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Prepare, prevent and control

Find out how to make your nights away safe and enjoyable for everyone. How will you manage risk?
Plan a session with this activity

You will need

  • Scrap paper
  • Pens or pencils
  • Football
  • Tennis ball
  • Tent (optional, for 'Weather the storm')

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.
  • This activity has three parts. ‘Introduce risk’ and ‘Play five stages’ together, then run the four bases alongside each other.
  • Remind yourself of the risk assessment guidance on Scouts’ website. The resources will give you the information and guidance you need to for ‘Introduce risk’ and ‘Play five stages’. You should already be familiar with the resources, as it’s essential that you risk assess before and during every activity.
  • Print off some copies of the Safety checklist for leaders. It’s a good way to give everyone the variety of risks, accidents, and incidents that have to be considered during regular meetings, trips, and nights away. Emphasise that it’s a list for adults, though – it’s not young people’s responsibility to start checking vehicle insurance!
  • Think about who you want to run the bases. You may want to invite someone from the Red Cross to run the ‘Campsite doctor’ base, for example. Some young people may also be able to run bases, for example, if anyone’s camped in extreme weather conditions, they could help the ‘Weather the storm’ base.

Introduce risk

  1. Everyone should split into pairs or small groups.
  2. Each group should choose an everyday incident that could occur at camp, for example, someone hurting their leg.
  3. Each group should turn their incident into a freeze frame.
  4. Once everyone’s ready, the groups should take it in turns to present their freeze frames and everyone else should guess what’s happened.
  5. The person leading the activity should explain that this is one way to come up with ideas of risks and hazards that people might need to watch out for.

Play five stages

  1. Everyone should stand in a circle, with a couple of metres between each person.
  2. Everyone should gently throw a football around the circle.
  3. Everyone should gently throw a tennis ball around the circle.
  4. Everyone should pretend the tennis ball’s become a bowling ball. They should continue to throw it around the circle, acting as though it were a bowling ball.
  5. Everyone should repeat step four, pretending the ball’s a hot potato, a ticking time bomb, and a live hedgehog.
  6. Everyone should come back together and think about how they responded.
  7. The person leading the activity should explain the five stages of Risk assessment made simple. Can people match their thoughts and actions to the stages?

For example:

  • People looked for hazards by watching out to see what was being thrown towards them.
  • People assessed who might be harmed (and how they might be harmed) by thinking about who was around them and how everyone might be affected by the object. This depended on what the object was.
  • People controlled risk by doing things like stepping away from their friends, so they didn’t elbow or step into them. They may also have changed how they threw and caught the ball when they were pretending it was something else.
  • People shared their findings by communicating with others – including sharing rules, expectations, and guidance before the game began and as it progressed.
  • People reviewed and revised their plans every time the object being thrown or the conditions around them changed.

Move around bases

  1. Everyone should split into four groups.
  2. Each group should start at a different base. They should spend some time getting stuck into the activities to learn the skills they need.
  3. The person leading the activity should let everyone know when it’s time to move on.
  4. Everyone should keep spending time at bases and moving on when the person leading the activity gives the signal, until they’ve been to all four bases.


This activity was all about living healthily. Risk is a part of everyone’s daily lives. Does anyone think it would be possible to have a totally risk-free night away? How does identifying and evaluating potential hazards help everyone to take care of their body and mind? Was anyone surprised by any of the bases? What should people think about when they’re deciding how much risk to expose themselves to?

This activity was also about problem solving. Assessing risk isn’t about finding things people can’t do – it’s about finding what people can do and finding ways to make things safe. What problem solving skills do people use when assessing risk? People might think about understanding the challenge (or risk) before thinking about solutions or considering different options before choosing the right solution.  


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.