Show a picture of a Treasure Chest being locked by a Pirate. Inside, treasure should be seen.

Explain that some treasure is going to be locked inside and that only one key will then be able to open the chest. Show some copies of keys drawn on paper (all with seven different sized teeth). Give each person a copy of the key and tell them that they will have to design a key that will open the chest.

The treasure:

Could be one of the following:

1. Future generations of young people with an understanding of, and sympathy for, the work of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.

2. Human contentment.

The key:

In these two cases it would be:

1. In our dissemination work, the seven main things young people need to be educated about.

2. The seven main things that a human being needs to be content.

The clues:

Some clues can be written on stickers and placed around the room. These are possible answers. Participants can look at them, or not, as they wish.

The exercise:

1. Alone, each person comes up with the seven most important things that would unlock the treasure. They must put them in order of priority (largest tooth = top priority).

2. Small groups should be formed (at least three, preferably not more than seven). Each group is given one different coloured copy of the key. They are told to somehow, someway, reach a group consensus of the seven in order of priority.

3. The keys can then be put on the wall or the’seven priorities written on a grid on a large sheet of paper. Each group should be asked:

  • Was it easy or difficult to reach consensus?
  • Did everybody get to express their views?
  • Why did your first choice have top priority?

4. Either the large group should then be encouraged to discuss and come to a large group decision or a general discussion should take place on the issues that arose.


The discussion will largely depend in the nature of the treasure and the key that you originally chose. Some points may well apply in every situation:

  • Is it necessary to have a large group key? Or, are the individual and/or small groups ones enough? Will any key work?!
  • Is it useful, or not, to prioritize in this way?
  • Are there cultural differences of perspectives involved?
  • How did people feel during the various stages of the task?

Can anything be learnt from this exercise about difference and communication as well as the official content?
Under no circumstances should the person running the exercise tell the group at the end that they have the one and only correct key to the treasure. This would rather ruin the point of the whole exercise.


Depending on the topic and the structure you choose and the group and the level of discussion this exercise can take a short time (45 minutes minimum) or it can provide the material for a 1/2 day session.

An example of the treasure, key and possible clues that could be used follows:

The Treasure

A world without violence and war.

The Key

The seven main things that individuals can do to achieve this.

The Clues

  • Learn to accept differences;
  • Gain wider knowledge of people and the world;
  • Show tolerance and respect;
  • Develop empathy and understanding for the views and actions of others; Read widely;
  • Challenge prejudice and discrimination – even in friends and family;
  • Write to, and lobby, politicians and other leaders;
  • Actively encourage more equal distribution of the world’s resources; Consume less, so that others may consume more;
  • Learn to deal with our own anger and fear in a constructive way;
  • Talk about problems rather than hiding from them;
  • Live non-violently and non-aggressively – be a good example;
  • Pretend it is the problem of everyone else but you;
  • Use your own knowledge and skills to convince others in your own life;
  • Support – by membership, fumce or promoting them – organizations working towards conflict prevention and peace;
  • Complain, campaign, march and demonstrate if necessary;
  • Boycott companies and governments which actively encourage violence and war;
  • Support the death penalty for violent criminals and the assassination of religious and political leaders who encourage violence;
  • Protect yourself and those you care about – and ignore the chaos and suffering elsewhere;
  • Feel it as all hopeless and rum to sex or drugs or materialism or career or…

These clues should be placed on slips of paper all around the room. People should be told that, like all clues, some may be helpful and others not. Nobody has to look at them, they can choose whether to look at them, before doing their own key, or after, or not at all.

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