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The Final Countdown

This terrain game "The Final Countdown" is a game which has been superbly developed by a ministrant group from Austria which was given to us with kind permission on 21.April 2002. There are further good events and game on their web site. Anyone who is looking for something different and has a half day or full day for an outdoor game is in the right place.

Daytime terrain game - The Final Countdown

  • Length: Morning + afternoon

  • Contents: A bomb is hidden in the quarter. With the help of the "Special Forces" (=armed forces =members of staff) it must be located and defused.

  • Comments: This terrain game came about after I (finally!) finished my national service and is therefore has some ironic undertones. The most important thing: It is not only lots of fun for the kids but also for the staff who love playing "soldier" (and can shout at each other and command each other around...).

  • The title was attained by the game through the task involved (a bomb with a time detonator must be defused) and the well-known song "The Final Countdown" by Europe, is playing all morning as a musical accompaniment.

  • Course of events:
    1. The start sequence
    2. Bomb search
    3. Interval sequence
    4. Lunch
    5. Interval sequence
    6. In the enemy’s body
    7. Finishing sequence

1. The start sequence:

After breakfast the camp leader asks the children to assemble in the recreation room in 30 minutes dressed in outdoor clothing. In this time all of the members of staff can get dressed up (except the camp leader and those who are taking over a special station) as the "Special Forces" (army soldiers, Clothing: army trousers, rank badge, identification badge, funk radio ...).

As soon as the kids are in the recreation room the camp leader tells them about today's program (obviously the wrong one telling them "clean out the rooms, empty the dustbin..."). In the background the cassette player with "The Final Countdown" by Europe starts playing ("we can listen to some music while we do the chores").

As soon as the song chorus is reached a group of Special Forces Agents storm in and evacuate all of the children outside (it should be a big show with the necessary level of hectic (if possible)). - The cassette recorder is taken outside and "The Final Countdown" will now be played the whole morning at full power (obviously you should turn down the volume at the beginning when the instructions are given). The commander of the Special Forces (who will act as the "wise man" throughout the game) explains the situation to the kids (a bomb is hidden somewhere in the quarter) and plays them a recording on a 2nd cassette player with a bomb warning for the Special Forces: the bomb planter explains his motives (in this case an ex-ministrant gone mad who wants revenge on the Hollabrunner Minis because he was thrown out). However he knows that such opportunities for a terrain game and gives each team an envelope with a start clue about where the bomb could be found.

Additionally, every group, (Special Forces workers) are given a safety ID on which the “entry permission alpha” or similar is written.

2. Bomb search:

The groups of children are sent from station to station through the use of clues until they reach the last station and get the last clue. When the final clues of all of the groups are put together the location of the bomb can be worked out on the plan of the area. While the children are on the hunt for the clues the free members of staff build up a Special Forces Support Point in hectic as military-like as possible (in view of the children) around the house; they run around carrying boxes from A to B and from B to A, they shout out commands, drive around in circles in a car, put up posters, do exercises and push-ups,...-

The members of staff can really let their hair down and have fun - the mood will really go up in this terrain game and the children's mood will too. However the members of staff do have a "serious" task to perform: Because they are always near to the posts they should notice if traffic jams start to occur (several groups arrive at a station together: this can particularly happen on the obstacle course).

In such situations you should simply grab one of the groups and do a short exercise program with them (knee bends, jogging or press-ups ...) until the station is free again. Be careful: The members of staff can scream commands at each other as much as they want but you should be careful with the children: This can quickly lead to misunderstandings so that the children cannot tell the difference between play and reality. -> Therefore: use your initiative in the way to treat the children.

Start clue

Each group begins on a different station - therefore the groups all have different clues to the different stations at the start:

  • Start clue for group 1:
    Go to location A (note: where station 1 is to be found): You will find a mobile phone there. If you call my favourite Special Force colour you will receive a phone call.

  • Start clue for group 2:
    Go to location b (note: where is station 2 is to be found): You will find a cassette with further instructions there.

