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Baloo's Bugle


August 2004 Cub Scout Roundtable Issue

Volume 11, Issue 1
September 2004 Theme

Theme: Time in a Capsule
Webelos: Citizen and Communicator
  Tiger Cub:
Program & Activities







Baltimore Area Council

Learning to effectively communicate is fun and entertaining through the Communicator activity badge. Webelos will experience varying methods of transmitting information, which will serve them well later in life.

What Is a Code?

A code is a way of writing a whole word as a secret word. Many codes are really ciphers. A cipher is a code in which every letter of a word is written in a secret way. The Morse code is a cipher kind of code.

Codes are used all over the world. A telegram or cable is a kind of code that is written in a short way to keep costs down.

Codes are an important way of sending secrets during wartime. Brands marked on cattle and markings on planes and ships are also kinds of codes. Codes usually have two parts. The first part is for making the code. This is known as encoding the message. You need to know how to make your message a secret one.

The second part is called decoding the message. This will tell the person who gets the code how to read and understand the code. Then the person will know exactly what the message means. The more you know about codes, the more fun they are. Many people like secret codes, and so will your Webelos Scouts.  Some of the easiest codes use numbers for letters.

Number Codes

Draw lines on paper or use lined paper. Print the letter of the alphabet on the paper. Then start with the number one and write the numbers in order below the letters.

Communicator Game

This is a game that can be played in any Den setting, and is instructive for both the boys playing the game and for the rest of the Den watching.

Cut identical sets of geometric shapes (triangles, square, rectangles, octagons. etc.) out of different colors of construction paper. Give one set to each pair of boys, and sit them so they are facing away from each other at two tables, or on the floor.

The first boy is told to arrange his shapes in whatever fashion he chooses. When he has done so, he must tell the second boy how to arrange his set of shapes in the same arrangement. The second boy cannot ask questions, or otherwise communicate with the first boy. Observe the results with no communication.

The next time, the roles are reversed, with the second boy arranging his shapes any way he wishes. The difference now is that the first boy may ask questions, and the second boy may answer them.

A discussion can ensue about the value of questions and answers in effective communication.

The Shopping List

This appears to be a boring grocery list. But to your friend, it's an important message. The number before each word tells which letter to use. The first letter in mop is "M", so that is the only letter that needs to be saved. Continue down the list. The third letter in bread is "E", and so on. Now the grocery list has a new meaning.

1.       Mop

2.       Peaches

3.       Bread

4.       Butter

5.       Cream cheese

6.       Dozen eggs

7.       Fruit bars

8.       Bag of potato chips

9.       Watermelon

10.    Package of noodles

11.    One can of green beans

Your message: Meet me at one.

Back Drawing

Before the meeting, the Den leader draws symbols on poster board. Spilt the Den into two teams. Have them sit in a straight line facing forward. Give the Scout at the front of the line a piece of paper and pencil.

Rules: Everyone closes his eyes, except the Scout at the back end of the line. Only this Scout may see the image that the Den leader has drawn. Then this Scout draws the image he is shown on the back of the Scout in front of him. He may erase once, and then redraw the image. After the image is drawn on the Scout's back, he opens his eyes, then draws his image on the Scout's back in front of him. The image will finally reach the first Scout, and he will draw the image that he feels being drawn on his back on the paper. After both teams are finished, show everyone the original image and see whose drawing is most accurate.

Purpose: This game is used to show Scouts that you need all your senses to be an effective communicator and that a breakdown in communication can change the story.

Den Activities

       Demonstrate and teach the Webelos Scouts the Boy Scout Motto using sign language.

       Have a deaf. blind or mute person visit the Den and describe special problems they have communicating.

       Instruct Scouts how to address a group.

       H lave four Scouts take part, each reading in full, one point of the Scout Law.

       Visit an amateur radio operator. and have him explain the use and rules of amateur band radio. Let the Scouts examine equipment and talk with someone over the amateur radio.

       Instruct Scouts in the use of secret codes. Then let several Scouts invent and use their own code.

