Baden-Powell Games Book



["Catch the Thief" and "Bang the Bear" are from Mr. Thompson Seton's book The Birch Bark Roll of the Woodcraft Indians.. 1s. Constable.]


A red rag is hung up in the camp or room in the morning; the umpire goes round to each Scout in turn, while they are at work or play, and whispers to him: " There is a thief in the camp but to one he whispers: " There is a thief in the camp, and you are he-Marble Arch," or some other well-known spot about a mile away. That Scout then knows that he must steal the rag at any time within the next three hours, and bolt with it to the Marble Arch. Nobody else knows who is to be the thief, where he will run to, or when he will steal it. Directly any one notices that the red rag is stolen, he gives the alarm, and all stop what they may be doing at the time and dart off in pursuit of the thief. The Scout who gets the rag or a bit of it wins. If none succeeds in doing this, the thief wins. He must carry the rag tied round his neck, and not in his pocket or hidden away.


One big boy is bear, and has three bases in which he can take refuge and be safe. He carries a small balloon on his back. The other boys are armed with clubs of straw rope twisted or knotted scarves, with which they try to burst his balloon while he is outside a base. The bear has a similar club, with which he knocks off the hunters' hats. If a hunter's hat is knocked off he is counted killed; but the bear's balloon has to be burst before he is killed -so be will learn to turn his face to the enemy and not his back.


Two patrols compete. Bottles or bricks are set up on end, one for each Scout in the two patrols ; the patrols take their stand side by side and facing their respective enemy (the two " patrols " of bottles or bricks), and await the word " fire." They are armed with twelve stones each. As soon as a target falls over a corresponding man of the other patrol has to sit down-killed.


Twelve players are needed for the game, which is interesting to watch and makes a good spectacle for a display. The players: 1 bull, 1 matador, 4 Chulos and 6 scarf-bearers.

PART I. The bull enters the arena (which should be made by Scouts " forming fence ") with four or five 6 in. strips of paper pinned to his back. The Chulos try to tear off these without being touched by the bull, but if the bull touches them twice they are dead. The scarf-bearers, who carry their scarves in their hand, run in between the bull and a Chulo if he is hard pressed, and by waving their scarves in the bull's face, make him follow them. If a Chulo is once touched by the bull, he is dead. Only one strip may be taken at a time.

PART II. When all the, strips are off, or all the Chulos killed, the arena is cleared and the bull blindfolded, with a scarf tied round his neck so that one pull at an end brings it off. The matador then enters and has to remove the scarf without being touched by the bull. If he succeeds, the bull is dead.


This' is a game something like football, which can be played in a room or limited space. A small football is used, but it is never to be kicked. It is only to be thrown or patted with the hands. Kicking or stopping the ball with the foot or leg is not allowed. The ball may be held in the hands, but not hugged close to the body, nor may it be carried for more than two paces. All holding, dashing, charging, shouldering, tripping, etc., is forbidden ; and there is a penalty of a free throw to the opposite side from the fifteen foot mark at the net, which forms the goal. The net is hung up about ten feet above the ground on a post, tree, or wall, so that the ball can be thrown into it. Opposite each goal a path fifteen feet long and six feet wide, beginning immediately under the basket and leading towards the center of the ground, is marked out. At the end of this path a circle is drawn ten feet in diameter. When there is a free throw, the thrower stands inside this circle, and no player is allowed within it or with- in the measured path. Corners, and other rules are the same as in Association football; but in ordinary rooms, with side walls, it is not necessary to have "out" at the sides. The usual number of players is four or five a side, and these can be divided into goalkeeper, back, and three forwards. If there is plenty of room the number of players could be increased. A referee is required, who throws up the ball at the start of each half of the game, and also after each goal.


It is an interesting competition for patrols to compete in knight errantry. Two start out with orders to return within two or three hours and report, on their honor, any good turns they have been able to do in the time, if necessary calling at houses and farms and asking if there is any job to be done-for nothing.


Scouts are posted thirty yards apart, and each lays down his staff on the ground pointing to what he considers the exact north (or south), without using any instrument, and retires six paces to the rear. The umpire then compares each stick with the compass. The boy who is most correct wins. This is a useful game to play at night, or on sunless days as well as sunny days.


