Compass Games

Compass Basketball (or Soccer or any other sport)

 Mark circles on the court to represent the eight main compass points. (North is just below the

basket, South behind the foul line.) Divide players into two teams. When the leader calls a compass point, the

first player must go immediately to that position on the court and shoot at the basket. If the Scout goes to the

wrong point, he may not shoot. Score two points for going to the correct mark and one point for making a basket.

After all players from the first team have had their turns, the other team takes over. Compare total scores.


Dutch compass

Equipment: A broomstick, tape

How to Play: Set up a circle with the tape about four metres in diameter. Mark with the tape the eight compass

points around the circle. The blank space on the compass becomes north. The leader stands in the middle of the

circle with a broomstick held upright with one end on the ground. He calls out a compass point and at the same

time releases the broomstick from his grasp. The player standing on that position must run in and catch the

broomstick before it hits the floor. If the player is successful, the game continues as usual; if he fails to catch the

broomstick, he goes to the north position. His empty space on the compass becomes the new north position.

Allow players a few seconds to figure out where they are, then resume again. If the game becomes too easy or

you want to include more people, expand the compass into its full sixteen points.


Find your place

Equipment: Tape, 16 cards (each marked with one of the sixteen points of a compass)

How to Play: Using the tape, make a large circle on the floor. Place the sixteen cards face down on the floor

and have each player take a card. The leader finds the player who has North and places him anywhere on the

circle. On command "This is North, find your place!", the other players have to try to find their appropriate

places on the circle. Place the cards face down again and try it again. When the Cubs begin to catch on and

become proficient at this, make it more difficult by placing any player (e.g. WSW) on the circle and saying "This

is West South West, find your place!"



This game will teach Scouts how to work together in a team, and how to use a compass.

Equipment: newspapers; compasses

How to play: Line your players up in groups. Scatter opened pieces of newspaper in front of each group so the

floor is completely covered. With a leader who acts as an umpire, identify a number of pieces of paper that will

represent mines. Don't tell the first person standing in line which papers represent mines. (You might even want

to place some obstacles (like chairs) around on the newspaper to make the task more confusing.) On "Go!" the

first person in each line must follow compass headings called out to him by the last person in line to find a safe

path through the mine field. (E.g. "Two steps at a heading of 220º.") If the person being guided through the

minefield steps on a mine, the Scout must return to the start.

North by Northeast

  • Nature game, outdoors/indoors
  • Equipment: 1 compass
  • Formation: scatter

The leader gathers the group together. Using the compass, they all learn how to determine which direction is north. Someone from the group is asked to select an object that lies directly north, (e.g., a tree, or a doorstep, or a post). Then the group decides on an object that lies directly south, one that lies directly east, and one that lies directly west.

Everyone assembles in the centre of the playing area. The leader calls out one of 'North', 'South', 'East' or 'West', and everyone runs to touch the object that lies in that direction. The last one to touch the object is eliminated.

After a new rounds of the game, play can stop, and objects for the intercardinal points (Northeast, Northwest, Southeast and Southwest) can be added. Everyone can begin the game again, as all eight points are used.

A great game to introduce the skill of orienteering !


Silver Dollar

This challenge will help reinforce compass bearings.

Equipment: Each participant requires one orienteering compass, one fake "silver dollar" (3-inch circle from tin

can top), and one card with distances and directions. Each card should have the following same directions with

"X" being different for each player.

Directions for Card: 1.Take 50 steps at "X". (For this example we will use 90 degrees for "X") 2.Take 50 steps at

"X" (90 degrees) plus 120 degrees. (i.e. 90 + 120 = 210 )3.Take 50 steps at "X" (90 degrees) plus 240 degrees.

(ie. 90 + 240 = 330 )This should create a triangle which will bring your Scouts back to their Silver Dollars.

