If you’re currently running virtual sessions with your DofE groups, check out our suggestions for interactive challenges. Online platforms can be great for setting challenges and getting young people to interact together to achieve a common goal – or to just have fun!
We’ve assembled these activities that work well with young people, using platforms such as Zoom, MS Teams, Google Classroom etc. Most involve the host sharing their screen and running the activity, although others can be run as a group. Many of these activities can be run in a face-to-face classroom setting too.
Be sure to check out our safeguarding advice for when you run online sessions like these.
1. Spot the difference
Give participants the chance to study everyone’s background. Then, without warning them why (to prevent anyone screenshotting), get them to turn their cameras off. When cameras are all off, get them to change one thing in their background by adding or taking away something. Then turn all cameras on, and take it in turns to identify what has changed in each participant’s background.
2. Escape rooms
Search the internet for online escape rooms. Many are free and usually take between 20-40 minutes to complete. Players work together or alone to solve puzzles to lead to the next room/location – usually, the answer is the password to unlock the next stage.
Here’s a simple, fun game that is perfect for online systems:
– Everyone except for the Leader is muted.
– One participant is chosen to start. They must say a simple sentence really slowly. Either their own sentence, or one which the Leader sends them via the meeting chat facility.
– Everyone else types what they think the sentence is into the group chat.
– After a few minutes, move onto another participant who says another sentence of their choosing, letting the others chat their version of what is being said.
– Once everyone has had a turn, unmute yourselves and reveal your sentences. Alternatively, reveal the sentences after each person.
4 Kahoot quizzes
Kahoot is an online system used by schools and universities etc. to test their students’ knowledge. You can create your own DofE-related one or maybe find one that suits you, such as this map reading one. (Click ‘play’ then ‘practice’ to test it, then choose ‘teach’ to run it as a group session.) Create a free Kahoot account and then discover your ideal quiz here or find some specific DofE training ones here.
Without warning the participants, the Leader introduces one of them as being a world-leading expert on a particular topic (that they probably know nothing about). The interviewer then asks the interviewee ‘expert’ a series of probing technical questions about their area of supposed expertise. The expert must do their best to answer as intelligently as possible. For example, Professor Sophia Smith could be the world’s great expert on making models from baked beans. She’ll be asked to describe her techniques.
6. The never ending story
Give each member of the group a number. Player One starts to tell a story about the group starting with just one word. Player Two must immediately add a word so it makes sense and naturally follow the first. Player Three adds their word to the story chain… and so on, back to Player One who continues the tale. The game stops when a natural ‘full stop’ ends it. The idea is not to be the player who ends the story.
There are lots of cooking activities you can try as a group online. Participants would need advance notice of the ingredients needed but you can issue the recipe bit-by-bit during the session. Popular quick meals include:
– Microwave mug cakes
– One pan meals
8. Scavenger hunt
Each participant thinks of something for the others to find in one minute. They must have the item themselves. Player One says their item and the others have to run off and find the item. First back wins a point. Repeat with another player setting the item to find.
9. Instant Play on a Plate
Here’s a short light-hearted play, full of quick-fire jokes that young people should enjoy performing. Instructions are on the script, which could be shared with participants in advance and roles allocated. No preparation is really required, and it could be a great way to involve shy members of your group. Great for an end of term group party – online or in person.
10. Dragons Den
Participants spend 45 minutes or so together in a breakout room coming up with a new product. Perhaps give them a theme, such as an item of expedition kit, a DofE board game, a new expedition food concept etc. They then have three minutes to present their pitch to everyone else – perhaps creating logos etc. Use a polling system to let everyone vote for their favourites. The Leaders have the casting vote.
11. Treasure hunt
Here’s a tricky treasure hunt you could either set as a personal online challenge, or play together as a group, with participants trying to find the answers to each clue (answers must be in CAPITALS). Created by Deborah Fullick, it’s aimed at 14-18 year olds. First answer is STANSTED.
12. Balloon debate
Participants are given advance notice on their character. At the start of the activity, the scene is set – they are all in a hot air balloon which is about to crash. All but one of the characters must leave the balloon and save the life of just one of them. All these characters (fewer than ten is sufficient for one session) then have three minutes each to justify their place as the sole survivor. Characters could include: DofE Leader, religious leader, ten year-old child, builder, cook, beautician, doctor…
13. Tube map route
Share a copy of the London underground tube map on your screen. Name any two stations and challenge participants to get from one to the other with the least number of stations in between. Can they all get the same route/number, or has one found the true shortest route? Could be good for expedition planning practice.
14. What three words
You can devise some great quizzes using the What3words system, which helps people navigate to an incredibly precise location. Can your participants come up with a quiz for famous UK landmarks to test each other’s speed?
15. Online yoga session
Find a local yoga teacher who may be willing to run an online session for free for your group. It may be the start of a new Physical section activity for some. Alternatively, use YouTube instructional videos.
16. Recreate a picture
Find some iconic photographs from the 20th/21st centuries, or famous paintings. Make a montage or compilation of these to show your group and challenge them to recreate the pictures themselves by the next meeting, where they can all be shared.
17. Guess who?
That classic board game can be run as an online session. Check out how our friends at The Scout Association suggest you run this online.
18. Spaghetti and marshmallow towers
Participants will need to have a bag or two of marshmallows each and a pack of spaghetti. During the meeting, challenge them to build as tall a tower as they can, using just those two elements. Get them to have their cameras pointing at the building zones so all can watch each others’ progress.
Play a simple online game that would be hosted by the Leader, who could then hand over control to participants. Two rival spymasters know the secret identities of 25 agents. Their teammates know the agents only by their code names. The teams compete to see who can make contact with all of their agents first. Spymasters give one-word clues that can point to words on the board. Their teammates try to guess words of the right colour while avoiding those that belong to the opposing team. And everyone wants to avoid the assassin. Rules are here. A tutorial video is here.
20. Split decision
Split Decision is a fast, easy and fun game where participants gain interesting insights on their fellow players and attempt to predict the overall group perspective on challenging questions. Go here for the full instructions.
Bonus activity: Taskmaster
The popular Dave/Channel 4 television show Taskmaster is all about setting simple challenges. Over the summer, the Taskmaster team created a range of fun tasks that you could use to challenge your participants. This may be better as a challenge set one week for presentation at a following meeting. See the tasks.