Cock-fighting always proves amusing, and our illustration shows a way of playing the game, which may be new to some of you. Instead of sitting on the floor, with staff under knees and hands clasped round legs in the usual manner, the two combatants get into a squatting position, with the staff held as usual. The picture shows this quite clearly. It is then very comical to see each "cock" hopping about and endeavoring to upset his opponent.


The billiard table consists of a smooth sack placed on a level piece of ground-the " cushions " being made of Scout staves. Old golf balls take the place of the usual ivory kind, and instead of a proper billiard cue the Scouts use their staves.


Here is the description of a good game for you to play either in your clubrooms or out of doors. There are about six or nine players, and they all join hands and form a ring round some object, which will fall over if touched, such as a footstool stood upright. The players all swing round the stool and each one has to do his best to make one of the others knock the stool over as they swing round, at the same time avoiding knocking it down himself. When a boy knocks over the stool he stands out, and the game goes on until only one player remains.


A hat is placed on the floor. One Scout from each patrol comes forward. Both lean over towards the hat, each placing his right hand over and his left hand under the arms of his opponent. The thing to do is to remove the hat with the left hand and get away with it before the other fellow hits you on the back with his right hand. The one who succeeds in doing this takes his unsuccessful opponent prisoner. The game is continued until one patrol has made prisoners of all, or half, of the opposing patrol.


Two patrols play together against the other two. We will call them A, B, C, and D.

A and B face each other, with a distance of fifty feet between them, the boys standing one behind the other. C and D do the same, taking their position at least fifteen feet to the side of their opponents. The Scoutmaster, or whoever directs the game, stands in the center of the parallelogram which is thus formed. This is shown quite clearly in the picture. He hands a staff to the first boy of each of the patrols standing side by side. Upon a given signal these two run as quickly as they can to the boys heading the other two patrols, hand them the staves, and retire from the game.

The two who now have the staves return them to the first of the remaining Scouts of the other patrols, after which they retire from the game, and so on. The game is continued until all the boys have run with the staves. The object is to see which two of the patrols can finish first. The last boy on either side carries the staff to the Scoutmaster in the center. Of course, that side wins whose last boy gets to the Scoutmaster first. Naturally, you must remember to have the same number of boys on both sides, and each must stand perfectly still until he has received the staff. If you play this game outdoors, you can get more fun out of it by arranging so that a ditch, fence, or other obstacle has to be crossed by the boys who run with the staves.


This game can be played either in the clubroom or out of doors, and two or more patrols can take part. AU that is required to play it are two hollow rubber balls, or a pair of boxing gloves will do very well. The players should be divided into two equal parties, and should stand in two rows alongside each other. The leader of each party stands at the head of his line, and when the signal to " Go " is given throws the ball between his legs to the man behind him, who passes it on to the next, and so on, until it reaches the last man, who has to run with it outside his line and give it to his leader. The side which gets the ball back to the leader wins, and the game can be varied by throwing the ball over the head instead of between the legs.


For this game two equal teams are required. Each team formed of one patrol is the best fun, but, if necessary, the two teams can be furnished from one patrol. The simplest form of the game is to take the hats of all the players and place them in a row in the middle of the ground, the two teams standing facing each other on either side of the row about twenty-five yards from it. A Scoutmaster or Patrol-leader, standing at one end of the row, then calls a number, and each Scout having that number in his patrol runs to the row, and endeavors to obtain the hat nearest the Scoutmaster, and return to his place without being " tagged" or touched by the other. Should he be tagged, he must replace the hat in the row. The game proceeds until one patrol has secured a complete set of hats. If there are more than two patrols, the losers of the first game play another patrol, and so on, till all have had a turn. As the two Scouts will probably reach the hat almost at the same time, each should pretend to seize it, and thus induce the other to move in one direction, while he seizes the hat and moves off briskly the other way. There is much value in securing a good start by means of a well-executed feint, and great fun always results when two experts at pretense are opposed to each other. No Scout should be called upon a second time until every other member of his patrol has been once called upon. The game may be varied in several ways, of which the two following are typical:

1) Instead of aiming at the same hat, each Scout called upon may be required to find his own hat among all the hats placed in a heap, and, having found it, to attempt the double task of tagging his opponent and of returning to his own place without being tagged. Should he be successful when his number is called again, he has only to tag his opponent, and need not trouble about securing a hat, as he will, of course, already have got his own. When the two Scouts bearing the same number have secured hats, they inform the Scoutmaster and drop behind the line, taking no further part in the game.

