- Ordnance Survey maps of the local area, one per group
- Waterproof map case, one per group
- Compass, one per group
- Hiking supplies, per person
- Spare equipment
- Means of transportation
- A fully-charged mobile phone with GPS and a good signal range, one per group
- A white envelope
Before you begin
- The person leading the activity should plan out some hikes for the group to do in teams, each accompanied by an adult. Use the Ordnance Survey (OS) map to plot the routes. Each route should begin at a place in the countryside or an unfamiliar urban area, and end at the meeting place. Each route should also have three checkpoints that should be visited along the way. All of the routes should be straightforward for the group to follow using a clean OS map of their own. Double check that each hike is a suitable length and difficulty for your group, and that the weather conditions will be suitable for outdoor activities.
- Mark the meeting place on each OS map that will be used by the teams. It should be up to them to work out where they are in relation.
- Inform everybody that they’ll be hiking in advance and remind them to bring all their gear, some snacks and water.
Run the activity
- The person leading the activity should split the group into teams. Explain that they’ll be doing a hike and to check that they all have the hiking gear, snacks and water they’ll need. Give out an OS map, compass and map case to each group. Ask and see if anyone is missing anything, as there may be a spare item they can use.
When making teams, try to put members of the group together who will compliment one another’s skills. Don’t put all the strongest hikers or best map-readers in one team.
- Assign at least one adult or leader to each group. Give the adult or leader in each team the mobile phone, some blindfolds and the white envelope. The adult or leader should put the phone in the envelope and put it in their bag. Advise each adult that they shouldn’t help their teams unless they really need it and to let their team take the lead.
Accompanying adults or leaders should intervene in the event of an emergency. They should use the phone in the envelope to call for help.
- Arrange for each team to be driven to their starting point and dropped off, with their accompanying adult or leader. On the way, the adult or leader should give out blindfolds and ask all members of their team to put them on. Once the vehicle has arrived at the start point, blindfolds may be removed and left in the vehicle, or worn if they’re scarves. The driver should drop everyone off and return to the meeting place.
- Each team should use their OS map to work out where they are, without their adult or leader’s help.
- If people are confused and feel disorientated, don’t worry! This is part of the activity. If they saw the vehicle that dropped them off departing, or can still hear its engine, they should have a clue of which way to go to begin with.
- Each team should use their map and compass to work out which way they should go to get back to the meeting place, via the three checkpoints. Each team must have visited all three checkpoints before heading to the meeting place. Each adult or leader should make sure they do this.
This activity helps contribute towards some of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals. Find out more about the SDGs, and how Scouts across the world are getting involved.
The group has had to find their way from an unfamiliar place back to the world they know. What was it like to take off your blindfold and find yourself somewhere strange? Were you able to think clearly? How did you work together to figure out a route to the checkpoints that also took you towards the end point?
When someone loses their home, they find themselves in a similar situation. Often, a homeless person might have to spend time in a place they don’t know. What would it be like to be back in that strange place without the map? What if you were alone and it was getting dark? You would probably go the wrong way and find yourself in more new places, as the teams did when they visited their checkpoints on the hike. This can be dangerous for the unprepared. How reassuring was it to have your team with you, your gear and an adult with a phone?
- Outdoor activities
You must have permission to use the location. Always check the weather forecast, and inform parents and carers of any change in venue.
This activity has specific rules and systems to make sure it’s managed safely. Take a look at adventure activities for more guidance.
- Hiking and walking
- Near water
Manage groups carefully when near water. The guidance on activities near water will help you to keep your group safe.
- Road safety
Manage groups carefully when near or on roads. Consider adult supervision and additional equipment (such as lights and high visibility clothing) in your risk assessment.
Tougher, longer hikes may be appropriate for older groups with hiking and orienteering experience. Make shorter, easier routes for younger groups, in places like towns where the terrain is more level.
This activity would need to be adapted for those with mobility and sensory issues. Urban hikes will be far easier for wheelchair users. However, the countryside might be quieter and less overwhelming for someone with sensory differences. Plan your group’s routes accordingly.
All Scout activities should be inclusive and accessible.