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  • Games/Activities to teach compass skills to cubs?

    I'm putting together the final activities for our July pack event (an outdoor skills day where the kids will learn how to use a compass, tie a bowline knot, read a basic map, ...).

    The thing I'm stuck on is activities that can be used to let the kids have fun while practicing using a compass.

    I was thinking of creating a course for them to follow with hints such as "20 yards south-east of the large oak tree" and "15 feet at 220 degrees from the wood pile".

    Can anyone suggest any other games that would be easy for the cubs to understand?

    There just has to be Compass Tag!


  • #2
    We did a hunt game with the compass last fall. I had a compass and so did a group of scouts. I would tell the 6 steps N or 3 baby steps S. When it was finished they were told to look for treasure. They found a stash of compasses that they each got to keep one.


    • #3
      I like that idea a bit better than the "treasure map" approach. It would allow the adult volunteers a chance to get involved too calling out the directions (and would let them keep the boys directed if need be).

      With Target selling compasses for $1 each having that as a prize is a great idea.



      • #4
        How about if you divide up the boys into groups with 1 adult in each group to help if necessary. Each group has their own list of directions & compass.

        Each set of directions is different. They all go in different directions, eventually, after 2-4 course changes they each end up at a different skills station. When they finish that station they then follow 2-4 more course changes to find themselves at another station, and so on. Their last set of 2-4 course changes leads them each to their very own prize.

        You can intersperse fun stations with skill ones.

        This approach works well if you have a lot of room to spread out so that the stations are not all right next to one another. This is definitely more work upfront because you have to plot out where each station will be, when & where each group will be, & how they will get where they are going.

        We did this at our Pack campout the year before last & the kids had a ball! Their prize at the end was a hidden popcorn can with patches, certificates, & a treat.


        • #5
          Remember this is Cub Scouts so we need to start with the basics.

          A 'Simon Says' type game where the scouts have to point North, South, East or West depending on what the game leader cals out.

          A 'Concentration' type of game where you have pairs of pictures of map symbols (write the name of the map feature on the face with the symbol so that the scouts can learn them as they match them up). Scouts take tuirns flipping two cards face up as they match a pair they get a prize.

          Put a paper sack over each boys head and give each a compass let hem hold the bag open with one hand so that all they can see is the compass. Ask each to walk a given number of steps North and stop. Tell them not to take the bag off untill you tell them. give a prize to each boy as he does the task correctly. Have the others do them over until they go the right direction.

          Give each den a map of their town and have them mark where each lives.

          Hope they have fun
          (This message has been edited by Bob White)(This message has been edited by Bob White)


          • #6
            Your scout shop sells a Beginners Compass Game that younger scouts really enjoy. You set up a large circle of stakes at the designated points. There are a couple hundred small tear-off cards with 6 different compass readings that correlate to the stakes. Starting at different spots on the circle, the boys take their readings, move to the stake and take their next reading and so on. After a few rounds, the teams enjoy competing to see who can finish first. It is fun and they really learn to understand reading a compass.


            • #7
              We just did this and the kids had a great time.

              Cracker Barrel has "Silva " Type compasses for 3.99 each.

              Have every boy stand in a group explain to them that a compass doesn't show where to go. It only shows a constant northerly direction. Show them a big declination map. Explain that a large chunk or magnetic ore is in Canada, and that's what makes the compass point that way.
              Years later when somebody further explain declination they will have already the cause once.

              Ask them to hold the compass and slowly rotate. "Hey Scouts did you notice the compass always pionts in relatively the same direction? Columbus and early explorers had little more than this to sail around the world."

              Show them how to shoot an azimuth, or take a bearing. Start out with the cardinal points first. Once everybody is pionting in the same direction. have them shoot an azimuth of 288 degress(or whatever). Once they can do this the fun really starts.

              With chalk on pavement or signs that won't blow away, write 10 bearings. Ask each boy to follow those bearnings. We did this in a large field. At the edge of the field was a plate of candy lying within that bearing.
              Pretty soon this becomes a self directed activity.

              All ranks could do this. My Webelos helped the kindergarten kids that will be Tigers in the fall. All were able to play this game.

              Go to the library and get Bjorn Kjellstrom"S book "Be expert with Map and Compass". Older versions of the book have a cartoon of a man riding on a magic carpet. he sticks his head through the carpet and what he sees is exactly what the map shows. This really helps when you talk about orienting the map to match the ground. If you can have a map of where you activity is held. Have them lay the compass along themap north arrow and rotate the map until the compass lines up with the map north arrow and huzzah! you have the map matching the ground.

              Now you have two activties.
              Add Bobwhites map of the town and you have enough for the belt loop. The requirement says "neighborhood" (i think) but the twon is even better because everybody is included.

