Semaphore is a fun, historical communication activity.  It was once considered an core Girl Guide skill but girls still have fun trying to send messages with flags.

Semaphore flags are not hard to make if you have basic sewing skills and once made they will last for years.  I’d suggest making at least two sets.

To practice semaphore split the girls into two groups.  Each group will need a set of semaphore flags, a copy of semaphore signals, some paper and pencils.  Have them spread out as far as possible.  Each team chooses a simple message to try a broadcast.  Then one team at a time tries to signal while the other team writes down what they see.  Then switch.


Caesar Cipher

Ciphers and codes can be a fun way to discuss communications and mathematics.  This video discribes one of the simplist ciphers the Caesar Cipher.

To present this to my Guides I discussed the Caesar Cipher and then had each girl make her own decoding ring using this pattern. The girls could then practice coding and decoding messages for each other.

Career Night

This was an easy meeting to run and might be a great choice for a week you know you are going to be a little short on Guiders.

We sent out an invitation to the parents a few weeks in advance to generate some volunteers, we also spoke to some friends and family of the Guiders.  In the end we got 5 volunteers a doctor, a flight attendant, an engineer, an opera singer and someone who works for public health.  Our unit has 5 patrols so that worked out well.  We had each volunteer set up a station around the room and ran the evening as a round robin, with 10 minutes at each station.  That gave the volunteers time to tell the girls about their job and left some time for the girls to ask questions.


DeCode is a new National Challenge on digital literacy. It replaces the old Cybercitizen Challenge.  It is in the form of an instant meeting for each branch.  There is also a backgrounder document for Guiders.  Many of the activities can be done off line so don’t disregard this challenge if technology is not available to your unit.  No matter what branch meeting you uses the challenge involves and opening and closing activity plus activities from the following three themes: My Digital World, Safe and Positive Spaces, and Disconnect and Reconnect

If you are looking for more digital literacy ideas, don’t forget that WAGGGS also has the Surf Smart Challenge although the free trial period is now over.

Lost at Sea

Lost at Sea is a critical thinking/team work game.

First you read the senario:

  • You and your patrol have chartered a yacht in the South Pacific for a vacation.
  • None of you have any previous sailing experience, and you have hired an experienced skipper and two-person crew.
  • As you sail through the Southern Pacific Ocean a fire breaks out and much of the yacht and its contents are destroyed.
  • The yacht is slowly sinking.
  • Your location is unclear because vital navigational and radio equipment has been damaged.
  • The yacht skipper and crew have been lost whilst trying to fight the fire.
  • Your best guestimate is that you are approximately 1000 miles South West of the nearest landfall.

Your Patrol have managed to save 15 items, undamaged and intact after the fire. Place them in order from most useful to least useful.

Then distribute the worksheet to each patrol.  Give them 10-15 minutes to work out their priority for the items.  Let them ask questions if they aren’t sure what some of the words mean.

Lost at Sea worksheet

Then review the “official” answers.

According to the experts (US Coastguard), the basic supplies needed when a person is stranded mid-ocean are articles to attract attention and articles to aid survival until rescue arrives. Articles for navigation are of little importance since even if a small life raft were capable of reaching land, it would be impossible to store enough food and water to survive for the requisite amount of time. Without signaling devices, there is almost no chance of being spotted and ultimately rescued. Furthermore, most rescues occur within the first 36 hours and a person can survive with only a minimum of food and water during that period.

So, the following is the order of ranking the items in their importance to your survival:

  1. Shaving Mirror Critical for signaling
  2. 2 gallon can of oil/petrol mixture Critical for signaling. The mixture will float on water and could be ignited with a match. What the experts don’t say is how you get away from this conflagration or what to do if the wind should push the life raft into the flames!
  3. 5 gallon can of water Necessary to replenish fluids lost through perspiration (that’s sweat)
  4. One case of army rations Basic food intake
  5. 20 square feet of opaque plastic Can be utilized to collect rain water and provide shelter from the elements
  6. 2 boxes of chocolate bars Reserve food supply (what were you going to do with that much chocolate?)
  7. Fishing kit Ranked lower than the chocolate as ‘a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush’ There is no guarantee you will catch any fish.
  8. 15ft of nylon rope Could be used to lash people or equipment together to prevent it being washed overboard.
  9. Floating seat cushion A life preserver if someone fell overboard
  10. Shark repellent Enough said
  11. One quart of 160 per cent proof rum Contains 80% alcohol, which is enough to be used as an antiseptic for any injuries, otherwise of little value – would cause dehydration if ingested (that’s drunk to you and me)
  12. Small transistor radio Of no use without a transmitter. You would also be out of range of any radio station.
  13. Maps of the Pacific Ocean Worthless without navigation equipment. It does not matter where you are but where the rescuers are!
  14. Mosquito netting There are NO mosquitos in the midpacific ocean. As for fishing with it? – stick to the fishing kit.
  15. Sextant Useless without the relevant tables and a chronometer

It is unlikely that any patrol will be exactly right. And they might quibble with the official answers depending on their skills and experience. That is fine. The point is to understand what is key to personal survival (water, food, shelter etc.) and to work together.

There are other similar scenarios available on line such as a plane crash in the arctic or lost on the moon.  I thought these were a little trickier so they might be better for a second play though or for Pathfinders or Rangers.

Silent Orders

Patrols in their corners.  A girl from each patrol is called to the game leader and told to get her patrol into some given position without speaking to the girls.  Fore example: sitting cross-legged in a line facing a certain direction; facing the door with hands on hips; standing in a row facing one way with legs apart and arms over head; etc.  Points are given to the quickest.  When Patrols become more experienced , they may be given several positions so they will have to carry out a series of positions (first position, second position, etc.) without spoken orders.