How to Play: Scatter participants widely over a field with fairly tall grass. Place a "silver dollar" at the feet of

each Scout. On the signal, "Go!", each Scout sets his compass for the direction on his card, and walks the

specified distance. Do this again for the second and third bearings. When done, the "silver dollar" should be at

the Scout's feet (or at least within immediate sight). The patrol with the most Scouts winding up within 7½ steps

of their "silver dollars" (5 percent error) wins.


Compass Scavenger Hunt

Materials: A compass per team, about ten cards per team, pegs

What to Do: Prepare a simple orienteering course outdoors. Peg small cards to the ground. Each card should

have on it a bearing and the distance to the next card. The card also contains a jumbled up word for the team to

unscramble. The words in the sequence produce a message. The first team to finish the orienteering trail and

decode its message, wins.


Find your bearings

In this game you'll be creating words using compass bearings.

Equipment: Each Scout should have a pencil, paper and compass.

How to Play: Mark out a circle in a field and place stakes in the ground with a single, highly-visible letter on

each stake. Each Scout (or patrol) must spell out a word by finding its compass headings. For example, if

assigned the word "SYMBOL", a Scout would take a compass reading to the first letter ("S") from the centre

stake. After marking the bearing down, the Scout would walk to the "S" and take a bearing to the next letter

("Y") and continue until finishing the word. Leaders must check to make sure the bearings are correct.

Depending on the size of the circle, you could have groups of Scouts all playing at once.


That's Backwards!

Equipment: several "obstacles" set up along a course; compasses

How to play: In a forest, several leaders set up a number of obstacles separated by distances ranging from 100-

300 metres. Then Scouts get a list of bearings (all bearings) to each obstacle. For example, if the true bearing to

obstacle #1 is 360 degrees, then the bearing given would be 180 degrees. The Scouts must turn around and walk

backwards to the obstacle following the compass bearing of 180 degrees. When the Scouts have reached their

destination, they must face forward and complete the obstacle, at the end of which they find their next backward

bearing. You could try this as a relay race by starting at opposite ends of the obstacle course. You could set this

course up with a hiking, camping or wilderness quiz at each station.


Astral Navigation

Equipment: Cardboard boxes painted in a team colour (one for each player), compasses (one for each player),

short sticks with a flag of a team colour (one for each player), cards with the correct compass bearing and

distance from the starting area to the centre area.

How to Play: Have each of the teams stand at their starting area. Give each team member a flag, compass and a

box which he places over his head. After everyone's head is covered, pass out the cards with the compass

bearing on it. At a signal, every player walks the distance from the starting area to the centre spot, using the

compass bearing as his guide. When he thinks he has completed the distance, the player can then stand still,

raise his flag and remove the box from his head. The winning team is the one with the most players within five

yards of the target. The players must not be aware that there is one centre spot that all the teams are being

directed to. They must be led to believe that each team will end up at its own finishing spot. They can even be

told that the flag of their team colour will be placed at the point to which their team has been directed. When

everyone is blindfolded (so to speak), a person holding one of each team's flags can proceed to the centre spot

and stand there until the game is over.


Compass Relay

Scouts will gain increasing familiarity with compass points by playing this game.

Equipment: You will need something to draw a compass on the floor or ground, and cards (to be used as

markers). How to Play: Form teams into relay formation. Opposite each team is a compass circle drawn on the

floor or on the ground. The points are shown, but only North is marked. When the leader calls out a compass

point, the first player on each team places a mark (before the leader counts to six) on the compass circle in front

of her team at the point where the leader called. If the player is correct, she falls in behind her compass circle. If

wrong, she goes to the back of her team. The next compass point is called and the next player marks it on the

compass circle. (Position a judge at each compass circle and remind players that coaching is not allowed.) The

team getting all of its players behind the compass circle first, wins.

Setting up a course with map and/or compass

Trail signs

These are the most straightforward - set up the signs along the path, making sure to make them reasonably easy to

see and placed every place that there could be a question about where to go (any trail crossing, for example). Give the scouts copies of the trail signs possible and send them off.

