limited number of posts worth different values, so teams have to judge who should carry the more valuable ones and when, or can think about using decoys, or sacrificing some players . . . or you could even allocate different values secretly, so teams aren't aware until the end that it wasn't a straightforward one-point-per-post as they had blithely assumed it would be . . . Postal games do have to be played in an area where there is enough cover, or enough choice of realistic-length routes between the depot and the destination, that sneaking through without being caught is possible, and the duration of the game and the size of playing area has to be balanced so that there is the potential for the players to make several trips during the game, but no risk of the supply of posts running short before the scheduled end of the game . . .

Scavenger Hunt: A scavenger hunt is where a group is challenged to collect up a list of certain objects, or pieces of information, and bring them back to base.  Traditionally this would be physically collecting up the objects and bringing them back to the home base (e.g. collect a natural object starting with each letter of your Patrol's name) or collecting factual information from particular scattered locations (e.g. going to different locations to find the answers to questions from the information provided on signs, plaques, notices and the like), or taking photographs of certain objects.  For younger children, it could be numbered cards for each team which had been scattered in a particular area (in which case you might require them to bring the cards back in number order, which helps to prolong the time it takes). 

When setting up a scavenger hunt which involves physically collecting objects, it's important to assess the availability - if you have 4 or 5 groups all collecting an acorn, are there definitely so many acorns on the ground that everyone who manages to find the right sort of tree is guaranteed to find an acorn without difficulty - or might they cause damage to the tree in trying to pull down branches to pick acorns whilst ignoring those lying on the ground in easy reach (or indeed, by some mischance might the street sweeper have been past 10 minutes before the Guides arrived and swept away every last fallen acorn from the inch-thick layer that was there when you checked?!)  You also have to be aware of the risk of groups being tempted to tresspass in order to obtain a requested item.  This is where it can be better to go with the modern variant of the groups taking photos rather than actually removing items (most of the Patrols can arrange to have a phone with a camera between them) the benefit being that no matter whether a group arrives first or last at the correct location, they still have an equal chance of finding the object they want - and it also means that you don't have the after-game chore of putting back or disposing of all the collected items!

With all wide games, it is vital to consider safety in the planning stages - perhaps especially so, as in the excitement of the playing the game, Guides are often giving no great thought to their own safety, and will take silly risks. 

