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Getting coordinated

Learn how longitude and latitude shape how the land lies, and coordinate your search to find loads of loot!

You will need

  • Access to the internet
  • Scrap paper
  • Pens or pencils
  • Something to mark lines (for example, chalk, masking tape, or rope)
  • Screen or projector
  • Prizes

Before you begin

  • This activity requires at least three leaders and helpers, and more will be needed for larger groups. Make sure you have enough support to keep the correct ratio of adults to young people and to make the activity work. Remember to pick up some goodies to award as prizes!
  • Bring up an image of a latitude-longitude globe on a tablet or computer. You could also print one and project it onto a screen. Here’s some you could use: a detailed image and a blank one for more of a challenge.
  • Draw out some grids of squares or rectangles. Make latitude and longitude cards by writing out some coordinates in each square or rectangle, using the latitude-longitude globe image to choose ones that cover various countries. Make as many or as little as are needed for your group to enjoy. (Bear in mind that points near borders could be shared by more than one country).
  • Write out each coordinate on a separate slip of paper, and place these in a bag. Shuffle them around.
  • Write the name of each country that you’ve got coordinates for on a separate envelope. Fill each envelope with prizes and seal them. Place all of the envelopes in a second bag and shuffle these around.
  • Mark out two grids on your meeting place floor. Each square needs to be large enough for a person to stand in. A five-by-five-size grid works well. Number both grids with chalk or a sticky note, with each row on the y-axis ascending in 10s from the bottom left and each column on the x-axis ascending in 50s from the bottom left. The numbers running up are ‘northings’ and those running across are ‘eastings’.

Run the activity

  1. Explain to everyone the differences between ordnance survey coordinates and longitude and latitude coordinates.


  1. Place the bag of latitude and longitude coordinates on one side of the activity area. This should be on the other side of the room to your device, computer or projection showing the image of the latitude-longitude globe. A helper or leader should stand with the device, computer or projector, holding the bag of envelopes with countries on them.
  2. Split into two teams. Each team should line up behind one of the grids on the floor. Each team should be allocated a leader or helper.
  1. For this game, each team’s leader or helper should call out a grid reference. The person at the front of each team line should step into the square on their grid where they think that grid reference would be on a map grid. If this is chosen correctly, the second person in line may pick a latitude and longitude coordinate from that bag and the first person should go to the back of their line. If this is chosen incorrectly, the first person should go to the back of their line and the second person should try to guess the grid reference. Continue in this way until a grid reference is correctly guessed.
  2. When a player collects a latitude and longitude coordinate card, they should try to guess which country lies at those coordinates. To do this, they may use the image of the latitude-longitude globe. If they guess the right country, they are awarded the envelope with that country’s name on to share with their team. If they guess the wrong country, that person should go to the back of their team line and the person at the front of that line must guess a grid reference again.
  3. Continue in this way until all of the envelopes have been collected and prizes shared out.


This activity explored two ways of describing a location on a map. The key difference between these two systems is that a six-figure grid reference used in an OS map actually refers to a 100m square, whereas a coordinate using latitude and longitude refers to a more precise point. This is why activities like geocaching will use coordinates, while activities that require less precise navigation and make use of landmarks and terrain more will use grid references. Ask everyone to list some ways they might use grid references and latitude and longitude coordinates. People might suggest when hiking, taking part in or creating scavenger hunts or in future careers as pilots or captains. They’re both pretty handy if you ever get stranded somewhere too!


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.

Make it accessible

All Scout activities should be inclusive and accessible.