Remember two rules of trail sign etiquette: If you come across a trail sign in the woods, leave it, because you don’t

know who needs to find it. And, if you know that you are the last group to use the trail sign, pick it up and scatter the

pieces, so it doesn’t confuse another group.

Compass Games

Compass Relay

Line up teams in relay formation, parallel to each other. Opposite each team a compass is drawn on the floor, the points

indicated but only the North lettered. The leader calls out a point. The No. 1scout in each team steps out and places a pencil

on the compass, pointing in the given direction, before the leader has counted six. If correct, the player falls in behind

compass; if incorrect, he goes back and falls in at the end of her team. Another point is called and the No. 2's step out.

The first team to fall in complete behind the compass wins.

There should be a referee for each team to avoid time waste in verifying the compass directions shown.

Follow The Ball

Equipment: Compass and Beanbagor substitute a ball or something for each team.

Each scout is given a direction (North, South, East, West).  Each team has a beanbag and a compass.  One scout form each team sets the compass and stands to face his given direction.  He then throws the beanbag as far as he can in that direction.  The rest of the team runs to find the beanbag.  The second scout then sets the compass in the spot where the beanbag landed, stands to face his given direction and throws the beanbag.  The game continues in this way.  Additional compass directions such as N.W. and E.S.E. or degree bearings could be used for older scouts.


Sixteen Point Compass Game

A circle is marked on the floor and sixteen cards are prepared each

giving one of the sixteen compass points. These cards are placed face

down on a table. Each of the sixteen players takes one of the cards at

random. The umpire finds the player who has picked up the North card

and places him anywhere on the circle. On the words, "This is North --

Fall in," the others take up their appropriate places in the circle.

After the players have become thoroughly proficient the umpire should

take any player (say ESE) place her anywhere in the circle and say.

"This is ESE--Fall in."

North, South, East and West

Players are formed up in open formation. The four sides of the room are named North, East, South and West respectively.

The corners of the room are named to correspond with the intermediate compass directions.

Whenever the umpire names a direction the players immediately jump to

face in the direction. Players who make a mistake, or who move too

late, sit down in their places until only one remains standing. When

the players have become thoroughly proficient the game should be stopped suddenly and another direction indicated as


Map and Compass Activities

Dutch Compass Game

The fifteen players stand in a circle, 10' to 12' in diameter. The umpire stands in the center of the circle holding a staff upright

with one end on the ground. On the words, "Fall In," players take up

positions on the circle (facing inwards) to represent the compass

points, the umpire indicating where a space is to be left to represent

North. He commences by calling a compass direction say ESE and

simultaneously releases his hold of the staff. The player occupying the ESE position on the circle must catch the staff before

it has fallen. If he succeeds he returns to her place and another direction is called.

When a player fails, he goes to the North space on the circle and the

place he left becomes the new North, all of the players immediately

picking up their new compass points. The umpire calls new direction.

Compass Point Contest

Make two compass boards by drawing a circle on a piece of cardboard (one for each compass board) and securing it to a

wooden board with brads at each of the eight compass points. Let the brads protrude about ½ inch, and mark one point N

for North. Initial the eight points of the compass on small pieces of cardboard with a small hole in each label.

Line your contestants up in two teams (your guests, you should have

some, could participate in this game). This is a team contest in which

members (one from each team) compete in placing seven labels (omit

North) on the brads quickly and correctly. A contestant receives one

point for placing the labels correctly and a second point for doing so

first. Winning team is the one with the most total points at the end.

Compass Golf

Bury a small tin can in the center of a large circle marked on the

ground. Mark North, South, East and West with small pegs on the

circle's circumference. These are used to tee golf shots toward the

buried can. Record how many strokes you need to get in from each point.