  • Make sure all players are really listening when briefed about how the game works and what the rules are - it's worth asking them to repeat what the last thing you said was occasionally, to make sure they have listened and understood, particularly regarding the safety rules and precautions. 
  • What are the ground and weather conditions like - is it slippery underfoot for people running, do the participants have suitable footwear for the conditions, are they going to be warm enough and dry enough, with legs covered against nettle stings and the like, sunhats worn and waterbottles carried if if is hot?  Might the weather or ground conditions make some of the activities difficult or unsafe, or require part of the trail to be re-routed?
  • What is the lighting situation - is it being played in full daylight (makes it easier for the girls to see each other), in the dark (be aware that some Guides may be scared of the dark, and the difficulty of navigating an unfamiliar area in the dark particularly if there is undergrowth or uneven ground), are there other hazards to visibility like fog/mist?  In this case it is even more important to consider the size of the playing area, ground conditions (risk of injury from stepping in unseen holes and hollows), risk of disorientation.  Can you arrange things so that Guides are always in sight of others in their group and no-one is ever left on her own?
  • Avoid ever asking the Guides to do a wide game on an empty stomach (e.g. one which involves collecting ingredients to make their own breakfasts) - or at least make sure they have had something to eat (e.g. cereal bar and glass of milk) before they start.  Some girls can become very unwell if they don't eat something reasonably soon after getting up especially if they are exerting themselves.  Also be aware of the issues with having the girls running around in full sun during the heat of the day - we don't want what should be good fun to turn into illness.  How could you adapt the timing, location, or activities to reduce the risks in high summer?
  • It's vital to consider ratios for groups outdoors, especially if unsupervised - in general the Guides should be in groups of at least 4, all of whom are in sight of each other at all times.  It's wise to have an adult in a fixed location (or contactable by radio) who holds the first aid kit, so anyone who has a problem during the game can readily gain help via the nearest adult - depending on the scale of the game, equipping all the Leaders with radios may be wise.  And do check how the rulebook on ratios and unsupervised girls may affect how the wide game can be set up for the age group in question.
  • Consider the health needs, and the abilities/disabilities of all participants, and try to mould the format of the game you create around these needs.  Could you work out a game so that those who are less mobile still have a fun and meaningful share in the action, and aren't just 'keeping score' yet again, or left to trail round behind their group?  For instance, could you have a trail to follow but have the groups come back to base to do the activities, so those who can't do the trail part still get to join in with the activities?  Could some of the activities be ones that the disabled player may manage equally well or even do better at than the others do, so she has the chance to be the one who earns points for the team sometimes?
  • All players need to be aware of the boundaries of the game, so that they aren't accidentally wandering onto private ground, and so that you know, at least in general terms, where they are at all times in case you need to gather them in before the scheduled end of the game.  The size of the playing area needs to be kept realistic - large enough that the groups aren't tripping over each other, small enough that the girls aren't spending too much of the playing time in getting from a-to-b and not enough time doing the fun activities.
  • You need to think about the safety instructions you will give - you may need to remind them about things like crossing roads safely, avoiding tresspassing in private ground or out-of-bounds areas, being careful when climbing trees to take it slowly and steadily and check branches before trusting them, awareness of the needs and wishes of other users of public areas (in terms of noise, causing alarm by hiding in undergrowth, running around), not disturbing wildlife or farm animals, not making too much noise late at night in a residential area, or whatever applies - we are meant to be polite and considerate. 
  • It is also wise to have a signal arranged to indicate the end of the game - a whistle sounding a particular pattern, a handbell or similar - and to have agreed in advance with everyone which location the participants should head towards when they hear the signal - again, this can be especially useful if you have to stop the game earlier than scheduled for some reason.  Make sure the signal is a loud and clear enough one for participants, but not confusing/a disturbance for others who may be in the area - if it's an area with horseriders and dogwalkers whose animals could be spooked, a handbell may be preferable to a whistle, but you may need to walk around the area so it is audible to those who are at the far end of the playing area . . . whereas if you are playing in a public area at night, you may want to limit the volume of the signal to avoid disrupting the neighbours.
  • Remember to consult the Guiding Manual afresh to ensure you comply with all the relevant rules - permissions, ratios, rules regarding unsupervised peer groups, and any other rules which apply to your game.  Because these rules can be changed regularly, you do need to check each time, and that's why I have made no attempt to quote any of them here!.  And as with all activities, let your Commissioner know you will be out, and the outline of the activity.
  • Depending on the scale of the game, you may need to contact other relevant people - at a shared campsite it's wise to inform the other site users and the warden in case someone else is planning a wide game at the same time or using the same patch of ground; for a larger District event you may wish to consult with the Community Police Officer to make sure they are happy with what you are proposing and it won't cause inconvenience.  (If you ask in good time, they may even be keen to help you!)

Flag Raiding - September 2011

As created by Robert Baden-Powell himself, and published in his original 'Scouting Games' book, it has to be played in an area with some cover - woodland or thick moorland, so people can hide behind trees and bushes or amongst heather and bracken.  Each team has a couple of fabric flags (I made these some time ago out of different coloured cotton fabric, with cotton tapes attached for ease of tying onto things).  There has to be a minimum of two teams, but if there are four or five it can be even better.  They are sent to opposite ends/corners of a playing area, and their team's flags should be tied on suitably in their area - onto tree branches, fence posts etc, using a bow so untying is straightforward and thus fair for all.  Each player is also supplied with a wool armband in the same colour as their Patrol's flags (wool is ideal as it can be tied round an arm easily, but snaps readily when firmly tugged, e.g. when someone is captured).  Players are then challenged to both defend their flags from theft, and try to steal the flags from other teams.  Someone is captured when a member of another team spots them and calls out their name.  It can be useful to have some leaders around the playing area, both to generally supervise and referee proceedings, and one at a suitable safe-zone location to supply replacement armbands to those who have 'lost' theirs, and answer queries.  At the end of the game, points are tallied up, with one point for each opposition armband obtained, and 20 points for any flag successfully raided.