              The kids really liked finding the candy. I wonder if boy scouts would like to find watermelon on a campout that way?


              • #8
                Forgot two things.

                Each boy can only take one peice of candy off each plate.When we did this as a den I had a work sheet that asked them to match the bearing with the type of candy.

                The proper way to hold a compass is very important. Make sure their "noses" point the same way as the direction of travel arrow does. I tell them hold the plastic base to your chest and keep your head and eyes straight forward.


                • #9
                  The reason we played the hunt with me giving directions is that most Cubs aren't that good at judging "X amount" of yards. I knew where the stash was and could adjust how far the group went in the directions given. Also we rotated who was in charge of the compass so that each boy got to find a direction. If they were too far away they took "Giant Steps", if too close "Baby Steps" just like mother may I. I could alter the path so that it took longer so that each boy could lead more than one time. If they were having difficulties we could go further so that they had more time to work on their skills.
                  Hope this helps.
                  I am going to be an _________(?)!!


                  • #10
                    We've had success with an indoor compass game that teaches the concept of following a bearing. Working in a large room (we use a school cafeteria), the leader prepares for the game by taping small pieces of paper on the walls, perhaps ten feet apart and at eye level. Each paper has a single letter on it, small enough that the letter cannot be read from a distance. The leader then prepares an index card for each Scout or team, listing a sequence of bearings to be followed (each team having different instructions). Each bearing leads to one of the pieces of paper. This would look something like this:

                    "1. Start at east doorway. Follow bearing of 200 degrees.
                    2. Follow bearing of 35 degrees.
                    3. Follow bearing of 160 degrees..."

                    Next to each instruction is an empty square or underlined space. When the Scout reaches the paper, he writes down the letter. He then follows his next instruction to the next letter. As he goes through the course, his letters will begin to spell something out. (Just be sure to make the last few letters unpredictable, to prevent any shortcuts.)

                    In our experience, the boys get quite excited to find out their hidden message. For older boys (especially Boy Scouts), we do this with declination included. For the Cubs, that's not necessary, and would probably be overkill.

                    Hope this helps.


                    • #11
                      Cajuncody, I like your idea. Did you work with your boys to earn the beltloop? If so, how long did it take ie. more than one meeting? I have a meeting in 2 weeks and was wanting to have the boys earn a beltloop and was thinking about the compass one.



                      • #12
                        That's the best idea, Carol. The belt loop and pin are going to have age-appropriate requirement and program suggestions.

                        One thing I learned doing this about a year ago is to make a map of the immediate area for the boys to use. Everything should be visible to them. When the map is oriented correctly, the things the see on the ground are in the same relationship as they are on the map. This makes the concept concrete and easier for the boy (and most adults) to understand.

                        We did this as a station at day camp last year. For that we bought a bunch of compasses from Wal-Mart for $3. WARNING: you get what you pay for. I tried using these compasses on the orienteering course at Boy Scout camp and found they were off +/- 5 degrees in either direction.


                        • #13
                          Thanks Twocubdad, that gives me something to work with. We have our meetings at our scout house in our local park. It would be very easy to make up a map of the area that would be easy enough for my guys to read.

                          Learn something new everyday!



                          • #14
                            We did earn the belt loop in one meeting. It was simple and fun. We left our normal meeting place and the boys made a simple map on the way to the park, that way they could spot local landmarks. At the park we used a sheet of paper off of a newspaper roll to make one large map of the community with all the boys helping. My husband is excellent with direction (born with it) so he was a big help. We formed a circle of adults and the boys told us which adult was due north of a certain spot (we also did N,S,E,W and everything in between. We made use of the parks hiking path up to a very old cemetary where we did a seperate hunt such as find the headstone due north of the oldest headstone. All activities were age appropriate and met requirements. It was a lot of fun for the boys and we also had a picinic. It was a perfect day and it got the boys outside and they earned a beltloop and compass (given out at the end of the meeting), what more could you ask for. Plus it gave us a summer meeting to count on Summer Time Pack Award.


                            • #15
                              I just set up the orienteering course at our day camp. I set up two courses, one to tech on and one to practice skills on. The teaching one is a small circle of stakes with letters on them that form codes. All of these can easily be seen.
                              The skills course uses all of the lower meadow. The stakes are also letters, but they form words, all related to scouting or the safari theme of camp. These stakes are not easily visible. I did not use any pacing in the course, just a take a bearing and start walking. We started the boys at a specific stake and then they get a card that gives them the next bearing and a blank to write in the letter. When they get done we check the word (or code).

                              Cubmaster Pack 435
                              Ft. Vancouver District