Wide Game: Search and Rescue

I prepared a dramatic wide game for the Explorers with a military-style briefing and instructions. Obviously if you use this, you will have to adapt it for your locale.


The scenario was to locate a downed pilot using some clues. The first thing I did was find a suitable area (basically freedom to roam, no traffic and clear boundaries):

Woodland near Whitmoor & Rickford Commons

I had to let the Explorers know where to meet, at the previous meeting, so I gave them a location map for the rendezvous, a basic outline of the activity and a list of what to bring:

  • Torch (and spare batteries)
  • Warm, waterproof clothing
  • Suitable, sturdy footwear
  • Pen/pencil and paper with clipboard
  • Navigational compass
  • Wrist-watch or similar time-keeping device

The Scenario

The plan was to have four caches – one in each corner of the field. The Explorers would then find each cache and mark them on a map. They then draw lines between the caches and the point where they intersect would be the location of the pilot.

So, a couple of evenings beforehand, I walked the route to get an idea of timings (so it would fit into the two hours) and drop off the caches. I used my Garmin 62s GPS so I could mark off where I stowed the caches:

Download file: Track_2015-10-12 WIDE GAME.gpx

Jen had a great idea of using old pill containers for caches, which I did. Each cache contained a slip of paper that I had pre-printed beforehand for each team e.g. for the first cache:

I had to print them blank because I didn’t know where I was going to place each cache until I walked the route so I filled in the boxes as I stashed the slips in the cache. I didn’t hide the caches away too discretely because I knew the Explorers would have difficulty finding them. (I remember when I did a wide game in Network and the leader had buried the cache – how any of us were ever going to find that!)

When I got back home, some quick maths and I found where the lines intersected and this would be where the pilot could be found:

The Pilot

The pilot was a Pinocchio toy my Mum had given me, so I didn’t want him out there longer than needed (i.e. unlikely he’d be stumbled upon!). I dropped him off the rescues point just before the event started.

On the evening the Explorers were split into teams, each given the mission briefing (see page 2) and 2 hours to complete. The pilot was, fortunately, rescued.

There’s always a small risk that over-competitive young people will sabotage another team’s clue so it is better to utilise clues that aren’t collected e.g. words on a sign etc. but I didn’t have time to make up decoding riddles etc. This sort of game can get complicated so be prepared to give guidance or reduce the outcomes (e.g. give them maps instead of them constructing their own). A set route works well if you need to find missing people but this can also me teams catch up with one another – that’s not disastrous but you can adapt so different teams have to find different clues first – again, available time was prohibitive this time.

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