Last time we played this game, we used a real scenario from Scottish history, the 'Darien Project'.  So each Patrol was a group of settlers from a different country seeking to establish a colony for themselves on the area of 'unclaimed' land in 'Central America' which they would then have trading rights for.  Each put up their 'country's' flag to declare a patch of land as their territory, and then tried to both defend their new 'colony' from 'attack' by other colonists, and secure more land for expansion of it too . . . just a little realistic history education touch . . .

Suffragette Wide Game - November 2011

Sometimes, you can slip a nugget of education into a Wide Game by the back door, such as we managed with this one - I like to make my games educational without it being so heavy handed that it risks spoiling the fun if I can.  As with all wide games, it's important that the initial instructions the Guides are given set the scene, and don't just give the bald 'what to do'.  The information the Guides had is below.  This was a form of 'post office' wide game.  It was played after dark in suburban streets with street lighting.

"The year is 1911, and in locations across Britain, women known as 'suffragettes' are campaigning for the right to vote in elections, something men have been allowed to do for generations and women have not.  You are members of a suffragette group, and as part of your campaign of peaceful protest, you have decided to hold a demonstration tonight by sticking protest posters on the walls of no10 Downing Street. 

Your agent is located at (Point A).  From them you can collect one poster at a time, and try to smuggle it to No10 (Point B, inside our meeting hall).  There will be policemen (Guiders) patrolling in the area, if they call your name you must stop and hand over any poster you are carrying, otherwise they may arrest you.  Action must stop at 8.30, when you will gather at No10 for the next stage of your protest."

So at point A (a location some streets away from our meeting hall) our Young Leader handed out a 'poster' (actually coloured post-it notes, a different colour for each Patrol) to each of the Guides.  They had to find their way through the streets and back-lanes to our meeting hall and stick their 'poster' on a blackboard, representing the wall of No10 - they could then go back and fetch another poster.  At the end of the evening the Patrol who had most posters stuck up in their Patrol's colour won.  Obviously, if they were clever they could use decoy runners etc to keep the police occupied . . . but they weren't!

One TG member was located in the hall to supervise happenings there (but not inferfere) and deal with any queries or problems, two others were patrolling the streets as 'police', Leaders, TG and the YL all being linked by walkie-talkie radios.

Seaside Wide Game - Summer 2012

This wide game was designed for a seaside location (Canty Bay near North Berwick if you want to hunt it out on a map) where we were based on a hillside leading down to a sandy beach, with an island (Bass Rock) clearly in view on the middle horizon.  It's purpose was partly to incorporate some challenges from a seaside challenge badge (it's more fun to do challenge badge activities as part of a game, than to sit the Guides down and say 'now we're going to do origami boats' or 'now we're going to learn how to throw lifelines'.)  It was designed to follow a treasure trail format, with a series of tasks to be tackled en route.

You are smugglers trying to transfer your stolen gold nuggets to your agent on the island across the bay without being caught by the coastguards.  Your first task is to create an unobtrusive boat capable of carrying the gold nuggets (actually batches of yellow nugget-shaped pieces of breakfast cereal, so both booty and boat were fully biodegradable!).  There are (origami) boat instructions and paper in the craft room . . .

Once you have a suitable small craft you have to make your way down the cliff safely.  An agent (one of the leaders) is waiting at the bottom to give you your next instructions.  Each take a turn at throwing the rope down the cliff to your agent until they can reach it - each person who throws the rope so the agent can reach it, would be able to climb down safely.

