Anyone who was ever involved with Scouting is probably aware of the term “Kim’s Game”. To create a Kim’s game; a few random items would be placed on a table and covered with a blanket. To play the game participants would stand before a table and the blanket would be lifted for 1 minute allowing the players to see all of the items on the table. The blanket would then be placed back over the items, and then the players would write down all the items on the table that they could remember. The winner would be the person that could remember the most items correctly.
I had a Scoutmaster when I was a kid that was a Kim’s Game aficionado. I was never particularly good at the game, and never really found it to be all that fun. Some years later during some military training, ironically I ran across the Kim’s game again. I found that I was just a bit better than the average Joe at the game and I fully attributed that to my Scoutmaster and his twisted passion for the game. Apparently the concept of the game was a seed that was planted deep within my psyche because it sticks with me even now all these years later. Now days every time I head into the outdoors I have the Kim’s game on my mind, albeit subconsciously.
Here’s a great exercise to try that puts the concept of the Kim’s game to use. On your next trip into the outdoors take a moment when you return home to jot down everything that caught your eye on the trip, I tend to break things down into categories – Birds, Mammals, Trees, and so on. After doing this a few times you will start to notice that you will have a heightened sense of awareness for your surroundings. Quite simply if you have the Kim’s game on your mind when you walk into the forest you will pay closer attention to the things around you. Over time you will notice that you have started to appreciate small things that most people walk past unnoticed. You will find yourself digging through field guides looking for the name of a tree or an insect. You’ll find yourself listening to bird songs online. When you run across something that is unfamiliar you will look at the small details knowing that you will need them to identify it later as you’re thumbing through a field guide. Most importantly you will continue to develop your mind and stimulate your senses no matter what your age.