Communicator - Codes

Webelos enjoy being able to communicate in code - it's like knowing a happy secret. Codes are used all over the world. When you send a telegram or a cable, you are sending a kind of code written in a short way. During wartime, codes are an important way for sending secret messages. Even the brands on cattle and markings on a plane are a kind of code.

Codes usually have two parts. The first part is making the code, called "encoding." The second part is called "decoding," which tells the person who receives the encoded message how to read and understand it.


Rail Fence Code
Suppose you want to send the message "Louis likes bean soup." In the Rail Fence Code, you encode by dropping down every other letter:

L	U	S	I	E	B	A	S	U	    O	    I	    L	    K	    S	    E	    N	    O	    P

Then, take the bottom line of letters and put them next to the top line of letters. You'll come up with a coded message: LUSIEBASUOILKSENOP which you send. When your friend wants to decode the message, he just counts the number of letters, divides it by two, and places the last half below and between the first half.

Box Code
A simple code which substitutes numbers for letters is made by building a grid of 25 boxes into which the letters of the alphabet are inserted. Make a 5x5 grid as pictured and label the columns 1 - 5 and the rows 1 - 5. Insert a letter into each box. One box will contain two letters, but the other letters in the message will help the decoder determine which letter to select. Using this system, the row number followed by the column number indicates the letter needed for the message. For example, "O" is 34. The fun part is that you can use any extra words, pictures, and letters to hide your code inside.

  1 2 3 4 5
1 A B C D E
2 F G H I/J K
3 L M N O P
4 Q R S T U
5 V W X Y Z

The following looks like a grocery list but is really the code for "Send Help."

Dear Grocer:
Please accept my order for the following and deliver at once.
43 cans of sardines @.15
33 boxes of cereal @.14
23 packages of napkins @.15
31 cans of peaches @.35

Data supplied by Pack 114


Materials found on InsaneScouter'.org is © 1998 - 2025, but may be reproduced and used for anything consistent with the Scouting and Guiding programs. Unless otherwise noted on the page. If you believe we are republishing your copyrighted material without permission, please Contact Us including the url to have it removed or your copyright information added. All opinions expressed on these pages are those of the original authors. All holdings are subject to this Disclaimer.

Please be advised that InsaneScouter is NOT affiliated with any Scouting or Guiding Organization including Boy Scouts of America.

Scouting resources for Den Leaders, Cubmasters, Scoutmasters, Girl Guides, Girl Scout, Cub Scout, Venturing, Exploring, Beavers, Joey, Boy Scout Leaders