Skip to main content
Supported by Trinity House

Paddle pile-up

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

You will 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.


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. 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.

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.


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

Make it accessible

All Scout activities should be inclusive and accessible.