May 11

Activity - Learning Proper Compass Use

It's District Camp this weekend in Park Woods near Brighton. I've been racking my brains trying to come up with an original activities base for Scouts. In the end, I decided to do a base to cover compass bearings and orienteering. It is expected the Scouts have knowledge of the compass rose before attempting this exercise. They should know the cardinal and intercardinal points on a compass. The "compass rose" is the fairly common picture of a compass. It looks kind of like a star. Cardinal points are N, S, E & W and Intercardinal points are those in between, such as NE, SE, SW and NW. The Scouts should have previously learned the associated degree bearings for these points (N = 0 & 360 degrees, NE = 45 degrees, etc.). They should also understand magnetic north for the location of this activity.

At the start of the activity, the first Scout is to stand at the first cone and reads out a bearing from a sheet prepared by the leader (NE in this example), the Scout then turns to what he/she believes is NE and takes the required numbers of paces to a coloured floor spot. The Scout then marks down (on a record sheet) the colour of the floor spot and the number that has been written on a card and placed under the floor spot.

The Scouts then move to the next cone and repeats the procedure at each cone (read the bearing from the sheet, position themselves, record the colour of the first floor spot on this bearing)

Once the course is complete, each Scout must hand their record sheet to the leader who will mark their score and record the time it took to complete the course.


There are some variations that can be used in this exercise. You could use compass bearing such as 0 = N or 45 = NE etc to encourage good compass use. You could also reinforce compass direction and bearing use without a compass.

You could also use this exercise as a competition. e.g. 20 seconds added to total time for each missed colour. This is recorded on a penalty section of the record sheet.


Ensure the leader has prerecorded all the colours at each cone and hold the master sheet with all the answers.

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