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Challenge in the post

Write to a pen pal in the local lingo and send them a challenge to find out more about Scouts in different cultures.
Plan a session with this activity

You will need

  • Pens or pencils
  • A4 paper
  • Envelopes
  • Tables
  • Chairs
  • Access to the internet
  • Smartphone, tablet or computer

In need of inspiration for your letters?

Head over to British Council and undertake this cultural communication challenge with your Scout pen pal.

The Great Languages Challenge >

Before you begin

  • Everyone in the group should think about languages that they learn about in school or use at home. If lots of people know some words of one language, see how everyone would feel about writing a letter in that tongue.
  • Connecting with people in other countries needs to be done safely and several weeks in advance of the session. Look at this guidance on international links before getting started, as well as brushing up on our safety and safeguarding procedures.
  • Get in touch with an international contact who speaks the language the group knows and let them know what you’re doing. Work out how long it should take for them to receive a letter from your local post office, and how long it might take for a reply to arrive.

Run the activity

  1. Write the address of your international contact on the front of the envelope. Set out tables and chairs with pens and paper, so everyone has space to sit and write. Keep back some spare paper in case anyone makes a mistake.
  1. Explain to everyone that they’ll be writing a letter to the international contact in the agreed-upon language. Have everyone start by writing between 100 and 150 words about who they are and suggesting some things that they’d like to know about the contact. If you need one, load up an online translating tool to help.
  1. Check on what everyone has done at this point. Make sure no-one has given away any personal details in their letter.
  2. Once everyone is happy with their letter so far, each person should write down a challenge for the contact to do once they receive the letter.
  1. Once everyone is happy with their challenges, each writer should finish off their letter with an invitation to receive their own challenge. Everyone should put the return address on the top left of the page and sign their name. If there’s time, everyone could decorate their letters.
  1. Collect up the letters, fold them in half and slip them into the envelope. Seal and post the envelope as soon as possible.


This activity is about bringing people together. How did setting the contact a challenge make you closer? Remember – you’re both part of the Scout movement, and probably have other things in common. What things did you (or will you) discover about the contact and their life? Exploring culture is all about discovering differences and things you have in common.


Online safety

Supervise young people when they’re online and give them advice about staying safe.

For more support around online safety or bullying, check out the NSPCC website. If you want to know more about specific social networks and games, Childnet has information and safety tips for apps.

As always, if you’ve got concerns about a young person’s welfare (including their online experiences), follow the Yellow Card reporting processes.

All activities must be safely managed. 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.