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Paddle pile-up

Can you choose the right items for canoeing or kayaking in different types of weather?

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You’ll need

  • Scissors
  • Whistles
Clothing and equipment images and clues
PDF – 448.9KB

Before you begin

  • Gather the items or cut out images of them from the ‘Clothing and equipment images and clues’ sheet.
  • Put the items or images in a pile in the middle of your meeting place.

Think about the weather

  1. Everyone should think about how the clothing worn when paddling needs to be appropriate for the weather.
    • How many items of clothing can you think of that might need to change?
    • What might some challenges be for paddling in very hot, cold, windy or wet conditions?
  1. Spilt the group into teams of between four and six people and give each a type of weather.

Lay down the rules

  1. One person from each team is the ‘paddler’.
  1. Everyone else will be taking turns to go to the pile and find a piece of clothing (or an image) they think would be suitable for the team’s weather type.
  2. There are seven rounds in total. Each round starts when the whistle is blown.
  3. Teams have 60 seconds to send one member to the pile, find an item, and have their paddler put it on (or keep hold of the image). If the paddlers also want to run and find items, they should do so in the first round.

Dress to impress

  1. Once the game ends and each paddler is dressed in a complete outfit of seven items (or holding seven images), each team should describe the items of clothing and equipment they chose. They should explain why they chose each item and how it protects the paddler from the weather.
  2. The person leading the game should read out the explanation from the ‘Answers’ below.
  3. Each team should talk about the items they saw but didn’t use, and why they chose not to use them. The person leading the game should use the answers list to help everyone understand why the incorrect items are unsuitable for paddling.
  4. If the teams used real life jackets or buoyancy aids they should:
    • Look at the fit. Do they think it is fitted correctly? If not, what needs to be changed?
    • Show how to fit a life jacket correctly.
    • Talk through the different features of the life jacket.
    • Take turns to try the life jackets on and test whether they fit correctly. If possible, make different sized jackets available so everyone can try one that is the correct size for them.
  1. If the teams used an image of a lifejacket or buoyancy aid, talk through how to fit a life jacket and its different features.

Cold weather

  • Life jacket or buoyancy aid (Keeps you afloat in case you fall into the water.)
  • Old trainers or water shoes (Wear shoes you don’t mind getting wet. These give good grip and protect your feet, especially when getting in and out of the boat.)
  • Hat (To keep your head warm.)
  • Long-sleeved top (Choose a synthetic material as cotton soaks up water and takes a long time to dry out.)
  • Trousers (Keeps you warm. Don’t choose denim jeans or heavy materials as they won’t dry out.)
  • Waterproof jacket or cag. (Helps keep you and your clothes dry and warm.)
  • Fleece or jumper (Keeps you warm under the waterproof outer layer.)
  • Paddling gloves (Keeps your hands warm. Helps you to grip the paddle and avoid blisters.)
  • Thermals or base layers (Keeps you warm by trapping air between layers of clothing.)

Hot weather

  • Life jacket or buoyancy aid (Keeps you afloat in case you fall into the water.)
  • Old trainers, water shoes or water sandals (Wear shoes you don’t mind getting wet. These give good grip and protect your feet, especially when getting in and out of the boat.)
  • Sunhat or cap (A wide brim sunhat is best as it provides sun protection for the face, neck and shoulders.)
  • T-shirt or long-sleeved top (Choose a lightweight sports or rash top as cotton soaks up water and takes a long time to dry out. Long-sleeved tops can protect against the sun.)
  • Shorts or trousers (Keeps you cool, or can help to keep the sun off your legs. Don’t choose denim shorts or heavy materials as they won’t dry out.)
  • Waterproof jacket or cag (Optional, as it can help you stay dry but will also may you hotter.)
  • Sunglasses and strap (Eye protection from the sun. The strap ensures your glasses can’t fall into the water.)
  • Paddling gloves (Helps you to grip the paddle and avoid blisters.)


  • Single-bladed paddle (Canoeing uses a single-bladed paddle.)
  • Double-bladed paddle (Kayaking uses a double-bladed paddle.)

Incorrect items

  • Jewellery (Can fall off into the water and get lost. Can be unsafe if it gets caught on anything.)
  • Flip-flops (Don’t wear any shoes that might fall off and get lost in the water, as your feet need protection when you get in and out of the boat.)
  • Jeans (Jeans get heavy when they get wet, and can soak up a lot of water. This can weigh you down if you fall into the water. They also take a long time to dry out, which can make you cold.)
  • Wellies (Can get filled with water and will weigh you down if you fall in the water.)
  • Umbrella (You cannot hold an umbrella and paddle. Wear waterproofs to help stay dry.)


This game helped everyone to work as a team, focusing on a goal for the team and encouraging everyone to play their part towards that goal. How well did your team work together? Did you achieve your goal? How did you talk to each other in your team? Did you all agree on each decision?

This game also helped you think about the outdoors, and how to stay safe on the water when conditions change. What did you learn about making sure clothing is appropriate for the weather? What did you learn about life jackets and buoyancy aids? Do you think you need to prepare to be able to enjoy the outdoors?


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.


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

  • If you think the group will struggle to know what items might be needed, talk to everyone beforehand or give them a list of clues (we’ve made some suggestions to get you started) to help them to work it out as a team.
  • Add extra rounds to allow the group to change any items they think are incorrect, or to give them a chance to find extra items.
  • Change the amount of time the group has to search for items in the pile.
  • If you don't have any of the real clothing and equipment available, use images of the items.

Make it accessible

All Scout activities should be inclusive and accessible.