  • Start clue for group 3:
    Go to my ex youth worker, ... (note: at location c where station 3 is to be found): he has further information for you.

  • Start clue for group 4:
    Go to location d (note: where station 4 is to be found) to the chemical laboratory and let them analyse the note.

  • Start clue for group 5:
    Go to location e (note: where station 5 is to be found): Buy an edition of a newspaper from a salesman d.
    Hand over newspaper xy.

  • If you have more than 5 groups you should have more stations. Less than 5 groups should be no problem.

  • Final clue:
    If one of the group reach the station which is the last station for that group then they obviously receive the "normal" clue (the one which usually leads to another station) and the final clue which relates to a plan of the area (which the commander has in his possession). In this clue they will be sent to the commander. With the final clues from all of the groups the location of the bomb can be discovered.

The stations:

They are set up around the house and do not have to be far away from each other. Station chain:

Station 1 -> Station 2 -> Station 3 -> Station 4 -> Station 5 -> Station 1

Plus additional "intermediate" stations: Suspect’s girlfriend, mathematician, obstacle course

Station 1 - Handy (Start station for group 1, final station for group 2):

The clue sends you to this station with a task, call out the suspect's favourite Special Forces colour, favourite food, favourite Special Force film...(a different one for each group) out loud, then you will be called; but where do you find this out?: A Special Forces Agent who just happens to be there gives you the pointer that you should question his ex-girlfriend and sends you to her:

Intermediate station - girlfriend:

is totally bewildered as she hears that her boyfriend is suspected of planting a bomb; keeps talking about the song they used to listen to (e.g. "The Birdy Song"): she only quietens down and gives them the password when the children sing the song.

Back at the mobile phone the children call out this phrase loud (several times if necessary); the Special Forces Agent, who gave them the tip with the girlfriend beforehand, has now disappeared and calls them with a 2nd mobile phone to send them to the 2nd station with the clue; they must find a cassette....

Station 2 - Decoding (start station for group 2, final station for group 3):

A cassette recorder is placed here in full view; unfortunately the children cannot get to it because a Special Forces Agent has now erected a communication station and has secured the area (e.g. with building site tape): only the children with a safety ID with entry permission beta (groups 1,2 and 5) or entry permission gamma (groups 3 and 4, who have increased the entry permission level in the meantime) may enter; but how can the entry permission level be increased? - You will be sent to an obstacle course by a Special Forces Agent:

Obstacle course:

Children who come to this station must conquer a "military" obstacle course (crawling ...); if successful the entry permission level will be increased; as all groups come to the station twice (on stations 2 + 4), you could organise it so that the group must improve the 2nd result over the 1st one (enter the time in the security ID).

With a higher entry permission level the children come back again and request access to the cassette recorder. They note down the message they hear on the tape which seems to be incomprehensible and jumbled up. The mathematicians are then sent to help them.


is very busy with a (mathematical) problem at the moment which he is not making any progress with; --> decoded text: " to my former ministrant workers (boy's brigade workers,...)"

Station 3 - MC-Story start station for group 3, final station for group 4):

The suspect's former ministrant worker (or...) has provided him with a Envelope which he can only hand out once he has checked your ministrant knowledge with a multiple-choice story. With the note from this Envelope you will be sent to station 4 (chemical laboratory) to hand over the note to be analysed.

Station 4 – Chemical laboratory (Start station for group 4, final station for group 5):

The note must be analysed. In order to be able to get entry to the laboratory in the first place the entry permission on the security ID must be checked: entry permission beta for groups 3+4 and entry permission gamma for groups 1,2+5; all further instructions: see paragraph "obstacle course" on station 2

Station 5 - Newspaper (Start station for group 5, final station for group 1):

The children ask the salesman for the necessary newspaper. There is a note in the newspaper which refers to different words in different newspaper articles (page 2, article xy, 1st paragraph, word 3 etc.). When all of the words are put together the next clue is formed, namely, the commander must have envelopes with further clues which send the group to station 1 (this is different and more complicated than usual because the final clue for group 1 no longer has to be done with an extra newspaper (that is not so easy).

