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Bow, Stern, Port, Starboard

Do you know the four directions on a boat? That’s right! Bow, stern, port and starboard! This fun game will help you to remember the four directions, and have a lot of fun while doing it!

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  • Who will call out the directions?
  • How will you decide?
  • Who will decide when someone is out?
  • When and where will you play?
  • What do people do when they are “out” and waiting for the game to end?


  • Imagine the floor in your meeting hall is the deck of a ship, or draw lines in the sand on a visit to the beach.
  • Everyone start in the middle, and the person running the game calls out a direction.
  • Everyone has to run to or past the part of the ship that is called, and the last person is out.
  • Play until every person is out except for the winner.
  • You might take time for a few games, so that everyone can have fun and more than one person can be a winner.


  • The bow is the front of a boat
  • The stern is the back
  • The Port is the left side (when you face forward)
  • The Starboard is the right side.
  • Hit the deck: lay down on your stomach (or if players don't want to get dirty, they can crouch down)
  • Attention on deck: salute and yell, "Aye, aye captain!" -- players may not move now until the captain gives the order of, "At ease!" (i.e. even if the captain gives a different order such as "to the ship" the crew must continue to remain at attention until told "at ease")
  • Three men in a boat: the crew must form groups of three and sing "Row, row, row your boat" Anybody who is not in a group of three is out.
  • The love boat: crew members grab a partner and dance. Anybody without a partner is out.
  • Clear the deck: everyone must have their feet up off the floor
  • Scrub the deck: everyone on their knees scrubbing
  • Captain's Quarters: everyone ran towards the captain.
  • Man-over-board: Players must find a partner as quickly as possible.  One partner must lay on their stomach while the other places their foot on their partner's back.  Anyone without a partner or pairs that are too slow are eliminated.
  • A Periscope: Every player falls on their back and sticks one leg in the air.  The last ones are eliminated.
  • SHARK!!!!: Everyone must run to a designated base (multiple bases can be used).  The last player to the base is eliminated.
  • Crow's nest: All players must find a partner.  The lightest player rides on their partner's back.  Those without partners or who assemble the crow's nest too slowly are eliminated.
  • Three maids in a row: Players form groups of three and sit in a vertical row.  The players who are the odd-man-out are eliminated.
  • Sick turtle:Everyone falls onto their backs and waves their hands and feet in the air.
  • Row the Boat: Each player finds a partner, sits face to face, holds hands, and pretends to row a boat.  Players who can't find partners or who are too slow are eliminated.


  • What do you know now that you did not know before?
  • What strategy did you use to keep playing the game?
  • Did it work?
  • Why is it useful to know you the directions on a ship or boat?
  • How can you remember these directions?
  • What else would you like to learn about boats?
  • Remember to submit your activities on our Scouts for Sustainability Take Action Map

Keep it Simple

  • Start with only a few directions to let people learn the game. Slowly add more rules as people get comfortable playing!

Take it Further

  • Add your own rules based on boating safety or rules! Get your creative juices flowing and figure out what other boating safety tips or terms should be included and come up with an action for them!