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By K. Graham Thomson

The sword of the Lord and of Gideon!

That was the shout that rang out round the camp of the Midianites in the middle of one night; and when they rushed out of their tents they saw scores and scores (they could not count or guess how many), of bright lights all round them, and heard a terrific blare of trumpets. You may read about this successful night attack by a small force of the Children of Israel, led by Gideon, in the seventh chapter of the Book of Judges.

Gideon's bit of Night Scouting is interesting because it is the only instance of it in the Bible that I can call to mind. The story can be adapted quite easily for a modem Night Scouting stunt. It is very suitable for a night raid on another Troop's camp, so I had best say a few words about camp raiding before I describe this stunt.

Camp Raiding

Our Rules include this one: "Camp raiding is strictly prohibited." That is all it says; but it is generally taken to mean that an unexpected night attack by a Troop in camp on another Troop camping near is prohibited when the attackers go and knock tents down on top of sleeping brother Scouts and then run away, or indulge in a free-for-all among the tent stakes.

That is obviously wise. It is really no joke being awakened by a damp and heavy tent settling down on you; young Scouts are liable to panic, and older ones to lose tempers, and there is considerable danger of some bloke being smothered, or cutting himself open on a tent-stake.

But the rule is not intended to debar us from Night Scouting games and practices, and properly organized camp raiding can be good fun. It must be arranged beforehand by the Scouters, in charge of the two Troops, who will see that all Scouts get a long rest during the preceding day, and a long rest the following day, to make up for their being out of bed during some part of the night. The game must not last too long, or begin too late. With those conditions, however, there is not likely to be any objection raised by anybody; and everyone concerned will thoroughly enjoy themselves.

The Gideon Game

Now for the "Gideon Game," which is fine for an Inter-Troop camp raid.

The two camps must be a couple of miles apart, or, say, one mile in a straight line. If they are too near each Troop must be given a roundabout route so that both cover about the same distance, a couple of miles, to reach the enemy camp.

Three or four Scouts, or a Patrol, will stay in their own camp as sentries, armed with electric torches. The others of each Troop will carry a rucksack or a canvas bucket, in which is an electric torch or flashlight, or a small lighted lantern; the latter is better, because more difficult to carry, provided it can be done without risk of fire. Each also has a whistle.

At a previously fixed time each Troop's attacking party will set out towards the other camp, led by a T.L. or PL; Scouters will be umpires. The object of each party is to surround the camp of the " Midianites " without being observed by either the other attacking party or the sentries left behind in the camp.

On arriving within creeping distance of the enemy camp, the attacking party, under its leader's directions, will spread out and surround the camp. When the " Gideon " (leader) thinks all his men are in position he blows his whistle and at once all his men blow their whistles and uncover their lamps.

Meanwhile, any member of the attacking party on its way to the attack, or any sentry in a camp, who sees or hears anything suspicious, must direct his light on it and blow a short blast on his whistle. An umpire will then come and investigate ; points are awarded or deducted according to the correctness (or otherwise) of the whistler. Anyone thus caught loses a point and carries on in the game.

When a camp has been attacked, the whistles blown and lights displayed, the camp umpire notes the time, for comparison afterwards with the time of the attack on the other camp. He then paces the distance from the nearest attacker to the center of the attacked camp. The same is done when the other camp is attacked and points reckoned accordingly. There should be a time limit to the game so that it does not go too slowly or last too long to tire folks out, and so that camps may settle down to sleep again at a reasonable hour.

A spot of hot cocoa would probably be acceptable at the end of the game.

Note: I have not removed the following games centered around fireworks in the off-chance that they might inspire new games that employ some non-combustible substitute for firecrackers, rockets, and flares.  Please let me know if you have any suggestions!

Rocket Raid

Fireworks can be used to good purpose in Night Scouting games. Most of us seem to think of fireworks only on November 5th--Guy Fawkes Day--and during the week or two before it ; though there is no sensible reason for thus commemorating one among many historical plots, and I expect very few people could tell you in what year Guy Fawkes tried to do his fiery stuff, or what it was all about. However, the point is that fireworks can be bought at any time of year.

The rocket game is very popular with many Troops. It is the night-time equivalent of the flag raids that you play in daytime. Here is one version of it. You have two Patrols, or sides, and each side defends a base. In each base are set up three rockets, properly planted and ready to touch off. On the signal to start, each side sets off to try to send up the other side's rockets.

