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A change of pace

Practise pacing in pairs as we take on indoor and outdoor obstacle courses that require some navigational skills.
Plan a session with this activity

You will need

  • Pens or pencils
  • A4 paper
  • Compasses
  • Paracord
  • Large beads or cord locks, five per person
  • Strong black tape
  • Three pairs of safety goggles
  • Miscellaneous objects, of different sizes
  • Coloured cones
  • Surveyors tape measure
  • Map, if needed
  • Table, if needed

Before you begin

  • This activity involves using compass skills and working in pairs to navigate through obstacle courses and collect items. This could be run as a base alongside other activities or in a session on its own.
  • Outside, mark two boundaries 50 metres apart, or 25 metres apart if you’re short on space.
  • Make two courses, one indoor and one outdoor.

Pace it out

  1. Bring everyone outside and have them line up at one of the boundaries you marked out earlier. Explain that they’ll be learning about pacing and how to measure it. See if anyone already knows anything about pacing.
  2. Give everyone five minutes to pace from one boundary to the other, then back again, counting their paces as they go. Give everyone a few goes at this. Have some pens and paper handy for people to note down the total paces for each run and to then work out the average for each person when they’re done pacing.
  1. Give everyone paracord and five beads or cord locks. Show them how to make pacing beads. Explain what to do, what they’re for and how to use them.
  2. Split the group in half. Send one half to the indoor course you set up and keep the other half outside to take on the outdoor course. At each course, everyone should split into pairs.
  3. Explain how each pair should complete the course.
  4. When everyone’s had a few goes at the course they’re at, move the indoor course pairs outside and have the outdoor course pairs come inside, so that everyone can complete both courses. Keep making a note of each pair’s scores.
  5. Total up the scores from both courses for each pair to see how well everyone did.


Indoor course


Outdoor course


Additional information


Not having a map to navigate can be challenging, but understanding how to read and use a compass will help you find your way. Pacing showed you how to measure distances and you learned how to use pacing beads. How could you apply pacing skills to a real hike or expedition? If you were testing a route for a hike, you could use it to measure the distance of a leg with your pacing beads.

There were two tricky courses to complete, but you did have a teammate. How did working with a partner help you solve the problems in this activity? What new skills did you learn and how will they help you when out walking? Is there anything you would have done differently if you had the chance? Have a think about how you communicated with each other and how you helped each other.


All activities must be safely managed. Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Do a risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Always get approval for the activity and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.

Outdoor activities

You must have permission to use the location. Always check the weather forecast and inform parents and carers of any change in venue.

Snow and ice

Be careful when activities involve snow and ice. Check surfaces and reduce the risk of slipping where possible. Have appropriate supervision for this activity.


Provide some light, so the environment isn’t completely dark. Everyone must be able to see others and move around the area safely.

Active games

The game area should be free of hazards. Explain the rules of the game clearly and have a clear way to communicate that the game must stop when needed.

Hiking and walking

Follow the guidance for activities in Terrain Zero, or the guidance from the adventure page.

Road safety

Manage groups carefully when near or on roads. Consider adult supervision and additional equipment (such as lights and high visibility clothing) in your risk assessment.