Kim’s Game is a game of observation and memory. In Rudyard Kipling’s 1901 novel Kim the hero, Kim, plays the game as a part of his training as a spy. Kim spends a month in Simla, India at the home of Mr. Lurgan, who runs a jewel shopas a cover for his real work as a secret agent for the British against the Russians. Lurgan tosses a handful of jewels brings out a copper tray and says:
Look on them as long as thou wilt, stranger. Count and, if need be, handle. One look is enough for me. When thou hast counted and handled and art sure that thou canst remember them all, I cover them with this paper, and thou must tell over the tally to Lurgan Sahib. I will write mine.
Lurgan and Kim play the game many times with a number of different objects, photographs etc.
In his book Scouting Games Robert Baden-Powell describes Kim’s Game
The Scoutmaster should collect on a tray a number of articles – knives, spoons, pencil, pen, stones, book and so on – not more than about fifteen for the first few games, and cover the whole over with a cloth. .. He then makes the others sit round, where they can see the tray, and uncovers it for one minute. Then each of them must make a list on a piece of paper of all the articles he can remember… The one who remembers most wins the game.
There are number of ways to adapt Kim’s Game:
Long Distance Kim’s Game
Instead of a tray or tabletop at close quarters the objects are viewed at some distance (the distance proportional to the size of the objects). This can be extended to a hundred yards and the objects can be displayed against a sheet or other background.
Vertical Kim’s Game
Hang the objects in a tree or from the ceiling.
Kim on the trail
Distribute the objects along a trail or path. Scouts are given a fixed amount of time to cover the trail and find and remember the objects.
Each object is tossed either from one instructor to another or from an instructor to a Scout and then tossed back. Everyone has the opportunity to observe as this is going on and then to write down what they remember.
Passing Kim’s Game
Objects are passed around a circle of players very quickly ( a time limit for getting the articles around is set).
Scouts are blindfolded and objects are handed from Scout to Scout who have a set period of time to observe each by the sense of touch alone.
Kim’s Game for Skill Instruction.
Kim’s game and adaptations can be a powerful tool for instruction. Most Scout instruction involves Scouts familiarizing themselves with a number of objects, concepts or actions. By building on the ‘Kim concept’ of observation and memory instructors can enliven their presentations.
First aid supplies, animal tracks, leaf samples, pictures of plant or animals, knots, ingredients and utensils for cooking, gear to be packed for a camping trip are all examples of objects that can be used in the game. The instructor can lay them all on a table and begin his session by letting the Scouts observe them and try to name them. They can pass them around silently and asking the scouts to try and memorize them, collecting them, hiding them and then using them to illustrate his instruction asking (before bringing the object out) the Scouts to guess which one is next.
Concepts can be written on index cards and then used just as objects are used. If the concepts were the steps for CPR or lighting a fire the Scouts could be challenged to learn all of the steps and then put them into the proper order.
The idea of adapting Kim’s game to Scout instruction is to engage a Scout’s imagination, challenge his skills of observation and memory and to bring an added dimension to what would otherwise be a static, lecture-based session.