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"The training of the Boy Scouts is done mainly by means of games, practices and competitions such as interest them, and at the same time bring into use the attributes of manliness and good citizenship which we desire to inculcate into them." Scouting Games

"Wide Game" is a term that has come into use in Scouting in comparatively recent years. The term indicates various types of games which are played by any number exceeding one Patrol over a sufficiently wide area of ground or even of water for that matter. Such games can be of a fairly simple nature, such as an easy trail or treasure hunt, or of a somewhat complicated nature, involving a good deal of previous preparation and large numbers of Scouts from different Troops.

Camp games are played within a confined area and can include such games as rounders, hockey, hand ball, "Bang the Bear," and so on. Wide Games are those which take place beyond the confines of camp in the surrounding country, or in the country round about one's village or town.

In the early days of Scouting such games were more commonly known as Field Days, a term which has a  military significance but which still indicates the idea of the game very well--a day spent in the fields. These field days were highly popular and made for thoroughly good Scouting out-of-doors, but somehow or other--possibly owing to the restrictions imposed during the Great War--they fell into disuse. In most Continental countries, however, such field days continue to be popular, especially in Denmark where they are indulged in with such vehemence that they undoubtedly bring out the attributes of manliness.

Within the last six or seven years there has been a revival in many Troops--town and country--of this form of outdoor Scouting following on the general desire to get back to the game of Scouting as originally conceived and to make more use of Scouting for Boys as the source of information and inspiration in regard to Scout activities [see Traditional Scouting].

In the original edition of Scouting for Boys appear such wide games as "Scout meets Scout," "Dispatch Runners," and "Lion Hunting" which were all highly popular. Aids to Scouting, written by B.P. shortly before the South African War and used to train boys as well as soldiers before he wrote Scouting for Boys, contained the game called "Flag Raiding" (or "Capture the Flag") which appears in later editions of Scouting for Boys and has proved itself, in various forms, probably the most popular Wide Game of them all.

Scouting Games, another of the Chief's books, was first published in 1910 and contains practically all the games to be found in Scouting for Boys (in order that they should be available in a more handy form) and many others. This book starts with a chapter on "Scouting Games," of which "Flag Raiding" (or "Capture the Flag") appears first. It also contains chapters on " Stalking Games," "Tracking Games," "Cyclists' Games," "Town Games," "Night Games," "Winter Games," and "Seamanship Games," all of which deal with games out-of-doors and mostly over a wide area.

That is sufficient to show the methods originally adopted for securing the practice of Scouting, and it is good to realize that these early methods have stood the test of years, and are being approved today as wise and valuable.

Why are Wide Games valuable in our Scouting?

The answer is threefold, 

(1) they appeal to Scouts; (2) they give practice in Scouting; and (3) they assist in the training of character. These are the three ingredients necessary to good Scouting.

(1) APPEAL. The average boy likes to get out into the open air, to roam about, to play something strenuous, to enjoy something of adventure and romance. Wide Games most obviously take him out into the open and enable him to roam about. They entail a good deal of exercise even in walking and running, climbing and stalking, apart from the chances of some modified form of a scrap in wrestling against an opponent for his life and freedom. The amount of adventure and romance supplied to him through Wide Games depends somewhat in the way in which they are set out for him. The desire for his side to win, the difficulties of following the trail or of spotting his objective, the uncertainty. of escaping detection, these all convey the zest of adventure. 

But more still can be done if the actual details of, the game are embroidered by the addition of a story historical or otherwise--which gives his activities the cloak of still more adventure and romance. We all like playing a part, we all like to see ourselves as someone else. A certain amount of excitement and desire to win is aroused when Troop A competes against Troop B in a game, but the atmosphere is surcharged with added excitement when the A Smugglers are trying to take their cargo through the cordon spread by the B Preventive men.

In Wide Games a Scout does assuredly find an outlet for his youthful energy and his fertile imagination.

(2) SCOUTING. "By the term 'Scouting' is meant the work and attributes of backwoodsmen, explorers, and frontiersmen." Wide Games enable the Scoutmaster to bring both the work and the attributes into practice. All those Yarns in Scouting for Boys on Campaigning, Tracking, and Woodcraft can be utilized and followed up through Wide Games. Practice can be given in almost any outdoor Scouting activity save Pioneering, and even that could be incorporated given the time and a Wide Game extending, say, over a week-end!

The Scout activities most commonly followed up in this way are Pathfinding, including Map-reading, Observation, Stalking, and Tracking. All kinds of subsidiary activities also come into the picture, such as camouflage, concealment, and disguises. In the next chapter more will be said in regard to training and practice in these and other activities. There is no need to develop the value of Wide Games from the point of view of training in Scouting, further at the moment.