Once everyone is down safely you can now send a signal to your agent on the island that you are about to launch the boat, so they know to look out for it arriving.  Take the plastic canister, and fill it half full with water from the bottle.  Then add the tablet, close the canister securely, hold at arms length and shake vigorously 10 times, then place on a firm surface and stand back.  Keep it at arms length throughout.  (The tablet we use is a steradent tablet as used for cleaning false teeth - bicarbonate of soda can also be used but is more messy and the powder is less convenient).  It is not unknown for these rockets to fire their lids 5 metres or more into the air . . .

Once the signal has worked, you can stroll down to the beach to launch your boat on it's way to the island.  It is best for one or two people to do this subtly while the rest do other things, to avoid drawing attention to what's going on . . .

Floodlit Wide Game - Autumn 2012

Been plotting this one for a while, but now we've finally done it, I can share it!  I noticed some time back that all the lampposts in my area had code numbers on them - nice black letters and numbers in large print on white backgrounds - and that gave me an idea for using the numbers as a sort of code for a trail which came with it's own built-in floodlighting!  So . . .

I got a recipe for microwave mug cake and put the ingredients and the instructions each on separate cards - a different colour of card for each of the two teams.  I went around the town noting the numbers of the lampposts on the route I'd chosen, and at certain ones I attached one of the cards for each team to collect - these numbers were marked with an asterisk on their lists.  When the Guides arrived at the hall I got them to line up in age order and then split them alternately into two mixed-age teams - red and blue - and gave each team a list of the code numbers.  I indicated to each group that it was a floodlit trail so they would be able to find their code numbers easily - what I didn't tell them was where these code numbers were to be found, or that I'd reversed the order of one list, so one team went round the route clockwise and the other anti-clockwise - which meant that they couldn't just follow each other, but they would still all find all the clues!  Once they got back to the hall I had the ingredients ready, so they could make their mug cakes in pairs . . . do the lampposts in your area have codes you could use for a trail with built-in floodlighting?

Photo Scavenger Hunt - March 2013

I got tired of the number of camera phones around, so decided to turn them to my advantage by having an inter-Patrol scavenger hunt.  The big advantage of having the players take photos rather than lifting objects is that all the teams can hunt for the same thing, and have equal chance of finding it, there doesn't have to be several examples of the thing available for people to collect.  Our list was a bit cryptic, which again helped to make it more challenging that just running from place to place - they were asked to take pictures of:

A view of china, a portrait of the Queen, a sweeper, their Patrol from an unusual angle, a pool, a sneaky photo of another Patrol.  Although I had an answer in mind for each object (a picture of crockery in the kitchen cupboard, a coin or postage stamp, someone posing with a broom, the Brownie pool in our Guide hall), I would accept any image which filled the brief, whether it was something I had thought of or not.  We had people hunting the walls looking for maps of China, we had people running water in the sinks and then trying to get a photo of the dregs, we had people bending over phones placed on the floor . . . 30 minutes of harmless indoor fun at no expense, which really got them thinking!

Town Trail Wide Game - April 2013

Summer term, and it was just light enough to fit a daylight wide game into our meeting time - and the Patrols were clamouring for another wide game.  So I set up a series of clues for the Guides to follow around town in their Patrols, which eventually led them back to the hall.  Problem was, some of the clues were coded, so they couldn't just run around, they had to work them out!  Methods I used were:

Fives - type out the text as normal but arrange the letters in groups of five - can be surprisingly baffling: typeo utthe texta snorm albut thens plitt helet tersi ntora ndoms pacin g.

Wingdings - type out a key at the top (a=a, b=b), then type out the message as normal below, but with no punctuation marks.  Then change the message, and the second letter in each entry in the key, into a font such as wingdings which uses symbols or pictures instead of letters - so the Guides have to use the key to work out the message.  Its an easy way of making simple text confusing

Reversed words - type out each word, then reverse the letter order.  epyt tuo hcae drow neht esrever eht rettel redro.

