Around the world in eight awesome games
You don’t have to leave your Scout meeting place to take your section to fascinating and far-off destinations; playing a game from another country can be a portal into a new world
Global games give young people an opportunity to look into another country’s customs and consider the lives of the people usually playing them. While sharing the joy from a faraway place, we discover that wherever we go, human beings connect through the power of play.
You can use these games to introduce young people to various cultures and support Beavers to work towards their International Activity Badge and all sections exploring the Global Programme.
You can adapt them to suit the ages, interests and abilities of your section. For instance, you could introduce the games to younger sections within a travel-themed structure: set out chairs or cardboard boxes in your meeting place as ‘seats on a plane’ and explain to your Beavers that, with these games, they’re jetting off to discover the world. Alternatively, fill a suitcase with objects relating to that country for Cubs to explore, or print pictures from the country where the game comes from and turn the prints into postcards.
For older sections, activities such as Kho-Kho promote physical and mental wellbeing, not to mention teamwork skills. Those with an interest in folk heritage and dance may enjoy mastering Tinikling. While those seeking quiet reflection, can lean happily into the therapeutic benefits of activities like Japanese origami. You can find amazing origami tips and other global activity ideas online but here are a few games to get you started.
Catch the Dragon’s Tail from China
In Chinese folklore dragons are legendary creatures. They symbolize profound power and control over natural forces such as floods and typhoons. The Emperor of China used the dragon as a symbol of his power and strength.
To play: players should form a human chain, placing their hands on the shoulders of the young person in front of them. The player at the front is the dragon’s head and the player at the back is the dragon’s tail. The aim is for the dragon’s head to tag the dragon’s tail, while the young people in between try and stop this from happening. When the head catches the tail, the head becomes the tail and the young person directly behind becomes the dragon’s head.
Luta de Galo from Brazil
Meaning ‘fight of the roosters’ in Portuguese, Luta de Galo is a two-person hopping game, faintly resembling rooster fighting. Once popular in Brazil, rooster fighting was thankfully banned in 1934 to protect animal rights. The fun and harmless hopping game however, lives on.
To play: two players tuck a necker or a scarf into a pocket or waistband (with enough cloth hanging out for the other player to grab). Both players must cross their dominant arm across their chest (they’re not allowed to use it). Hopping on one leg, they should both try to snatch the handkerchief from their opponent’s pocket – using only their non-dominant hand. If a player puts their other leg down or unfolds their dominant arm, they’re out. The player who successfully keeps their necker/scarf wins.
Go-Go-Im from Israel
During summer in Israel apricot trees burst with fresh fruit. After devouring the sweet flesh, young people use the apricots’ small smooth pits as ‘go-go’s. As the game requires a large amount of go-go’s, acorns or small stones could be used in place of apricot pits.
Each player needs a shoebox with six holes of various sizes cut into the lid. The smallest hole should be just a little bigger than the go-go, with the other holes increasing in size. Each hole has a point value, ranging from 1 for the largest to 100 for the smallest one.
To play: from about five feet away, a player must toss a pit into another player’s shoebox. If they succeed, the point value of the hole determines how many go-go’s that player must give him. If they miss completely, they have to give up that go-go to the box-holder.
Armenian Egg Jousting
Share the Armenian Easter egg cracking tradition with your young people. In advance, boil eggs (enough for everyone in your section) for about 20 minutes.
To play: two players face each other, each holding an egg in hand. Tap the smaller ends of the eggs together until one egg cracks. The player whose egg cracks first loses. The winner goes onto battle the next egg-wielder. At the end of the game, use the losing eggs for egg salad sandwiches.
Tinikling from the Philippines
Although similar to rope skipping, tinikling uses bamboo poles instead of rope, and once the movements are mastered, it is a beautiful dance. In fact, tinikling is the national dance of the Philippines. Its movements are inspired by the tikling bird – a bird that flits across the grass, dodging bamboo traps set by rice farmers.
As most of us don’t have a great deal of bamboo lying around, broomsticks make a good alternative.
To play: two players hold the broomsticks/bamboo poles while a third jumps in and out of the space between. The players holding the poles hit the poles on the floor, then raise them and then hit the poles together again, in a set rhythm. The jumper needs to hop over and outside the poles before the poles come together, being sure to keep in rhythm so that their feet are not caught out. Check out the online demonstration here.
Korbo from Ethiopia
Enjoyed in Ethiopia since 1900, this aiming game was originally played on horseback. Today, no horses required. What you will need is a 15m x 10m playing space, a hoop and a stick. Korbo is played in pairs – one sender and one thrower.
To play: the sender rolls the hoop in a straight line across the space. The thrower then throws a spear-like stick (with blunt ends) at the rolling hoop, from a distance of around 10m. The thrower gets two points if the throw stops the hoop, and one point if it touches the hoop but doesn’t stop it rolling. After three attempts the sender and thrower trade places. The player with the most points wins. To avoid accidents, make sure remaining players keep to the side when throwing takes place.
Australian Flag Puzzle Relay
The Australian Flag Puzzle Relay is a great way to familiarise young people with flags and their symbolism. And because this activity is enjoyed by Joey Scouts (Australia’s Beaver Scout section equivalent) too, it’s a great way of reminding your young people that through Scouts, they are part of a worldwide organisation.
Print two copies of the Australian flag and cut each flag into blocks that can be puzzled back together. Place them in two piles on one end of the meeting place, and ask the young people to stand on the other, divided into two teams. Give each team a dice. Both teams should roll their dice at the same time, rolling until they get a six. A six means they can run to get a puzzle piece. They should continue rolling until they’ve collected all the flag’s pieces and put it together again. The team with the first correctly completed flag wins.
Kho Kho from India
Originating on the Indian subcontinent, kho kho is a tag game so popular in South Asia that in 1987 The Asian Kho Kho Federation was established.
To play: two teams of nine players each play on a large flat space. The chasing team must sit in a line between two poles on the field, facing in alternate opposite directions. One chaser stays standing.
The running team are positioned outside the playing field and enter in groups of three. When the first three runners enter the field, the standing chaser runs, in only one direction, around the poles, to tag a runner. If a runer crosses the line to the other side, the chaser must tap the back of one of their seated teammates and shout ‘kho’, so that teammate can take their place and continue the chase.
Chasers can only move in one direction but runners can move in any direction to avoid being tagged. When all three runners are tagged, three new runners enter. When seven-nine minutes are up (or all the runners have been tagged), the first half of the game ends and the teams switch roles.
The chasing team gets a point for each runner tagged. The team with the most points wins (or the team that tags all opponents in the shortest time). For further instructions, watch this demonstration online.