You must decide on a method of "killing" each other ; the scarf in the belt at the back is as good as any. Each side may leave not more than half its number to guard its own base. Each player may carry matches.

If a player touches a rocket, he must not be attacked again until he has fired off that rocket; we don't want fellows to lose their eyebrows wrestling on top of a rocket that has its fuse burning. When an attacker has fired a rocket he may retire to five yards from the nearest defender before he may be attacked; he may then resume battle and try to touch off a second rocket. Points are given for rockets fired and scarves captured.

In all games with fireworks it is wise to have some buckets filled with water handy, ready to dash on to any spark that may threaten to set the grass or trees alight, or may fall on anyone's clothes-but don't souse the T.L. when a little spark falls on his hat!

Creeping Up

Here is a variation of the stalking, or "Creeping Up," game described earlier in this book. After the game has been in progress for ten minutes or so, and all the surviving stalkers are fairly close in, the umpire lights a colored flare.

While this is burning, the spotter performs three or four different "actions " such as revolving on his feet with his arms folded, turning round with one hand above his head and the other in his pocket, or hopping in a small circle.

While he is doing these actions, the spotter is not allowed to spot anybody; but when the flare has died out he may make use of any indications he may have observed while it was burning of the whereabouts of any of the stalkers.

The stalkers must try to memorize the spotter's actions in their correct order, and if they survive to the end of the game they score extra points for repeating the actions correctly.

Wily Willie

Jumping crackers, the little ones, can be used to represent rifle ammunition in a jolly pursuit game which I call " Wily Willie." This tough has done a murder in a mining camp and has headed for the wilds.

It is known that he has not much food or ammunition with him, but he will have to fire an occasional shot to kill game for food, and will have to light a fire occasionally on which to cook it.

So off goes Wily Willie (your best Eagle Scout) with three crackers, three very small rockets, and a box of matches. He will use the rockets to signal to his friends for help, of course.

Having given him five minutes start, the Sheriff's Posse, which is the rest of the Patrol or Troop, sets off in pursuit. A good stretch of moor or not too close wood is best for this game. Wily Willie must fire a shot (cracker) or signal (rocket) once every quarter of an hour. It is up to the Posse to trail and surround him; when they have done so, he surrenders. It is open to a really Wily Willie to light a small fire and then hop it as fast as he can in another direction, by way of deceiving the Posse.

Guy Fawkes was a Yorkshireman, so perhaps our brother Scouts in that county will try this Night Scouting game :

Guy Fawkes Raid

In the middle of your field, or in a clearing in your wood, build a " Guy " in the usual way, or put up something to represent one. Mark out a line about ten or fifteen yards radius round him. No one may enter the space thus enclosed, except an attacker, as I will soon explain.

One Patrol defends Guy Fawkes, the others attack, each player wearing his scarf in his belt at the back, by way of a " life." Each attacker is armed with a jumping cracker, and his object is to get near enough to light his cracker and throw it within the marked-out Circle. Crawling and stalking methods should be used as much as possible. If the game does develop into a free-for-all, take care not to throw lighted crackers into each other's faces.

Attackers may be " killed " by the removal of the scarf from the belt, whereupon they must surrender their ammunition. An umpire will keep tally of the number of shots fired at Guy, i.e., the number of crackers that fall within the circle. Finally, if any attacker can succeed in entering the circle unseen, he is entitled to obtain a large cracker or cannon from the umpire and blow up Guy with it, thus ending the game in a blaze of glory, and scoring ten points for his side.

Rocket Treasure Hunt

Here is a new rocket game which you may like to try :

Before dark a Scouter will go out alone into unknown country, wherever he pleases, and set up three rockets in a line two hundred yards apart.

When it is dark, Scouts pair off and stand by. The aforesaid Scouter, with a helper if available, sallies forth to the line of rockets, which should be at least half a mile from the camp. He then fires off the two outside rockets simultaneously if he has a helper, or as quickly as he can one after the other if alone.

The Scouts then set out to find the middle rocket and fire it off, the first pair to reach and fire it winning the "treasure" deposited at its foot, preferably some chocolate or apples.

Another rocket game:

Robbers' Rocket Trail

Two escaping bush-rangers, armed with three rockets, set off from the township, fleeing from their pursuers and seeking aid from the rest of their gang.