Telephone clue - each Patrol found an envelope which contained a codeword to use, a 20p coin, and directions to the nearby telephone box - I had recorded a special message on my home answerphone which told them what their next clue was - or you can prime a friend to sit by their phone and answer it live!  It's always useful for the Guides to learn how to use a payphone, in case the day comes when their mobile phone runs out of battery or signal . . .

Rhyming Couplets - if you have the skill, then you can give them simple clues to work out which they have to interpret.  (up the hill and you may find, a shop sells drinks of the alcohol kind, on the railings nearby, another clue to make you sigh . . .)

Map - I gave them a small portion of streetmap which had the street names removed - they had to use their local knowledge to work out where on the map they were, which way round to hold it, and thus the best route to get to the red X quickly . . . another Guide skill practiced in a practical way . . .

D-Day Wide Game - June 2013

The Guides were after another wide game, so all the coverage of the D-Day Anniversary sparked an idea for a postcard wide game. 

"It is June 1944, and you are British soldiers who have been dropped by parachute, ahead of the main invasion force who will soon land to start re-capturing France.  Your equipment has also been dropped by parachute - unfortunately in the wrong location.  Your task tonight is to collect that equipment , and transfer it from it's current location to your secret base, one piece at a time (so if you are caught carrying it, you won't lose too much).  The equipment is colour-coded".

The game was played on a former railway line which is now a woodland path, but has various side-paths and tracks.  The 'equipment' was paper squares with a dot marked - a different colour of dot for each Patrol - and stashed in a plastic box in undergrowth at one end of the playing area.  At the opposite end was a second box with a taped-down lid which had a slot in it - this was the 'secret base', also hidden in undergrowth.  The Leaders patrolled the area as 'guards' - if they heard anything too obvious they would turn round, stop the invaders and confiscate any equipment being carried.  Otherwise, they were more likely to stroll along casually whistling, admiring the view, etc, in order to allow any reasonable attempts to sneak past quietly or to use camouflage, to be effective . . . 


Inclusive Wide Game - September 2013

At camp this year we had one Guide who had just had a leg operation and couldn't walk far - so I had to create a wide game which she could have an active part in (keeping the scores is alright once or twice, but gets a bit dull several weeks in a row).  So I arranged a treasure trail with the clues scattered across the campsite - but the activities and the equipment to do them was located back at base, so the other Guides got to do the running, but the injured child could still join in with most of the actual fun activities along with her pals.  The activities were drawn from 'Traditions of Guiding' and 'Survival' badge to fit the camp's survival theme, but any topics you wished to cover could be swapped in.

The first clue was located at the shop - the Guides had to return to base and find the time the last train and last bus from town would get them home.  It became clear that most are not used to struggling with timetables, but they all found plausible answers.  They then headed to the canoeing pond, and found that their next task was to find out what Guides did for First Class - I had some very old original handbooks for them to see (1912 and 1918) and some of them found looking up an index challenging too.  After going to the whale's jawbone, they had to split into two groups to do semaphore - so each group had a turn of sending or reading a message.  Other tasks included making a model of a rope ladder from string and twigs, and making dampers (the injured Guide had prepared the foodbags of flour and salt mix while the others were away hunting up their last clue . . .

The Hunt for Lady Lucy's Jewels - December 2013

Our Winter residential at a local holiday house set in heather-clad hills, so bowing to demand, a wide game to fit in with our spy/detective theme, also incorporating bits of Science Investigator badge.  Lady Lucy has been very careless, and two of her valuable neckalces have been stolen from her jewellery box - one pearl, one jade.  She wants to recover these without involving the police if possible, so her detectives have secured the Guides' help.  Their first task was to discover the hideout the thieves used to spy on the building and work out when the coast was clear - a fragment of burned map indicated that the hut had been used and X marked the spot where the stash was placed - and the Guides were asked to fire off a cola/mentoes volcano to indicate to Lady Lucy's detectives that they were on the trail.  They then followed the thieves' trail using the map until they found where the jewels had been stashed - this time they fired off a film canister rocket to indicate that they had found and recovered the jewels.  Their final task was to sneak back into the building and replace the jewels in the jewellery box without being caught . . .

