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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

The best bridge

Build the strongest bridge you can then put it to the test.

Back to Activities

You’ll need

  • Scrap paper
  • Paper cups
  • Sticky tape
  • Scissors
  • Coins (or other small weights)

Before you begin

  • Cut a few short pieces of sticky tape for each person – it’ll be much quicker if you do this in advance.
  • Place two upside down cups about 15cm apart where everyone can see, this will be the gap that people’s bridges need to cross.
  • Decide whether you’ll build an example bridge to give everyone some ideas.

Story time

  1. Everyone should sit in a circle.
  2. Someone should read Beaver's Bridge by Annabel Rose. This story is about working together and making new friends.
  3. After reading the story, everyone should take some time to reflect on it as a group. We’ve included some questions to help you reflect in the pink box below.

Fox, Squirrel, and Badger lived near the big oak tree in the woods. They had lots of fun playing together and sharing tasty snacks.

One day they were playing hide and seek. Squirrel climbed to the very top of a tall tree and sat quietly in the branches. She was watching the river, which flowed through the middle of the woods, when she saw something moving on the other side. She realised it was another squirrel, just like her!

The game of hide and seek was forgotten. Squirrel ran down the tree, calling for Badger and Fox.

‘I saw another squirrel!’ she told them. ‘On the other side of the river. I hope we can be friends.’

‘Well, how do we ask them?’ said Badger.

‘I know!’ said Fox. ‘IS THERE ANYONE OVER THERE?’ he shouted. Squirrel and Badger laughed – his little voice sounded very different as it echoed around the forest. But no one replied.

‘We could paddle across…’ Badger began.

‘No!’ Squirrel interrupted. ‘We’re not allowed to go into the river without a grown-up. It’s not safe.’

‘Fine,’ said Fox. ‘We could send a letter?’ What a good idea! The three friends got some paper, wrote a friendly note, and drew lots of smiley faces.

‘Perfect!’ said Badger. ‘But how will we get it across the water?’

‘I know,’ said Squirrel. ‘Let’s turn it into a paper plane.’ She sat down and folded the paper into an impressive plane. Squirrel took a deep breath and launched her plane across the river. It glided through the air… until it started to fall. With a plop it landed in the water and began to float away.

‘Hmm,’ said Badger. ‘That floated quite well – what about a boat?’ The animals got some twigs and leaves and built a little boat. They popped the note inside and launched it. The boat was almost halfway across the river when it bumped into a big rock, tipped upside down, and began to sink.

‘This is hopeless!’ cried Fox. ‘None of our ideas are going to work!’  

‘What’s happening?’ asked Beaver, a friendly grown-up.

Squirrel, Fox, and Badger told Beaver all about the squirrel they’d seen on the other side of the river. One by one, they explained how they’d thought about shouting, paddling, sending a plane, and making a boat.

‘What about a bridge?’ suggested Beaver.

‘A bridge would be brilliant!’ said Squirrel. ‘But how would we make one of those?’

‘Be patient, and I’ll see what I can do,’ smiled Beaver.

The next morning they went back to the river. As they got nearer, they saw something in the water. Beaver and all her friends had built a bridge!

‘It’s a special kind of bridge, called a dam,’ Beaver said.

‘Thank you!’ Squirrel, Fox and Badger called. They ran over the dam to explore the other side of the forest and make new friends.

By Annabel Rose

Building bridges

  1. The person leading the activity should give everyone a couple of pieces of scrap paper and a few short pieces of sticky tape.
  1. The person leading the activity should show everyone the two cups and explain that everyone will build a bridge to go between the cups.
  1. Everyone should build a bridge that they could place across the gap between the two cups. They can get creative and fold, scrunch, or roll their paper as they cups try to make a strong bridge that will hold as many coins as possible.

The suspense

  1. Everyone should take it in turns to pick up their bridge and lay it across the two cups to test it.
  2. The person testing their bridge should slowly place coins on their bridge until it falls down.
  1. Everyone should chat about the bridges. Were any really successful? What sort of things made some bridges stronger?


This activity encouraged everyone to problem-solve and be more independent as they came up with their own bridge designs and tried them out.

Beaver's Bridge

  • Why is it good to try different ways of achieving something?
  • How did everyone work together to get to the other side of the river?

Building bridges

  • Was it hard to think of a good idea for a bridge?
  • Was it fun to make the paper into different shapes and see how they worked?

The suspense

  • Did people find it exciting to put the coins on their bridge?
  • Was it fun to see how many coins each bridge could hold?


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.


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

  • It’s up to you (and your group) whether people work on their own, in pairs, or in small groups.
  • If some people are finding it difficult to think of an idea or build their own bridge, adults should show them some simple ways to get started, like folding the paper to make it stronger.
  • You could make the challenge trickier by moving the cups further apart or using heavier weights.

Make sure that everyone can be involved – you could start by showing everyone some simple ways to make a bridge or helping them to get started.

All Scout activities should be inclusive and accessible.

What else could you make a bridge out of? Have a look around at home for things that might make good bridges, and test them out to see how they work.

Some people may struggle to come up with and make their own designs. Encourage everyone to have a go on their own, then help them to build a bridge they feel proud of.