       Get a copy of CB ten codes and have the Scouts use them.

       If you cannot visit a radio or television newsroom, invite a newsperson to your meeting to talk to the Scouts about their jobs.

       Invite a high school or middle school speech teacher to your meeting, and have them talk about communications.

Circle Ten Council

Communication is one of the most important skills that the Webelos Scout will use during his life. He will communicate every day with other human beings, and possibly with animals. We often consider communication as the expression of our thoughts or feelings through speech, gesture, print, and electronic devices. Communication, however, really is comprised of both the transmission of the message, and decoding by the receiver. In other words, communication does not exist unless the message is both sent and received. When the intended recipient of the communication understands the message, then the communication is effective. Learning to communicate effectively will help us all now and in the future.

Names and Communication

One way we communicate is to mark something in a certain way to show ownership or a relationship. Your last name indicates that you are part of a family and related to others with the same name.  Even names are codes of a sort. The blacksmith sometimes became known as SMITH and his son would be SMITHSON. Take a phone book and see if you can guess how a name may have come about.


Have the boys write what each sign means


Where does the information go when you delete things on your computer?

Computer hard disk drives have an arm that moves back and forth over a spinning disk. At the end is an electromagnet that is turned on and off. That can flip the molecules of the disk a magnetic material. It arranges the molecules. The arrangement can be read later by scanning the disk with the same arm. Each bunch of molecules is called a BIT. Groups of them are called BYTES. This drawing is an 8-bit byte. As the molecules flip over, they represent a 1 or a 0. The north magnetic pole is 1, the south is 0. Digital storage always involves just 2 values; 1s and 0s, or on and off. Our drawing is the number 10010110. If we use a special number system called binary numbers, these 8 bits store the number as 140. 

Stuff stored in digital code makes up files or documents. They are stored in little zones or sectors on a hard disk. Most of the time files are too big to fit in just one continuous line of sectors, so the files get spilt up. The first part of a file is called the header. In the header are things like the name and date of the file and also the size of the file, and a really important piece of information which sectors the file is stored in. That information tells the arm where to scan for the data. Without the header the data is left in chunks all over the disk. When you delete a file what youre really doing is just erasing the header. The files data is still there. It just doesnt have an address anymore. Eventually it will be written over by new data

Information on a computer is not stored as matter or energy; its stored by arranging matter. The computer uses energy to make the arrangement, to read the arrangement or to delete the arrangement. That energy is converted into heat, which is why there are fans in computers.


Arrange boys in a large circle. Give each one a communications transmitter of some kind, such as a flashlight for Morse code, the string and can telephone a boy's hands for sign language or a tom-tom for drumbeat.

Give the first boy a message to transmit, written on a piece of paper. Each boy in turn tries to relay this message to the next boy in line using his signaling device. (Remember your boys are just simulating this, not really doing it.)

The last boy writes down the message and comes up to stand beside you. You read your message, which is "Mr. Watson, come here I need you". The boy is then asked to read his message, which is "The number you have reached is out of service or you have not used the correct area code. Please hang up and try again. If you think you have reached this recording by mistake." About halfway through this speech. Put you arm on the scouts back and begin guiding him off stage, shaking your head

Message Coding

Use the Morse code table found in the Webelos Scout Book, Communicator section to encode a short message. Each boy should keep his message short, one sentence of 5 - 8 words, and not let other boys see it. Then let them trade messages and try to decipher them.


Newspaper office

Radio Station

TV Station

Telephone Office

Commuter Center

Word of caution:

Most of these communication centers are very security conscious, so do not be surprised or disappointed if they tell you they do not allow groups to tour.


         Trace the history of communication in a chronological order, starting with the early communication, method of sign language.


Demonstrate the spoken word by having boys hold their hands over their larynx to feel the vibration, and make an old fashion can and string telephone. Be sure to keep the string taut and not touching anything. 

Use thick twine 10 - 20 feet. Make a hole through the middle of each can with a medium size nail. Wash can thoroughly. Pull the string through each nail hole. Tie a large knot in string on each end. To use simply hold can by its side, keeping string taut. Put to mouth to talk, to ear to listen.

