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Rafting relays

It’s time to put the raft you built to the test. Which team will complete the challenge and get back first?

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You’ll need

  • Raft-building equipment
  • Relay specific equipment (see instructions)

Before you begin

  • This activity’s designed for when you’re spending time on the water. It was created for traditional rafting, but you could adapt it for other flatwater adventures.
  • You’ll need to finish making your traditional raft first, then use this activity to have fun putting it to the test. Make sure everyone’s rafts are secure before you get stuck into the relays – it’s much less fun if they fall to pieces straight away.

Check out our adventure to find out more about Traditional rafting.

  • We’ve included a few different options – if you’re using a puzzle or riddle, make sure the people leading the activity know the solution so they can offer helpful hints if teams get stuck.

Inspired relays

  • A relay is just a race between teams where people take it in turns to cover parts of the total distance. You can go back and forth across the same area: teams go from the start line to an agreed marker, then turn around and head back to the start line to tag a teammate in.
  • You don’t even have to tag team members in. If everyone in each team fits on the raft to begin with, you can play without swapping who’s on board.
  • Blindfold half of the people on each raft – they’ll have to put their trust in their teammates to direct them.
  • Encourage people not to panic if they fall in the water when they’re blindfolded – their buoyancy aid is there to keep them safe, and their friends will help them too. If they fall in, they should take off their blindfold (but keep hold of it so it doesn’t sink).

The details will depend on where you’re rafting – does the lake have any islands or other features the groups could paddle around? Leaders and helpers in their own boats on the water also make excellent obstacles. If you’ve got enough adults, you could hold up a rope or paddle for teams to limbo beneath.

Scatter floating objects (such as balls or swimming noodles) around the lake. The teams should retrieve them one at a time, taking them back to an agreed spot on land. If you wanted to, people could also swim or paddle out and act as though they need ‘rescuing’ one by one.

  • Set up the puzzle on one side of the lake – after each move, groups have to paddle back to the start line (and swapping in teammates, if they need to) before returning to the puzzle to make their next move.
  • You’ll need three hoops and three posts in for each team. A simple video on How to play, solve, and make a Tower of Hanoi may be the easiest way to understand the puzzle and its solution.
  • Put the posts in a line facing the lake. You don’t need to label them, but for the sake of explaining the puzzle we’ll call them the start post, middle post, and final post.
  • If the hoops aren’t different sizes, label them one, two, and three. Put the biggest hoop (or hoop number three) on the bottom of the start post. Put hoop two on top of hoop three, and hoop one on top of hoop two.
  • The goal is to move the stack, as it appears, to the final post. You can never put a hoop on top of a smaller hoop (or a hoop with a lower number).

The puzzle can be solved in seven moves:

  1. Move hoop one onto the final post.
  2. Move hope two onto the middle post.
  3. Move hoop one onto the middle post.
  4. Move hoop three onto the final post.
  5. Move hoop one onto the start post.
  6. Move hoop two onto the final post.
  7. Move hoop one onto the final post.
  • This challenge needs people to move back and forward across the lake to solve a riddle, so there’s no need to keep going back to a start line. You’ll need three items to represent a fox, a chicken, and a sack of grain.
  • The riddle: A farmer needs to get a fox, a chicken, and a sack of grain across the water. They have a boat, but it’s only big enough to carry them and one other thing (either the fox, the chicken, or the grain). If the fox and chicken are left together, the fox will eat the chicken. If the chicken and grain are left together, the chicken will eat the grain. Can you show the farmer how they can get all three things across the water?

The riddle can be solved in seven moves. In this explanation, we’ll talk about the ‘starting bank’ and the ‘end bank’.

  1. Take the chicken across the river to the end bank (the fox and grain are safe together).
  2. Leave the chicken on its own on the end bank and take the boat back to the start bank.
  3. Take the fox across the river to the end bank.
  4. Leave the fox on its own on the end bank and bring the chicken back to the start bank.
  5. Leave the chicken on its own on the start bank and take the grain across to the end bank.
  6. Leave the grain and the fox on the end bank and take the boat back to the start bank.
  7. Take the chicken to the end bank.

You can replace the animals and food with whatever you like, for example, you could have a wolf, a goat, and a cabbage, or a cat, a fish, and some fish food!


This activity was all about being active. How were the races different from other relay races people may have done before? People might think about how moving on a raft is slower, or how the team had to work together every step (or paddle) of the way, rather than taking it in turns to go it alone.

Succeeding in the relays also needed people to be team players. How did people make decisions and communicate with each other? How did they decide who would sit where? People may have considered everyone’s skills to help them position themselves on the raft.


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.

Water games and activities

Be careful when doing activities with, in, or near water. Check surfaces and reduce the risk of slipping where possible. Make sure you have appropriate supervision for this activity.

If you’re using a large lake (and securely made raft) you could challenge people to take the longest route across or travel around the perimeter of the lake.

Not everyone needs to be blindfolded in blindfolded buddies, so anyone who doesn’t feel comfortable could be a buddy and help their blindfolded friends. Anyone who wants to give it a go but is feeling unsure could just keep their eyes tightly closed instead – this will probably make falling in less scary too, as people can just open their eyes. 

All Scout activities should be inclusive and accessible.

If people are keen (and can build rafts that are up to the challenge) consider taking your rafts on a longer trip. Make sure you know about permits and guidance for the class of water you’ll travel on by reviewing the safety information in Traditional rafting.

Young people should be able to choose which of the races they’d like to try. It’s fine if you need to remove one of the relays, for example, because you can’t access the equipment, but let them know all of the options available, chat, and come to their own decision. They could also make their own suggestions for ways to put their rafts to the test.