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Flysheet storytelling

Pitch a tent to set the scene, then cast some silhouettes together.
Plan a session with this activity

You will need

  • Clean items of recycling
  • Big pieces of paper
  • Sticky tack
  • Scissors
  • Scrap card
  • Pens or pencils
  • Torch or phone
  • Camera or phone
  • Tents
  • Mallets
  • Torches
  • Wooden skewers

Choose your equipment

  • Lightweight tents work best for this – choose ones designed for two, three, or four people. You’ll need one tent for each small group; it doesn’t matter if they’re not the same model or size.
  • You could ask to borrow tents if you don’t have enough – other volunteers, friends and family, or other local groups may be able to help. Let people know what you’ll be using the tents for.
  • Check the tents before you begin, so you know there aren’t any missing or broken parts.
  • Ask people to collect clean, dry, recycling and bring it with them so you have enough. Sweet wrappers or cellophane are fun as they cast pretty colours.
  • It may be helpful to have some photos or books for inspiration – for example, pictures of past adventures, or books about expeditions.

Before you begin

  • If you want this activity to count towards the Scouts Outdoor Challenge Award, you’ll need to do it during a night away.
  • Decide where you’ll pitch your tents. Ideally, you’ll be spread out but you could do it indoors or outdoors, as long as it’s dry.
  • If you need to remind yourself about types of tents and tent pitching, Scout Adventures have some really helpful resources. They also have videos about pitching a tent, organising a tent, and striking a tent.
  • Have recycling bags handy so you can get rid of unwanted bits of recycling as you’re making your silhouettes. If you’re not sure what can be recycled in the area you’re doing the activity, check out Recycle Now’s recycling locator.

Pitch the tent

  1. Everyone should split into small groups.
  2. Each group should find a suitable piece of flat ground or floor to pitch their tent. They should make sure there’s plenty of space between them and any other groups – including enough space to move the poles around safely.
  1. Each group should clear the area of any obstacles.
  2. Everyone should follow the manufacturer’s instructions for their tent to pitch it. Not everyone will need to be ‘hands on’ all of the time – some people may want to direct or check the instructions.


Set the scene

  1. Each group should take their shoes off and spend a couple of minutes experimenting with how they can use torches to cast shadow animals in a tent. They should use their hands to make shapes for now – it’s just a practise so everyone understands the concept.
  1. Each group should leave their tent and think about a theme for their scene. They should focus on something to do with exploration and outdoor adventure, for example, a rafting adventure, climbers scaling a mountain, or a cosy camping scene.
  1. Once each group has an idea, they should use a big sheet of paper to finalise their design. They should also jot down what they’ll use to create each aspect.
  2. Each group should use the recyclable materials, scrap card, and scrap paper to create a scene. They shouldn’t use scissors inside (or near) the tents.
  3. Everyone should think about how they’ll secure their non-moving scene so it stays upright on its own. Pushing the skewers into sticky tack often works, as the sticky tack acts as a weighted base.
  4. Everyone should take photos of their creations.
  5. Once they’re finished, everyone should take their creations apart carefully and lay them flat so they can be put up again later. It’s best not to sleep in tents with creations up, in case they get squashed.
  6. At the end of the event, when their creations won’t be used again, they should completely dismantle everything and recycle as much as they can.


This activity was all about developing skills. Pitching and striking a tent is one of the most important camping skills. This activity gave it a creative twist: did people enjoy having another purpose for their tent, as well as it being somewhere to sleep? Did it make them think about how they used it for other activities? For example, it may have helped them think about pitching it really well, or encouraged them to become familiar with storage areas. How else could people use creative activities to help them gain useful outdoor skills? For example, a bit of creative storytelling could make first aid practise more fun.

The activity also needed people to be team players. Which part of this activity needed the most teamwork? Did people find it easier to work together on some tasks than others? Did people take on different roles in the team? For example, the people most familiar with pitching tents might not have been full of creative ideas for shadow scenes.


Poles and long objects

Be careful when moving poles or long items. Take care if the ends are sharp. Have appropriate supervision for this activity.


Supervise young people appropriately when they’re using scissors. Store all sharp objects securely, out of the reach of young people

Rubbish and recycling

All items should be clean and suitable for this activity.

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.