         A telegraph key will demonstrate Morse code. Use the key to open and close a circuit made up of a tone buzzer and a battery. You can make the key or "bug" out of a spring clothespin if you wish.

         Invite a member of the Rotary Club or the Toastmasters International to visit your den and give examples of body language.

         Visit a meeting of these organizations to observe how communications is given

         Ask a member of the local amateur radio organization to visit your den or allow the den to visit his or her base station to see how communications is arrived using the International Morse Code.

         Listen to a CB radio or find an active Citizen Band Radio Club in your area to tell your den how the radio can help.

         Visit the local library or your school library to find out how the books are indexed to locate them easier.

         Local radio stations or television stations can show your den how they receive communications from around the world through the use of micro transmitters or satellite stations.

         Communications can be carried out in many forms. Try to locate the local organization that teaches the deaf to sign and see if they might be willing to teach the den a few basic words or phrases.

         Find out if one of the parents would be willing to show each of the boys how it a computer works and allow them to access the computer base.

         To find out the many job opportunities in the communication field, check with the local Chamber of Commerce to locate companies that use communication as a basis for employment in your area.


Out of sight of the immediate area, attach a line zigzagging between trees or stationary objects. Tie objects to the line along the way. Ten items is a good number. Blindfold each Webelos Scout and lead him to the rope. Boys then proceed down the rope, holding on and remembering the objects they come across. No talking is allowed. When each boy reaches the end of the rope, the leader takes him out of sight of the course and removes his blindfold. Boys may work individually or as group to see how many objects they can identify and remember.

Communication Codes

Some of these pictures may need to be copied down and enlarged to be usable.  CD

Music Codes


This is one of the oldest methods of communicating messages. Spartan generals exchanged information using twin cylinders and strips of parchment. The sender would wind the parchment around his cylinder, or scytale, and write the message in several horizontal lines. Then he would unwound the ribbon, the letters of the message appeared out of sequence. Only the person with the matching cylinder was able to rewind the parchment and restore the original sequence of letters.



       2 dowels, each 3/4" - 1" in diameter, 10 - 12" long

       2 thumbtacks


Ribbon or paper strips, 1/4" - 1/2" wide. 2 feet long 

       Felt tip pen


Gently hammer a tack part way into one of the cylinders about 1/4" down from the top. Do the same to the second cylinder.

Write your secret code name on one cylinder. Give the other cylinder to your partner.

To send a message, remove the tack from the scytale. Stick the tack through the end of the ribbon and re-insert it. Wrap the ribbon around the scytale in close spirals. Hold or tape the bottom end in place. Write your message in horizontal lines. Take the ribbon off and send it to your partner.

To decipher the message, do the same thing you did to write the message.


A Good pack meeting demonstration!

This game is identifying sounds. The den chief or den leader produces sounds from behind a screen or in another room, and the Webelos listen. Boys try to identify each sound.

Sample sounds met be -- ping pong ball bouncing on floor, sanding a piece of wood, shuffling a deck of cards, breaking a twig or stick in half; pushing buttons on telephone, sawing wood, etc.

Webelos Scouts could work in the Communicating and Computer Academic belt loops and Pins in conjunction with this activity badge.


Actually, Circle Tens Book said Whats my Line but the game show described here is the one I named.  CD

Let 2 or 3 boys tell a story about a similar situation, with facts a bit different in each version. One is telling a true story, the others are not. The rest of the den takes turns asking the panel questions to determine who is telling the real story. After telling their initial tales, all boys on the panel must answer all questions truthfully, even if the answers contradict their original story, so that the rest of the den can determine the truth teller.


Give boys a general topic and have each one of them draw a picture about anything to do with that topic (such as "Space Aliens") String a clothesline up between two trees. Have first boy come up, hang picture and begin to tell a story about his picture. After one minute, stop him, have the next boy come and continue story with his illustration. Continue until all boys have shared and a brand new story has been communicated to the den!



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