Town Tracking - May 2014

Time to teach some traditional skills, so we taught the Guides the four basic tracking signs - left turn, right turn, do not follow, and 'gone home'.  We then split the unit into two groups.  Each was given a set of directions - head along this street, turn left down that street etc - and armed with a piece of chalk in a different colour.  Each group then set off to lay their trail on the specified route.  Before long they were back at the hall, and swapped over to follow each other's trail . . . some of the arrows were a little too large to be subtle, but they got the basic premise of not marking them in the middle of the pavement, and they had fun . . .

Fudge Wide Game - June 2014

Been trying to do this wide game for several weeks, but it kept being rained off - finally managed it!  As preparation, I got hold of an aerial photo of our town, marked a red dot where our hall was, then printed out 4 copies, cut them into squares, then laminated them to make jigsaw pieces.  I numbered each set of the map on the back using a different coloured waterproof pen, in red, blue, green and purple.  I also got the ingredients for making 'armpit fudge' and hid them in a carrier bag with copies of the recipe, in the location indicated by the red dot.  (It just so happened to be back at our hall!)

We walked the Guides to a local woodland area and I got the guides to stow an empty plastic box in the long grass under a particular park, so they would know where it was.  We then walked along to a crossroads area within the woods where I put the bag of cards in the undergrowth.  The Guides split into teams and each team decides which colour they will collect, red, blue, green or purple.  The Leaders then set off to go and hide, and each player tried to transfer their team's cards, one card each at a time, to the box which was stowed earlier.  If any player is spotted by a Leader, they have to hand over the card they are carrying to that Leader, they are then free to go and get another, and can make as many trips as time allows.  The Guides had a great time sneaking along side paths, hiding in the bushes - and they eventually realised that hiding behind trees is only good camouflage if you also stop yelling to each other!

Once time was up, they had to assemble their maps as best they could, work out where the red dot was, and head there.  On arrival they found the carrier bag, and just had time to make a batch of the fudge each before 9.00 pm!

Smugglers - June 2016

Another variation on a 'postal' game for this year's wide game.  We had 2 Patrols competing this time, so we kept the premise straightforward.  Each Patrol was smuggling a different commodity.  One was preparing for a raid, so they were smuggling spades and clubs.  Another already had their loot, they smuggled diamonds and hearts.  Problem was, the hideout where their kit was stored had been compromised, so they had to subtly move it to a safer place.  Only option was to do it gradually, one item per person at a time, to reduce the risk of detection.  The game was played on a disused railway near us which has an amount of shrubbery, and a number of side-paths and routes to either side.  The stock was stored in a plastic box at one location, and was to be transferred to a box with a slot in the lid at the other location.

It was only at the end of the game that we explained it wasn't just a case of how many playing cards each team had managed to transfer without being caught, but also the face value of the goods - an ace was worth one point, a 2 worth two points, right up to a King being worth 13 points . . .

Resistance Radio Wide Game - Summer 2015

The premise of this game is 'postal', but there are refinements . . so - here is the plot.

"It is 1945, towards the end of World War II, and you are in a secret location in central Europe.  Your task is to deliver the parts to make a working radio to the hideout used by resistance fighters in the woodland.  You cannot take radios there whole, so each person must take one part at a time, to enable the fighters to put them together to make radios.  The more sets of parts you can deliver, the more radios can be constructed, and the better the resistance communications network will be.  To make a working radio, the resistance fighters need a base unit, a battery, an aerial, a set of headphones, and a morse tapper.  The mission is risky, as soldiers will be patrolling the area trying to foil resistance work.  If you are captured by them, you will have to hand over any radio parts you are carrying."