They go in any direction they please, but after five minutes they must fire their first rocket signal. They may then change direction whichever way they like, or hide if they like. After five or ten minutes they must fire off their second rocket. After a further period of ten minutes they must fire the third.

The pursuers start from camp in pairs or Patrols, as they choose, as soon as the first rocket goes up.

Their object is to intercept the bush-rangers before they can fire the third rocket. The second will give them a chance to correct their direction if they have been unlucky in their first forecast of the way the villains will turn after firing their first signal.

This is a game where previous knowledge of the country will be of great advantage, and intelligent reasoning will be needed.

Lighting Up

The difficulty about the Guy Fawkes game, and some of the others, is to light your firework without the match being seen or heard by an " enemy " and your shot frustrated. lf you are in good cover, you may be able to strike a match unseen; or you may have had the forethought to borrow father's cigarette lighter, which may be easier to use unseen and unheard than a box of matches.

Another method is to carry a boot lace in a small tin, with a hole in the lid, tied securely on to your belt. When you have crept up almost into the danger zone light the end of the boot lace (after having removed the metal tag, of course) with a match, and shut the tin. The boot lace will smolder inside the tin (perhaps !) and you can light the fuse of a small cracker with it quite easily by gently blowing it into a glow, when you are in cover and within range of your objective for throwing your bomb."

Defenders will have a bit of fun sniffing the night breeze and trying to detect from which direction the horrid smell of burning boot lace is coming! If theyare surrounded by smoldering bootlaces they will be in a real jam !

Now for some games with lights

Wrecking the Lighthouse

One Patrol defends a lighted lantern or hurricane lamp set on a hill top, or hung in a tree. This represents a lighthouse, and the rest of the Troop are professional shipwreckers, whose game it is to put out the lighthouse light, by reaching it and blowing, not kicking it, over in a wild scrimmage! A scarf in the back of the belt will serve once again as a " life," the loss of which puts a player out of the game. Each patrol in turn may be defenders, or lighthousemen, for a spell of ten or fifteen minutes.

If you have a big field with cover in it, here is a game for a dark night

Smugglers and Police

Two patrols or sides occupy opposite ends of the field. Each has a lamp at its end of the field, the light turned towards the opposite end. Mark off a ring of ten yards radius round the lamp; inside this stands an umpire.

Three boys of one side are given cards lettered A, B and C. Three boys of the other side are given cards lettered X, Y and Z. The object of the game is for these fellows to reach the umpire at the opposite end of the field, get the card signed by him, and return to their own base. The remainder of each side defends its own base, trying to prevent the boys with the cards from the opposite end from reaching the umpire. Defenders may not enter the umpire's circle, but may gather outside it to prevent an attacker from returning to his own base.

Scarves in belts at the back are " lives " by which attackers may be out of action, but only for a time. On losing his scarf, an attacker must give up his card to the defender who has caught him, and he then receives back his scarf. This he will carry in his hand while he goes back to his own base, where the umpire will give him another card bearing the same letter as was on the one he has lost. He will they put his scarf in his belt again and set off on another attempt.

Likewise an attacker who succeeds in getting his card signed by the umpire at the opposite end, and returning with it to his own end, may be given another card bearing the same letter and go off to have another go. Or an attacker, successful or not, may change places with a defender of his own side, at the discretion of the leader of the side ; this is so that everyone may have a chance of trying to get through with a card. Defenders cannot be " killed."

Points can be decided on for cards signed and brought back, cards signed but captured on the return journey, and unsigned cards captured on the outward journey.

Night Outposts

This is one of the Chief's games

Two or more boys, each having a lamp, post themselves at least a quarter of a mile from the camp and a hundred yards or so apart ; these are Outposts. They may show or conceal their lights, but must not move their positions.

Ten minutes later one Scout called the Runner, with a lamp, goes off to find the Outposts. Runner carries a lamp which he must not put out, nor may he conceal the light.

Two minutes later the rest of the Troop set out to catch the Outposts and the Runner. Outposts show their lights to guide Runner, but try to hide them from the pursuing Scouts. When Runner finds an Outpost he goes on to find the next, while the found Outpost puts out his light and sets out for camp.

When Runner has found all Outposts he does the same. No pursuing Scout may remain within a hundred yards of camp.

Chapter IX: Night Signaling

Night Scouting






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Last modified: October 15, 2016.