Initiative Bases
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The following activity is based on three elements - tracking, retrieving instructions and the incident itself. Using fairly familiar challenges with dramatic renaming (lighting a fire on water becomes 'River ablaze', building a raft to cross water becomes 'Crossing the shark pool' and pitching a tent from outside a circle becomes 'tent on quicksand'. The activity is run on the following system:


Tracking, retrieval of instructions, incidents.


A roughly circular course over open ground with activities taking place at bases repeated for each Patrol as they arrive at each base. Patrols should start at a different base.


Instructions and challenges placed as close together as possible but out of sight of each other.


30 or 45 minutes at each bases, according to the difficulty of the Course. the time limit is signalled by the blast of a whistle. You may need to allow time for base staff to reset the incident before the next Patrol arrives.


Every Patrol is given 100 points to start An initiative game with. They lose 2 points for every infringement (such as a foot inside the tent pitching circle) and 10 points for failing to complete the challenge on time. You may also consider awarding 2 bonus points for the best team at each incident and 10 points for completing the challenge in half the allotted time. How difficult you make the course is up to you. You should try to mix the most difficult incidents with and easy retrieval of instructions and vice versa, so that instructions which were merely hidden required the Patrol to cross a mine field using spars, ropes, and pickets and a simply pulley setup, while instructions which had been extracted from a Billy inside a circle (radius ten feet ) by means of bent sticks about four feet long and short lengths of string led to bundles of firewood for the relatively easy task of lighting a fire on water. Instructions could be wrapped in plastic bags and placed in a bucket of water up a tree (points lost for spilling water) or in a immovable plastic bottle into which no pointed object can be placed. You could also place a rogue item at each base just to confuse the Patrols. Instructions should be in the form of written messages or on tape in each case , the written messages may however be written in code.

Other ideas could include:

Goo Bucket

Carry a hike tent the whole way round and put it up at the very end
Remember a very long number
Gut a fish
Follow a compass course or the location of each base is a grid reference
Make a bucket of sticky goo and place a stick in it, with a message saying the next clue is 'down here'. The clue is actually stuck underneath the bucket but normally the scouts don't think of this until they have tried everything else.
Solve a puzzle set up using pioneering poles along the lines of 'turn these three squares into four by moving two poles'. ( The way to do this is to experiment with twigs before heaving the poles about.)
Carry some pioneering poles over a short obstacle course before making something reasonably simple.
Hide batteries for a cassette recorder around a small area. When they are found, the next clue is on tape.

Some suggested incidents

River transported

This exercise requires the Patrol to construct a set of sheer legs as shown and transport the Patrol across a river. The 'Bridge' can only be constructed from one side of the river and an extra spar will be required to push the first person into an upright position. Once across the river the sheerlegs can be controlled from both sides of the river.

Electric fence

electric Fence

An electric fence is set up using a fruit cage net or the netting used to protect newly seeded lawns. The problem is to get the whole Patrol over the net. as it is electrified it cannot be touched, and anyone that does so requires one minute's artificial respiration by another member of the team. A suitable collection of materials to enable the task to be completed should be available around the area.


Mug Tree

Two buckets are connected via a single pulley. the bucket on the ground is full of water, the bucket up it tree is empty. Attached to branches so that the just reach the branch below are mugs. The top mug will reach the top bucket, and the bottom mug will reach the bucket on the ground. The problem for the Patrol is to get the two buckets to balance exactly ( meeting halfway) by transferring water up the tree from mug to mug. The Scouts should strategically position themselves up the tree so that it is possible to collect water from the bottom bucket and pass it up the tree to the empty bucket.

Blindfold string trail

There is little to beat a well planned blindfold string trail over various obstacles. All the Patrol should be blindfolded except the Patrol Leader who directs the Patrol around the course. An effective way of blindfolding the Patrol is to provide each member with a pair of swimming goggles smeared with Vaseline - it is impossible to see out of them.

A variation (1) is to suddenly declare the whole Patrol, apart from the assistant Patrol leader, snow-blind and the APL has to direct the whole Patrol across an ice flow one at a time using two icebergs (boxes to walk on.

Variation (2) using the swimming goggles, pitch a tent.

Variation (3) Set up a string trail which goes around trees ,over branches, under logs etc. A number of mugs are connected to the string through the handles of the mugs. A bucket of water is provided at the start of the trail and an empty bucket at the end of the trail. The Patrol are invited to carry mugs full of water over the string trail without spilling a drop and depositing it in the empty bucket at the end of the trail.

Snake pit

Your Patrol while retreating from a hike because of injury to one of your Patrol have come across a swamp full of deadly snakes that can reach up to three feet. You must cross the swamp to reach the hospital in time otherwise your Patrol member will die as a result of his injuries.

Equipment: Two sets of rough stilts ( or gear to make them) some light rope.

Telephone cable

This river stretches for miles in each direction. The telephone lines across it are made of a new substance which is only destructible by fire. Your job is to destroy the cable as near the centre as possible. The cable may not be touched by hand.

Equipment: what the Patrol request within reason.

Lighted candle

Mark out an area about six metres in diameter and place in the centre, about one meter apart, two jam jars, one containing a Iighted candle. Provide ample sisal twine.

Instructions - Working outside the area, reverse the position of each jam jar in relation to each other If the light goes out, your failure will) be complete. You have been warned!

Flood Warning

Within ten minutes the whole area will be  flooded to a depth of four feet. Darkness is approaching rapidly. A beacon fire must be lit to warn the villagers across the valley. The  only gear available is six spars, four lashing ropes, an old billy lid and a box of matches.

Time bomb

A bomb has been found. A wiring diagram of its Iayout is available. The problem is to de-arm the bomb. The problem is that the drawing can only be seen by one person who is in a safe location away from the bomb. Communication is possible by walkie talkie. The Patrol member must tell the Patrol what the bomb looks like inside the box and how they must de-arm it.

Prussik Knot Climb

Prussik Knot

Using prussik knots oil your whole Patrol up a rope into a tree or platform.

Radioactive Drums

Radioactive material in drums must be kept stable to ensure safety. This is achieved by placing the drums, 9 in total, in a square 3 drums by 3 drums. The drums have a radioactive value printed on them, 7, 3, 6, 9, 1 1 , 13, 14, 17, 10. To ensure safety, however, the drums must total 30 on each branch ( vertically, horizontally, and diagonally)

The wire

An oil platform in the North Sea has lost its power supply due to a blown out connection box in the undersea power supply. The problem for the Patrol is to re - wire the connection box. The task is made difficult by the fact that the water is murky as the connection box is on the seabed. To simulate these conditions each member of the patrol must wear swimming goggles smeared with Vaseline. Visibility is totally impaired. Colours can be distinguished, but numbers, writing or connector boxes - no way. A connection sequence is provided on the surface ( from a position 20 yards away)

Copyright St. Pauls Scout Unit 1998.
Last revised: October 10, 1998