Compass Skill Activities

Compass 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

Download PDF File of Compass Skill Activities

BLINDFOLD COMPASS WALK  (wide, in or out)
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 his patrol’s stake. A Scout from one patrol sets his 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 him to see only the ground and the compass in his hand. Each Scout turns himself around three times, then follows the bearing on his compass for 50 steps. He then turns around and follows the bearing back (orienting the direction of travel arrow toward himself instead of away) for 45 steps.
Scoring:  Only Scouts within 5 steps of their stake, score.

COMPASS FACING  (small, in or out)
Materials:  one compass for each patrol
Method:  Patrols line up in parallel formation. First Scout steps forward with his 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 his point being named, moves to a wrong place, or even hesitates.

DIRECTION FACING (wide, in or out)
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 him toward the other patrol on his team. On signal, he puts the bag over his head and is turned around three times. He then uses the compass and the top degree reading to find his way to the other patrol. There he gives 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 his 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.

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 his compass at 360º, faces north, and walks for 50 paces following that bearing. Next, he sets his compass for 120º, faces that bearing and takes another 50 paces. Finally, he sets his compass for 240º, faces that bearing, and again takes 50 paces. When he’s done, if he’s five feet from the piece of candy, he can pick it up, put it in his pocket, or eat it.
Note: ideally, the candy will be placed on grass or other terrain so the Scout can’t spot it until he’s finished the last leg of the triangle.
Variation: The Scout chooses his own bearings, adding 120º to the first and second as he goes.

Planning Scout Meetings that are Meaningful, Engaging, and Fun