(3) CHARACTER TRAINING. Here again it is difficult to summarize the value of Wide Games, since almost any quality of human character can be developed by means of them. Organizing ability is required beforehand in order that the game be planned and understood by those taking part in it. This will develop the Scouter's character, but he must not be selfish; in order to get full value, Patrol Leaders and others should be associated in the planning of any game. 

The story, and the motive that lies behind the story, have to be understood and appreciated by all taking part if the game is to be a real success. Rules have to be learned and obeyed, even in the midst of considerable activity and excitement, and so self-control and fair play are developed. Obedience and discipline are integral parts of any team game, and become all the more necessary when the players are separated from, and out of sight of, each other. Team work and Patrol effort are thereby helped and strengthened. The fact that Scouts will mostly be working in pairs tends to develop initiative and self-confidence. The feeling of independence out in the open that is engendered will make for what might be described as manliness. Habits of observation and qualities of deduction are all developed. Patience and pluck both play their part: the former in stalking quietly, in lying hid, in waiting for the right time to attack; the latter when contact is made with the other side and some form of rough and tumble may ensue. Rules of capture need careful working out, and more will be said of them later, but they should not be such as to eliminate all possibilities of a struggle of some kind with its obvious value in promoting strength and grit--not to mention fun, so far as the Scouts themselves are concerned.

It is easy to see that this form of Scouting can help to bring into use the attributes of manliness and good citizenship. One of the most important factors in the success of a Wide Game of almost any kind is the team work and co-operation that must subsist among the members of any one side.

When can Wide Games be brought into our Scouting?

The answer to this question depends on inclination and on circumstances. A certain amount of night work can be done at all seasons of the year by both town and country Troops; inclination, initiative, and ingenuity are the sole governing factors. The element of time may handicap a town Troop as against a country Troop when it comes to the question of Saturday afternoons or other half-days. The expense of transport is another handicap. But the question remains whether we encourage our Scouts these days to make sufficient use of their legs and of their bicycles. Half-days should be utilized wherever possible, and the possibility becomes all the greater when a real outdoor Scouting attitude and atmosphere has been secured in a Troop.

Camp affords another opportunity for the playing of Wide Games. It is fair to say that every Scoutmaster can and should devote at least one day of the Troop's summer camp to a game of this nature. If the excuse is offered that the surroundings of the camp preclude such an activity, that excuse cannot be accepted. It is obvious, if that is the case, that the site for the camp is not a suitable site for a Scout camp, however suitable it might appear to be from other points of view. A few hours' night work in camp might also be considered, starting very small and working up to something really exciting. It is possible, too, to include a short Wide Game in the program of a weekend camp from time to time.

Mention might be made of Rover Scouts. Wide Games hold quite as much value and appeal to them; that has been proved by Scouters on Wood Badge Training Courses. A Crew has the same opportunities as a Troop to seize hold of, but for Rover Scouts the Wide Game which embraces a number of Crews will probably be the more common form.

Wide Games on a District or Association basis--for Scouts or Rover Scouts----can only be infrequent. In some Districts they are annual affairs and occupy a whole day. They need very careful working out and must be kept, on comparatively simple lines lest a Patrol or Troop fail to grasp instructions and are out of it all the time.

Such Wide Games are real Field Days and require a mass of previous preparation and orders.

There is the possibility, however, of two or three neighboring Troops or neighboring Crews getting together for the playing of Wide Games on a more spontaneous basis. A village Troop can challenge another village Troop, possibly specifying the general type of game to be played. The same can be done by town Troops, but there is the added value for village Troops in bringing the Scouts of different villages together and so widening their outlook and giving them some glimpse of Scouting outside their own village. Weekly half-holidays or weekends can be utilized in this way.

There is still need in many parts of this country and of the world for the Game of Scouting to be made more wide.

So let us consider Wide Games.


Wide Games!






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Peer- Level Topic Links:
!Quick Guide! ] Conquest Type ] Cordon-Breaking Type ] Man-Hunt Type ] Raid Type ] Seizure Type ] Treasure-Hunt Type ] Treasure Type (UK) ] [ Introduction ] Training ] Care of Countryside ] Playing the Game ] Preparations ] Cloak of Romance ] Night, Winter, Water ] Descriptions ]

Parent- Level Topic Links:
Baden-Powell's  Games ] B-P's Adult Military Games ] Dan Beard's Games ] A. Mackenzie's Games ] G. S. Ripley's Games ] Ernest Seton's Games ] J. Thurman's Games ] Smith's Advancement Games ] Wide Games ] Relay Games ] Special Needs Boys' Games ] Politically Incorrect Scout Games ] Game Leadership ] Compass Training Games ] Highland Games ]

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Last modified: October 15, 2016.