Kim's Game

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Kim's Game is a game or exercise played by Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and Girl Guides, and other children's groups.[1] The game develops a person's capacity to observe and remember details. The name is derived from Rudyard Kipling's 1901 novel Kim, in which the hero, Kim, plays the game during his training as a spy.[2]

In Kim[edit]

In Kim, the game is called both the Play of the Jewels and the Jewel Game.[2] Kim, a teenager being trained in secret as a spy, spends a month in Simla, British India at the home of Mr. Lurgan, who ostensibly runs a jewel shop but in truth is engaged in espionage for the British against the Russians. Lurgan brings out a copper tray and tosses a handful of jewels onto it; his boy servant explains to Kim:[2]

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.

They contest the game many times, sometimes with jewels, sometimes with odd objects, and sometimes with photographs of people. It is considered a vital part of training in observation; Lurgan says:[2]

[Do] it many times over till it is done perfectly - for it is worth doing.

In general[edit]

This game is commonly played with young children, either preschool or in the first year or two of schooling (age 5 and 6) as it promotes the development of memory and observation skills and can be used for learning new groups of objects, such as shapes or fruits.[3]

In Scouting[edit]

In his book Scouting Games Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of Scouting, names the exercise Kim's Game and describes it as follows:[1]

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.

Military use[edit]

The use of Kim's games in training military personnel is probably widespread but not well documented. The United States Marine Corps' Scout Sniper Instructor School in Quantico, Virginia, is one establishment that teaches the game as part of its curriculum. Another is Sniper training schools at Camp Lejeune, Camp Pendleton and in Hawaii.[4] It is mentioned in a military glossary with the backronym "Keep In Memory".[5]


  1. ^ a b Scouting Games by Sir Robert S. S. Baden-Powell, 1921. Chapter IV. Online version at US Scouting Service accessed July, 2008.
  2. ^ a b c d Kim by Rudyard Kipling, 1901. Chapter 9. Gutenberg text
  3. ^ "Kim's Game". Study Skills. Learning and Teaching Scotland. 7 December 2007. Retrieved 2009-06-28. [dead link]
  4. ^ Trigger Men, By Hans Halberstadt Page 176
  5. ^ Military glossary accessed August, 2008.