 So the game will be played on a disused railway which has been turned into a walkway in our locality.  There is a broad path, with trees, shrubs and small pathways to either side.  In preparation I have made sets of cards with pictures of each of the five components, printed on a different colour of paper for each team (I've also laminated them so they can be re-used another time!).  I will put the cards in a plastic bag at one end of the playing area, and hide a plastic box with a slot in the lid at the other end.  The Leaders will act as the soldiers, stopping any Guide we see.  At the end of the playing time we will close the supply depot, and the last components can be transported.

At the end we will tally up how many complete radios each team managed to transport, to decide which team wins.


In my units we play a game most weeks if time allows (depends entirely on whether they get on with the clearing up quickly enough or not!), and try to regularly ring the changes.  In no particular order, here are some of the games that the Guides enjoy.

BUDDY TIG: players are in pairs, except 'it', and pairs link elbows.  Pairs start scattered around the room and try to evade it.  If it manages to tag a player, then the tagged player becomes 'it's buddy, and the person thus left on their own is the new 'it'.

AMERICAN DODGY BALL: similar to the standard format in that if the tennis ball hits you below the knee you are out, no running with the ball, etc.  The difference is that rather than being out until the end of the game, in this version you sit on the end of the 'sin bin' row of chairs, and as other players are knocked out, you gradually move along the row to make room for them.  Once you are shuffled off the end of the row, you're back in the game with no further penalty.

KIM'S CHAIRS: teams line up in file, with a solid-backed chair some distance in front of each team, and another some distance behind, so the players can't see what is put on the seat of the chair.  To start, each team has the same selection of objects on their front chair.  When the Guider calls out an object (e.g. red felt pen) the front player in each file runs up to the chair it's on, grabs the object, and transfers it to her team's other chair, then runs to the back of the file - first one back gets a point.  Before long players have to remember which objects are on the front chair or the back, else waste valuable time running the wrong way . . .

PLAYING CARD RELAY: teams line up in file at one end of the hall; opposite them at the other end are tables.  On the tables, opposite each team, one suit from a pack of cards is arranged, face down, in random order.  One player at a time from each team runs up and turns over a card.  If it is the one they want they leave it face up, otherwise they turn it back face down, run back and tag the next player to come up.  The first team to uncover all the cards in order wins, the order being Ace, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, J, Q, K.   

BOMBARDMENT: each team has a chalked-off area of floor, just in front of a wall.  Size of the area depends on the number of players.  In each area a number of hollow plastic pins (ten-pin bowling type) are set up.  Teams are armed with tennis balls.  When the game starts, each team tries to defend their pins and knock down the opposition's pins.  Whenever a pin is knocked down, the team whose pin fell get a point (doesn't matter whether it was knocked down by an incoming ball or a careless defender kicking it over!) and, unusually, the team with the lowest number of points wins!

FIVE COINS: teams sit in lines, facing each other, with a gap of a metre or so inbetween.  In the middle is a low table or box with 5 coins on it (2ps are ideal).  At either end is a chair - one for each team.  Players are numbered from opposite ends.  The leader calls out a number, the two Guides run up and, one coin at a time, try to transfer the coins from the table to their team's chair.  First Guide to have three coins on her team's chair wins.

BERET: Teams sit in lines, facing each other, with a gap of at least a couple of metres inbetween.  Number them from opposite ends.  In the middle is an old beret (or a sturdy bean bag).  When the leader calls a number the 2 Guides rush up.  If one of the two Guides can grab the beret and run back to her place without being tagged by her opponent, she gets a point.  If one of the two Guides can tag her opponent while that opponent is touching the beret, she gets a point and the turn is over.  Kicking or throwing of the beret isn't allowed.  The game is allegedly French . . . 

CHAIRBALL: Split the Guides into two even teams, and have one wear bibs or some other distinguishing mark. Each team chooses a goalkeeper, they stand on chairs at either end of the hall.  Other participants sit on chairs - at the start of the game they choose where to place their chair - once everyone has chosen the chairs stay in the same place until half-time.  The infield players must sit on their chairs at all times.  A goal is scored if a team manage to throw the soft football or foam football to their goalkeeper such that she catches it while standing on the chair.

