Skip to main content

A knotty challenge

Improve your knot-tying skills and work as a team to find treasure.
Plan a session with this activity

You will need

  • Rope
  • Box
  • Treasure for the chest such as snacks, drinks or equipment for everyone’s favourite game
  • Washable colour pens
What knot
PDF – 306.7KB

Before you begin

  • Create a treasure chest by filling a box with your treats.
  • Tie the rope around the chest in a way that means everyone can easily tie cord to it, and eventually pull it towards them.

Practise the knots

  1. Separate into small groups; each should have a helper.
  2. In each group, the helper demonstrates a familiar, simple knot and everyone practises until they’re feeling confident.
  1. Alternatively, the person leading the activity could assign one knot to each helper, so groups move around from helper to helper to learn each knot.

Take the treasure chest challenge

  1. The person leading the activity should place the chest at one end of their space and the lengths of paracord at the other.
  2. Now it’s up to everyone to tie their cords securely together to the rope around the chest, until they’re long enough to reach the team and the chest can be pulled to the other side of the space.
  3. The first person runs to the chest and ties their cord onto the rope using either an overhand knot, reef knot or sheet bend. Anyone who‘s less confident can pair up with someone who is well-practised.
  1. Repeat this until everyone’s had a turn.
  2. Once the cords form a long rope, everyone should heave the treasure across the space and open the chest together to see what rewards their hard work has brought.


This activity is designed to develop everyone’s knot tying skills. It’s a fun way to remind them about different types of knots, why knots can be helpful and where they can be used. For example, reef knots are useful for tying a sling or bandage; a bowline can be tied to a load; a clove hitch is useful as a lashing. Everyone should think about which knot they found the most challenging. And was physically tying the knot or remembering how to tie it that was more difficult? Did they use any rhymes to help them remember?

Everyone had to be independent because they needed to decide which knots would be best for the task. How did they choose? Did they pick a knot they felt comfortable tying, or consider which are strongest and would hold best when pulled?

Everyone should congratulate the group for their hard work and think about practising the knots at home using string, wool or even a scarf.


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.

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.