3. Intermediate sequence 1

Once all of the groups have arrived at the commander with all of the final clues, they can focus in on the location of the bomb. Together with the other Special Forces Agents he storms into the house(the children stay outside because it is far to dangerous for them) and brings the bomb outside (as spectacularly as possible e.g. abseiling from the top floor...); while the children can....


....relax at lunch. Special Forces Agents keep trying to defuse the bomb.

5. Intermediate sequence 2

After the lunch break a crisis meeting is called by the Special Forces commander; unfortunately the bomb could not be defused because it can only be done with the special code which only the suspect knows. During the meeting 2 Special Forces Agents storm into the room with a barrow and an injured person. The injured person is the suspect who had been secretly watching everything but has been knocked down by a car on the run.

now he is lying in a coma and is no big help; in this desperate situation a scientist is called in to help (in our game we simulated a video conference with a TV and video camera showing a university professor from Helsinki): He tells us about his newest invention with which you can "beam into" a person's body Thank God that there is a test version of the machine "conveniently" installed at this location. A suggestion: Everyone should beam themselves into the criminal's body and look for the "guilty conscience" (which is in this case very small and difficult to find) which might give us the code.

Said and done: The children are sent through some apparatus (in our case it was a darkened hallway lit up by a strobe light) and they land in the criminal's little toe. We sent a medical student with them as a companion: On the long way from the little toe to the criminal's heart (which means on the path into the woods) he explains the different anatomical body parts (we placed signs along the way with the names of body parts in which found ourselves: Heel, knee...(obviously with the Latin name as well!))

6. In the enemy’s body

While the children walk into the woods slowly and leisurely (and keep learning interesting facts about the human body), the rest of the staff have hurried into the woods to prepare the stations for the organs which are obviously laid out like the human body - at the heart station there is a big map of the human body where all of the stations are drawn in (apart from the end station):

Periodical stations: Brain / heart (centre) / intestines / kidneys / lungs /

Normal stations: Tongue / liver / ear / nose / diaphragm

End stations (not drawn on the plan): undiscovered talent / guilty conscience If too few members of staff are available some of the normal stations can be omitted; and only as many "periodic" stations as necessary for the number of groups. Once the heart is reached the medical student (the new "wise man" from now on) explains the task to the children: First of all they are responsible for keeping the criminal's organism alive: In order to achieve this each group is given a periodic station which they must provide with life saving substances every 10 minutes (on the medical student's whistle):

  • The brain must be supplied with oxygen from the heart (a coloured note)
  • The heart must be given a beat played with a stick
  • The intestines must be emptied (I am not sure how we did that)
  • The kidneys must be cleared with water (bring a glass of water from the tongue to the kidneys)
  • The lungs must be provided with blood from the heart (coloured note from the heart)

In addition to these periodical tasks the children must collect information about the location of the guilty conscience. Each organ has some piece of information (or sends them to the next organ...) which is usually handed out after completing the task (see some examples below). At the very end all of the children find the undiscovered talent together which must be awoken. It comes to him in a flash of light and he leads the children to the guilty conscience who is very sorry and gives the kids the code.

Task examples:

  • Brain:

    cannot remember anything at first because it is covered in limestone (staff member is a white sheet) -> must be freed with a glass of vinegar.

  • Ear:

    Cannot concentrate because there is a permanent buzzing in his ear (another member of staff keeps making a buzzing noise) -> the children must make the buzzing member of staff keep quiet

  • Tongue:

    The bad breath really makes him despair -> on this station the kids must clean the staff member's teeth.

  • Liver:

    Is totally hard and doesn’t say anything at all... .... Note: This part of the game was thought up quite spontaneously (during the morning program actually). Due to the fact that I was not always present during the planning I cannot remember all of the details

- However there must be enough ideas.

7. Finishing sequence

Back in the quarter it is time for the big climax - is the code correct and can the bomb be defused? After the last safety measures (everyone takes cover,...) and the combination is entered into a calculator which defuses the bomb.

A 2nd version of the terrain game "The final countdown" based on the original script.

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