Brush Passes and Dead Drops

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This is a good ‘starter adventure’ – it has basic skills involved and is also a good set up for other spy based adventures that may be using brush passes and dead drops. By the way, a ‘brush pass’ is when you walk by someone and discretely hand off a message as you pass. ‘Dead drops’ are when a message is left where no one is around. The person the message is intended for comes to that location at a later time to retrieve the message that was stashed.

Synopsis: It’s WWII and espionage training was a necessary craft to teach for all nations involved. Safely passing information from informants to their contacts was a constant struggle with deadly consequences if they ever got it wrong. Your children will have the opportunity to try their hand at passing information along according to practices without modern technology. At the end they’ll have the opportunity to test our their skills in a real world scenario as a grand finale.

Back Story: This one is simple. They’ve been recently recruited by the newly created OSS (the precursor to the US CIA – feel free to use your own country’s intelligence agency.) Training begins today. Passing information discreetly is a sensitive task and is NOT as easy at looks. There can be ZERO mistakes as even a single mistake can cause someone their lifeā€¦perhaps even their own.

Setting It Up: This one is flexible on location and time duration. There is an added mission at the end of this adventure activity that is optional, though highly advisable because it will allow your kids to use the skills they just acquired.

  1. Begin by choosing a very public and bustling location, a local mall being perfect. It’s preferable that your kids are unfamiliar with the mall for the sake of being outside their comfort zones, but it isn’t crucial. If there is a wide range of ages in your children, it’s often best with this activity to have the oldest ones go first to model for the younger.
  2. There are two different ways to facilitate this activity. Ideally, you’ll be able to find a single volunteer to help out (another parent or neighbor). If not, Option #2 will also work.

DEAD DROP PRACTICE OPTION #1: Have one person in the mall who will pass the information. They are NOT to have any contact with the kids while they are in the mall. Explain to your kids that they will be attempting a dead drop first. Explain what a dead drop is (see above) and that an agent will be leaving a piece of information as training in a specific location. This volunteer will text you where that location is specifically so that you can relate that to your children. They will each take turns going to that location to retrieve the information DISCREETLY. Some example mall locations might be in a planter, inside a book in one of the stores or on one of the shelves in a store. Your child must go and not let anyone see that they are really picking up sensitive information. Award points for their performance. Afterwards, they will then REVERSE the process by placing the information in a place of their choosing (discreetly) and then you’ll text your agent volunteer to pick up the information while your kids watch FROM AFAR so as not to alert enemy agents.

DEAD DROP PRACTICE OPTION #2: In the event that you don’t have a volunteer, the exact same activity can be played out with the children playing the same part for each other. In this way, the activity will take up less time as they’ll be doing both skills at the same time (then swapping.)

BRUSH PASS PRACTICE OPTION #1: A brush pass is when the exchange is made from person to person. Have them practice on each other a few times first. Then, when they are ready, signal your volunteer to give a brush pass to the oldest in the group, working his/her way down in age. Once the information is passed to a child, the child must wait 30 seconds (enough time for the volunteer to walk ahead a bit) and then pass the information BACK TO the volunteer. Make sure that even during this portion that the volunteer is NOT interacting with the children – it will keep the feeling that it’s ‘real.’

BRUSH PASS PRACTICE OPTION #2: Similar to the dead drop practice option #2, have the children complete the passes with each other. Make sure that they are many feet away from each other to start – even sending them to neighboring stores (if you are inside a mall.) Award individual XP amounts for each child’s performance.

  1. FINALE MISSION: Although this portion isn’t crucial, it’s a lot of fun and will allow them to use the skills they were practicing. Ahead of time have a message encoded (a number of ways to do this including simple letter/number substitutions and even double substitutions) and a separate sheet of paper for the decoder. Make enough copies of each, enough for each child to have one message and one decoder. Have the volunteer place the decoders at a DIFFERENT dead drop location for the children to retrieve. Then, coordinate one final brush pass from the volunteer to each child. To facilitate this, it would be best to choose a store like Sears (one that is very large.) Send the children in and the volunteer will then look for each child to complete each brush pass. Once the brush passes are complete, have the children decode their messages.