2) Other articles of Scout toilet, e.g. scarves, lanyards, water-bottles, may be put down, and any player having secured a hat would then aim at another article until his toilet was complete. The order in which articles are to be obtained must be definitely laid down by the Scoutmaster, when the game begins. In this variation, the patrol to which a Scout who first completes his toilet belongs wins the game.


An excellent game for the country is " Bomb-Laying." It is most exciting if the cover is good or if the light is just failing. The troop divides into two parties, each commanded by a Patrol-leader. Each Scout, with the exception of the Leader, is provided with a small stick about seven or eight inches long, and sharpened to a point at one end. These sticks may be cut from trees or bushes (if permission is first obtained and no damage is done), or, failing these, the pieces of wood in an ordinary bundle of firewood will do very well. Each Scout wears his "life," i.e. scarf, tie, or piece of tape, in the back of his belt as a tail, so that it can easily be pulled out. The Scoutmaster then defines an area which provides good cover, and the two parties select a " camp " which they think can be best defended. The center of each camp is marked by a patrol flag mounted on a staff. If the game is played in the dark, then the camps must be marked with a lamp. The camps are an area within a twenty-five yards' radius of each flag or lamp. The object of each party is to place their "bombs," represented by the sticks, within the other party's camp. When a Scout has planted his "bomb" in the opponent's camp, he must take the scarf or tie out of his belt and tie it round the stick. A "bomb" is not planted until this is done. A Scout is "killed" when an opponent snatches his life from his belt, and when "dead" he can take no further part in the game, but must make his way quickly to a definite piece of neutral ground agreed upon before beginning the game. When the cover is good it Is often possible to it la a Scout without his noticing it, and when after carefully planting the "bomb" the owner discovers he is dead, his feelings are better imagined than described. Each party works under the command of its leader, who directs the attack. Thus it may prove better to attempt to lay only a few bombs and use the rest of the party for defense. The leader must remain in his camp area, and is not allowed to " kill " any of the opposite side. He may climb a tree or direct operations from any position within his camp. Scouts who have successfully planted their bombs must make their way straight back to their leader and inform him, after which they may take part in the de- fence of their own camp-being provided with another life.

No Scout is allowed to lay more than one bomb. If a Scout who has laid his bomb is caught on the return journey, he can be taken back to the captor's camp and made to remove his bomb, and then " killed." At the end of an arranged period of time the Scout- master sounds a bugle or whistle for operations to cease, and the side which has laid the greatest number of bombs wins the game. A very large troop may be split up into more than two parties and a general "international warfare" indulged in.


This is an excellent game for a Scout display, and can be played either in a hall or out of doors in a field. A couple of ropes, each about ten feet long, are tied to a heavy weight or driven into the ground with tent pegs. The " Badger " holds the loose end of one rope and the "Baiter" the other. The Badger has a tin with a pebble in it, while the Baiter carries a cushion or pillow. Both are blindfolded. The game is played as follows: The Badger rattles the pebble in the tin, at the same time running round the weight, and the Baiter tries to find him and knock him with the cushion. Both boys, of course, have to keep their own rope quite taut as they run round to prevent themselves from tripping.


An effective item for a Scout display is Ring Catching. It is also an excellent game for Scouts, as it makes them quick with their eyes and nimble on their feet. The game is played as follows: One Scout, whom we will call the "Thrower," is armed with half a dozen rope quoit rings, about four or five inches in diameter, which he throws to another Scout, who has to catch them one by one on his staff. The " Thrower " must deliver the rings fairly quickly, only giving the " Catcher " time to come smartly back to the " engage " position, after catching or missing each ring. The rings should not be thrown from the same spot each time ; but the " Thrower " should never approach within three yards of the " Catcher." Short throws, high throws, and long throws should be all given, in order to make the game more exciting. The pole should have a piece of leather slipped over it to protect the hands from being hurt by the rope rings. Of course, the range and other distances can be made to suit local conditions.


A fairly large circular area is marked out and all the Scouts but one take up their positions inside it. The remaining Scout is "armed " with a tennis ball, with which he endeavors to "shoot" the Scouts inside the area.

