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.


Co-operative volley ball

This game is ideally played with a volley ball net and a beach ball.  If  you don’t have those, a rope tied at volley ball net height and a balloon will do.

All the girls stand on one side of the net.  One girl hits the ball up into the air.  She then goes to the other side of the net.  As the ball comes down, another girl hits it up before it hits the ground.  The second game follows the first girl to the other side of the net.  This continues until there is just one girl left on the starting side of the net.  She knocks the ball over the net and then play starts again.  Order does not matter but the girls may find the game is more successful if they pick a girl who is good at volley ball to anchor each side.

Engineering Meeting

We tried out the kits from Engspire for their Crazy Contraption meeting.  We lead it on our own as we planned this meeting too late to apply for a facilitator (maybe next year).  The kit came with two activities.

Opening Game: The game contained a set of cards with different engineers on each card.  The girls were suppose to read their card and then imagine what it would be like to be that kind of engineer.  Then the Guiders asked questions like “Would your engineer use a computer?” and the girls were to move to one end of the gym if they though the answer was yes and the other if they thought the answer was no.  The cards represented a good diversity of engineering fields but used some language that was difficult for some of our girls.  Even the symbols were unfamiliar to some of the girls.

The Contraption Kits:  We split the girls into groups of 5.  Each group was given one contraption kit to start.  They were given 15 mins to try and build that one kit.  Most of the girls got the the kit built in the 15 min.  Then they were given four more kits and told to figure out how to build the rest in 20 min.  Some groups had one person assembling each kit. Some groups went with more of an assembly line method.  Even so, the kits were tricky and the girls had trouble keeping them together even once they were built.

We might try a different Engspire meeting next year but I don’t think I’d want to do this one again.

Cup Stacking Challenge

This is a team building games for patrols.

Each patrol will need:

  • 1 elastic band with one piece of string (about 1m long) per girl in the patrol tied to it.
  • 6 paper or plastic cups

To play:

Once the cups are spread out, each girl is only allowed to touch the end of the string.  The goal is to move the cups into a pyramid by working as a team.

Halloween Team Building

This week was our annual unit Halloween party.  All the girls were invited to wear a costume instead of their uniform.  The girls always enjoy seeing the leaders in costume too.  For activities we ran a round robin of co-operative, team building games.

  1. Stack the cups with an elastic and string
  2. Pass the can
  3. Find your way though a maze while blindfolded
  4. Collective Sheet Ball
  5. Alligator Alley 

All the games when over well but the maze game took slightly longer then the others to play.

After the games one of the leaders had some Halloween trivia for the girls.  When a girl answered the question right her patrol got to go and line up for some Halloween treats.  We ended the evening with a group photo shoot.

Pass the Can


  • 1 or more large cans
  • fill for the can (see below)

Set up:

Have the girls sit in a circle with their feet out in front of them.  If you are playing outdoors in the summer you can fill the can with water.  If getting wet is not ideal you can use popcorn or for indoors, packing peanuts.  You want the can to be a full as possible.  The aim is to pass the can around the circle from girl to girl, using nothing but their feet and legs.  If you have a large group you can start several cans at the same time in different places around the circle to keep more girls involved in the game.