SHEPHERDS: All the Guides except the Patrol Leaders are blindfolded, and gathered in a random bunch in the middle of the room.  In each Patrol corner, chairs are arranged to form a 3-sided 'pen'.  The Patrol leaders, using voice commands only, guide their Patrol members one at a time into their Patrol pen.  First PL to safely pen all her sheep wins.

HOP FOOTBALL: chalk lines are drawn on the floor to divide the room into quarters, a quarter for each Patrol.  A large number of balls (all kinds and sizes) are scattered on the floor.  When the whistle blows, Guides try to kick any balls in their area out into the other teams' areas.  When the whistle blows the team with fewest balls in their area wins.

COVER THE CHAIR: all of the Guides sit on chairs drawn into a tight circle so there are no gaps between the chairs.  One is chosen as 'it' and stands in the middle, her chair is left in place.  When the game starts the Guides shuffle round, trying to keep all the chairs occupied so 'it' can't sit down.  At any time 'it' can call "change" and the group have to change the direction of the shuffle.  If 'it' manages to sit down, then the person who failed to move in time is 'it'.

SHUNT: all of the Guides sit on chairs in a circle, and memorise which chair they started on.  The leader gives a statement (e.g. all of those wearing white trainers, 2 seats) - those whom the statement applies to move the required number of seats, sitting on laps as required.  The first player to make it back to her own seat (exactly, overshooting doesn't count) wins.

BELL GAME: all of the Guides sit on the floor in a circle, except 'it' who sits in the middle with her eyes closed.  The Guides in the circle pass round a small (inexpensive) handbell (by the handle only).  If the bell rings then 'it' chases whoever has the bell out of their space, round the circle, and back to that space.  If 'it' catches the person with the bell, the person with the bell goes in the middle next. If she doesn't, 'it' has to try again.  Of course, it is up to each individual whether they choose to be careful or careless in handling the bell - and whether they choose to ring it then thrust it in their neighbour's hands so she has to run . . . 

TORCH GAME: at one end of the hall, set up a chair with the 'treasure' (usually a soft toy).  The person who is 'it' stands behind this chair, and has use of a torch.  Chairs and tables are scattered across the rest of the floor to provide 'cover' for Guides to hide behind - anyone who is hiding behind a piece of furniture cannot be caught.  The Guides start at the far end of the hall, the lights are turned out.  They creep forward, using the furniture as cover, trying to get within reach of the treasure.  It shines the torch round occasionally, if she spots someone who is out in the open and calls their name, they have to go back to the start.  First person to reach the 'treasure' is 'it' next.

FRUIT SALAD: Players sit on chairs in a circle facing inwards, apart from 'it' who stands in the middle.  Each player is named after a kind of fruit (it's worth writing out a list, and using '5-bar gate' to note down turns so everyone gets their share).  The leader calls out the names of 2 fruits, and these two players should try to swap chairs, while the player in the middle tries to steal a chair.  If the leader calls 'fruit salad' then everyone must swap chair.  If the Guides start to get complacent, then more than 2 fruits can be called at a time . . .

INDOOR ROUNDERS: Split the Guides into 2 teams, one taking first shot as batters and the other as fielders.  Arrange three chairs as the three bases, one fielder sits on each (and is chairbound) and the other fielders spread themselves out to taste.  As with ordinary rounders, the batter hits, then runs round the bases.  Meantime the fielders try to pass the ball to the fielder sitting on first base, who throws the ball to the fielder on second base, who throws it to the fielder on third base - if it gets dropped the fielder has to throw it again.  If the runner can get round the bases before the ball reaches the fielder on 3rd base she gets a run, but if the ball gets round to the third base fielder she is out.  The fielding team can swap their fielders at any time during play, but fielders on chairs have to stay sitting.