Each Scout who is "shot" comes outside and helps in the "shooting," but only one tennis ball is used throughout the game. The Scouts inside the area, by rushing from one side to the other, dodging or jumping, can delay being hit for some time, and when their numbers become few, the fun is fast and furious. The Scouts who are "shot" should arrange themselves round the circle, so as to pick up the ball quickly as it flies across the area. The game may be arranged as an inter-patrol contest in this way : One patrol takes up its position inside the area, and the leader of the opposing patrol commences " shooting." For each Scout he hits he is allowed to have one of his own patrol to assist him, the Scout who is hit re- tiring. The time taken to kill off the whole of the opposing patrol is noted, the winners being the patrol taking the shortest time.


This game is best played in a clearing in a wood, but can also be played in an open field. One Scout takes up his position in the clearing and the rest seek cover as near as possible. A football is rolled into the clearing by the Scoutmaster or some other person acting as umpire. The Scout in- side the clearing immediately kicks it outside and rushes out to "tag" any other Scout he can find and catch; but directly the ball is kicked back into the clearing, he must return and kick it out. NO Scout may be " tagged ",while the ball Is lying still in the clearing. The umpire watches the ball, and directly it comes to a standstill inside the clearing he blows his whistle to indicate the fact. While the One Scout is returning to kick the ball out, the others may change their position or seek fresh hiding-places. The Scouts who are caught remove their scarves or wear a white handkerchief around one arm, and then help their captor to catch other Scouts; but they must not kick the ball, and must return to the clearing each time the whistle is blown. The winner is the Scout who is caught last. In an open field the clearing is indicated by a white mark on the grass or comer posts, and Scouts have to elude capture more by dodging than by seeking cover. As a variation, successive patrols may " hold " the clearing and endeavor to capture the rest of the troop in the shortest possible time. The Patrol-leader only is allowed to kick the ball out of the clearing. The winning patrol is that which takes the shortest time. In this variation the Scouts who are caught do not take any further part in the game, and for this reason it is not so suitable for a cold winter's day.


This is a favorite game of the Boy Scouts of America, and was invented by Mr. Ernest Thompson Seton, Chief Scout of America. Two Scouts are mounted on upturned tubs, about nine feet apart, and armed with long bamboo poles. Each pole has a boxing glove on one end, and the Scouts have to knock one another off the tubs with the poles. The boxing glove, of course, prevents any damage being done. If tubs cannot be obtained, forms or chairs can be used instead.


For this contest a Scout pole and a piece of board are required. A course fifty yards long is marked off. The board is carefully balanced on the pole before starting, and the Scout endeavors to run the course before the board falls. Few succeed in getting very far, and the onlookers get a good deal of amusement from the efforts of the boy to keep the board balanced.


An obstacle race is always popular; the difficulty generally is to get satisfactory obstacles. The picture here shows a long table, which can be obtained from the mess tent. On this a number of circles are drawn at irregular distances. A mark is made, say twenty-five yard, off, and a Scout is blindfolded, turned thrice round, and is allowed to make for the table. Each circle has a different number within it, and when the Scout reaches the table he has to put his fingers on it. If he places his fingers inside a circle, that number is added to his score; otherwise be gets nothing. The idea of the game is to score as many as possible in a given number of turns.


To play this game, form two squads of eight Scouts and line them up about fifty feet apart. Half-way between them place an Indian club or stick, on which rests a handkerchief. An umpire should be appointed, who must take his stand close to the club or stick. When he says the word " Go," a player from each side dashes from the line, runs towards the stick, and endeavors to snatch the handkerchief before his opponent does so. The one who fails must pursue the other back to his line, and try to " tag " him before he reaches it. If the successful snatcher regains his line without being " tagged," his pursuer becomes his prisoner; but should he fail, he becomes the prisoner of the other side. The game continues until the whole of one side has been captured by the other. If this end cannot be reached within a reasonable time, the side having captured the greater number of prisoners wins.


Here is a game which causes no end of fun. All that is required to play the game is a pail, a tennis or rubber ball, and a piece of wood about eighteen inches long. Any number can play, but to start you must decide who is to occupy the bucket first. Then turn the bucket upside down, and the chosen player, holding the piece of wood in his hand, mounts it. The rest of the players have to try to hit the bucket with the ball, whilst the one on it has to defend it and prevent the ball from hitting it. When the pail is hit, the player who hit it takes the place of the one on the pail. If the one on the pail loses his balance and falls off, the player who threw the ball last takes his place. By the way, the ball must be thrown from the spot where it falls after the defender has hit it.

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