Map and Compass Activities Page 2

Compass Skills Patience

You will need: Sets of cards having the compass points printed on

them. The ten cards for each team are laid out at random, face down on

a table in front of them. One at a time the scouts run up and turn over

a card. If it is not the North card then they turn it face down again

and run back to their team and the next player has a go. When the North card is turned up they can lay it face up at the

front of the table. The next card needed is the South card and so on. Play continues until one team has all its cards turned

face up in the correct order.

VARIATION: This game is played the same way as the previous game, but

this time the girls have to place the cards at the correct compass

position for that card. Suggested order for laying down cards: North,

South, East, West, North East, South East, South West, North West,


Cardinal Points

Materials: Compass, start marker (could be a flag, a ball, anything),

spacious field or room

Goal: To learn how to use a compass, girls should have basic knowledge

of the cardinal points (N, NE, E, SE, S, SW, W, NW). This game requires

basic knowledge of the cardinal points while using a compass.

Instructions: Select a starting point. Drop the start marker and using

the compass follow these directions:

Walk 5 paces to the north, stop

Walk 10 paces to the West, stop

Walk 20 paces to the south, stop

Walk 15 paces to the east, stop

Walk 15 paces to the north, stop

Walk 5 paces to the west, stop

At this point, look down on the ground. You should be at the starting point!

Map and Compass Activities Page 3

Compass Bingo

Materials: Give each scout a sheet of paper, divided into squares (much

like a bingo card). Anywhere from 16 or 25 squares is good. For

Brownies, at the top or bottom, put the 4 (or 8) points of a compass to

help them learn.

The leader has a master card, with items pre-drawn on it. For example,

in the top left corner might be the letter A, next to it a kite, next to that a hat, etc. Each space in the "bingo" card should be

filled with something that is easy for the girl to draw.

How to play: The leader describes the location of a square using the

compass points, then tells the girls what to draw in that square. As he goes, he marks it off on her sheet so she doesn't

repeat any, and

continues until all the squares have been marked off.

Example: "Find the squares that are at the north. Now go to the square

that is as far west as you can go. Put an A there." (the scouts draw an

A). "Now go 2 squares to the east and one square to the south. Draw a

tree there." Continue until all squares are filled. For younger scouts,

give them hints sometimes, like "this square is beside the tree".

When everything is completed, the girls can compare their drawings.


Ahead of time, cut out construction paper in flower shapes, or animal

shapes. Attach them to trees or bushes in the area with a pushpin. Scouts go to starting point and follow their written directions:

12 paces E, 34 paces, left, etc. At the end of their directions, it should lead them to the tree or bush where the cutout

is. Each group of scouts has a different tree or bush to end up at.

Lay a Trail

Give each patrol a piece of paper and a pen, and two popsicle sticks.

trail. Then the scouts make up their own compass trail, writing down the

directions as they go: 25 paces N, 40 paces S, 10 paces NW, etc. etc. At the end of their directions, the girls place another

popsicle stick to mark the end.

The patrols can then swap their instructions, and follow another

patrol's trail to find their popsicle stick. The scouts were told where

the starting point was. This game could also be played in the dark with


Penny Game

Place a penny on the ground at your feet. Set your compass on any bearing (e.g.. 60) and take a sighting. Walk 10 paces on that bearing. Stop and add 120 degrees to your first bearing and take a new sighting and walk 10 paces in the new direction. Stop and add another 120 degrees, take a sighting and walk 10 paces on the new bearing. Stop, add another 120 degrees, take a sighting, walk 10 paces. Stop, look down and hopefully you will see your penny!

Where Will the Animals Go?


A picture of an animal(or something else) for each player
 Large cardboard "N"


Use a compass to find north. Tape the "N" to the wall or floor. The leader calls out directions for the animals to be placed, e.g., "Will the lion please sit at northeast?" Continue until all the animals are in place. Then you can ask the players to suggest movements. "Paddington, where are you and where would you like to go?" The player with Paddington might say, "I'm down south and I would like to go northwest." Since only North is marked, the players have to figure out the relative positions of the other seven points.