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Volunteering at Scouts is changing to help us reach more young people

Volunteering is changing to help us reach more young people

Volunteering is changing at Scouts. Read more

Discover what this means

Leader lottery

Choose a game and add it to the hat to find out when you’ll put your leadership skills to the test.

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You’ll need

  • Scrap paper
  • Pens or pencils
  • Container or bag

Before you begin

  • Make sure you have enough paper for everyone to have one each. The pieces only need to be big enough for someone’s name and the name of a game.
  • You can use a bag, hat, or empty container (for example, an ice cream tub).
  • It’s up to you whether you ‘Choose a game’ and ‘Lead and play’ in the same meeting, or whether you choose what to play in the next meeting. It’ll probably depend on how much preparation and equipment people’s chosen games have.

Fill the bag

  1. The person leading the game should give everyone a piece of scrap paper and a pen or pencil.
  2. Everyone should write their name on their piece of paper.
  3. Everyone should think about all of the games they know. They should choose one they’d like to lead this term. It could be a game everyone’s played together, or a new game they’ve played somewhere else. See our list of team games for ideas.

It’s OK if anyone doesn’t want to lead on their own – they could work in a pair with someone and choose a game to lead together.

  1. Everyone should fold their paper and put it into the bag.

Choose a game

  1. The person leading the activity should choose one piece of paper from the bag. They should unfold it, and read out the game and the name of the person who chose it. This person is the game leader, and they’ll get the chance to lead their game for everyone else.
  2. The person leading the activity should check with the game leader that they’re still happy to lead the game.

If they’re not, set their paper aside and choose someone else. Later, have a chat with the person who didn’t want to be the game leader to find out why they changed their mind and what you can both do to make it work.

  1. If the game leader is happy to lead the game, the person leading the activity should help them plan and prepare. They should think about any equipment they might need, make sure the rules make sense, and make sure the game is accessible for everyone.

You may want to plan how the game leader will lead, too. Do they want to stand up on their own, or have a friend or adult with them?

  1. The person leading the activity should sort out any equipment or preparation they need to before it’s time to ‘Lead and play’.

Lead and play

  1. The person leading the activity should check that the game leader feels ready to go, and make sure they have any equipment or helpers that they need.
  2. Everyone should gather together, and the person leading the activity should remind them that the game leader was chosen by the leader lottery.
  3. The game leader should explain the instructions and rules, and lead everyone as they play the game.

You can support the game leader as needed, but let them take control. You may want to keep an eye on the time, and on people’s behaviour, so the game leader can focus on the game itself.

  1. Everyone should remember to listen carefully and be respectful, like they do whenever anyone else is talking or leading.
  2. Once the game has finished, the game leader should close their eyes and choose another piece of paper from the bag. They’ve chosen the next game leader from the leader lottery.
  3. Everyone should repeat steps two to four from ‘Choose a game’ and all the steps from ‘Lead and play’. Everyone should keep repeating these steps over lots of meetings, until the leader lottery bag is empty.


This activity gives everyone the chance to develop their leadership skills, as long as you keep going until everyone’s had a turn at being game leader. Everyone also practiced being respectful when others were leading. The game leader might like to lead this reflection too. After each game, everyone should take it in turns to share their ideas about what makes a good leader. How can players make it easier for leaders to lead? People could think about listening carefully, being patient, or asking sensible questions politely. If anyone has any positive examples from this activity, that’s great!

Separately, the person leading the activity should chat with the game leader. You could do it in front of everyone, if the game leader wants to. What were the best bits and the trickiest bits about being the leader? Would they do anything differently if they led another game? Well done to the game leader for giving it a go.


All activities must be safely managed. You must complete a thorough risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. 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. Take a look at our guidance on running active games safely.

Contact games and activities

Make sure everyone understands what contact is acceptable, and monitor contact throughout the activity.

No one has to lead a game. People can lead in pairs or small groups if they want to. If anyone thinks that they don’t want to lead a game, but then they change their mind, they can add their idea to the bag later on. All of the games should be accessible for everyone – help people adapt them if needed.

All Scout activities should be inclusive and accessible.

If anyone’s a born leader (or if they’ve worked really hard to become one), they could try running a larger activity or teaching everyone else about something interesting.

This game’s all about the young people’s choices. The game they choose to lead is entirely up to them.