Hurray! Warm weather is the perfect time for outdoor adventures! This month take your troop on a walk through the neighborhood, park or on a hike through local trails. Teach them to enjoy the outdoor world, to take nothing but pictures and leave nothing but footprints.
This May everyone will be learning about the “Leave No Trace” frontcountry guidelines and the ways we can all minimize our impact on the environment. (Frontcountry is composed of outdoor areas that are easily accessible by vehicle and the most visited.)
Décor Ideas for Leave No Footsteps Behind:
- Bring out all your potted plants and flowers to decorate around the room.
- Latex balloons are actually biodegradable and fairly earth-friendly. So you can have your balloon bouquet and still be green!
- Nuts, fruit, veggies, and real fruit juice are healthy and natural.
- Tasty natural foods can also double as a cool centerpiece! Thread fresh fruit onto wooden skewers, and then stab skewers into artificial plant foam to look like flowers!
- For a quick and easy treat grab some suckers in the shape of a foot from PartyLand!
Activities that Won’t Leave a Trace:
Our Natural World — Quick Activity
Take your Scouts on a Nature Scavenger Hunt, but rather than collecting objects, have them list ideas on paper.
The hunt will help them discover how much they have in common with the natural world and how the natural world influences their survival. This activity sets the stage for learning and embracing Leave No Trace principles.
Give each participant a piece of paper and a pencil. Have them make three columns with the titles, Things in Nature, Things We Have in Common, How It Helps Me. They must find objects in nature and tell how they are like that object. Make sure they consider less noticeable things such as air, soil, sun. For example:
Things in Nature, Things We Have in Common, How It Helps Me
* Tree: We both have an outer layer to protect us (bark/skin). A tree gives me oxygen.
* Soil: We both contain minerals. Soil helps grow my food.
* Ant: We both need shelter. They are fun to watch.
*PartyLand sells small, themed pencils and notepads by the dozen. Pick some up for your troop and go exploring!
Plan Ahead & Prepare — Quick Activity
Note: Tell your pack you are going to take an imaginary hiking trip and ask each person to pack a small backpack for your meeting. Don’t tell the participants their imaginary destination or what to bring. Before your meeting, find pictures or posters depicting a local or regional environment (high alpine, desert, river). You will use these pictures to serve as your imaginary destination. Break participants into small groups of three to five when they arrive. Build suspense by asking them to guess the destination of their imaginary trip.
Show the destination pictures and describe the location you have selected (weather, terrain, etc.). Explain the goal of the trip: wildlife viewing or fishing. Ask the Scouts to unpack their packs and discuss their answers to the following questions (the leader must read the back ground information in order to facilitate discussion).
Note: Because participants packed their packs without proper information, it is unlikely they will be adequately prepared for their destination. This activity demonstrates the importance of planning before packing.
* Do the contents of your pack properly prepare you for this trip?
* Do the contents of your pack ensure your safety?
* Do the contents of your pack ensure you will Leave No Trace that you will not damage natural or cultural resources?
* Do the contents of your pack ensure your trip will meet your goal for example, wildlife viewing or fish safely and enjoyably?
Facilitate a discussion with all participants about the results of the activity. Ask groups to briefly share their answers to the above questions and add:
* How would the contents of your pack differ with different destinations?
* What other information do you need to pack properly for a trip?
* What is the value of knowing these pieces of information before packing?
Pack It In & Pack It Out — Quick Activity
Note: Arrangements for this activity must be made a week or two in advance. Find a location that is littered with garbage. For example, a roadside, a park, or a high school parking lot right after school. This activity can also be conducted during organized cleanup projects sponsored by groups that have “adopted” road segments or recreation sites. If you can not find a littered area near you, simulate one at or near your meeting site.
Travel to the site. Have the Scouts observe the littered site and discuss what they think of this situation and how it makes them feel. Present each member of the group with a garbage bag and with the challenge to make the area look more pleasant.
Instruct the group to use care when picking up sharp, rusty, or unsanitary waste. You may wish to have participants bring light gloves for this activity.
Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces — Quick Activity
Gather the Scouts outside a home or in a park. Ask them why we construct sidewalks. Focus the resulting discussion on the need to provide durable surfaces for travel by many people. Explain that concentrating activity on one durable surface can protect the surviving land. Define the concept of durability for the group.
Take Nothing But Pictures — Quick Activity
Take a hike or a walk with cameras. Have the Scouts take pictures of flowers, trees, wildlife. Print off the pictures and display them at your next meeting then let the photographers take their pictures home.
Do your Good Turn and leave these areas cleaner then you found them.
Water Balloon Fight!
Latex Water Balloons are composed of natural rubber sap and small amounts of non-toxic coagulants and pigments. They are 100% bio-degradable! When exposed to outdoor elements they are completely consumed by soil or water micro-organisms at a rate quicker than that experienced by an oak leaf under identical conditions. In much the same way maple syrup is harvested from the maple tree, the production of latex balloons contributes positively to the preservation of tropical rain forests.
Let your Scouts cool off and have fun with water balloons! Then teach the importance of picking up each and every little piece of balloon shrapnel. Give a prize to the Scout who picks up the most!
Need prizes for all these fun activities? PartyLand has hundreds of insect and animal favors. Even magnifying glasses and compasses!
Things to Work on:
Earn the Cub Scout Leave No Trace Awareness Award.
The end of the month has all dens moving up the Cub Scout trail. You might want to consider working on the Wildlife Conservation belt loop and pin this month.
Another Type of Footprint
Tips for Reducing Your Footprint at Home
- Recycle your water bottles and, better yet, choose to re-use a refillable water bottle made of a refill-safe material.
- “Phantom” loads occur in most appliances that use electricity, such as VCRs, televisions, stereos, computers, and kitchen appliances. In the average home, 75% of the electricity used to power home electronics is consumed while the products are turned off. This can be avoided by unplugging the appliance or using a power strip and using the switch on the power strip to cut all power to the appliance.
- How many phone books do you need? Stop getting those bulky throwbacks by contacting the manufacturer (their contact information is usually listed on the phone book’s inside cover) and asking to be taken off their mailing list.Use online phonebooks or search the web to find what you need instead.
- Eating meat costs a lot of energy – a 6 oz steak requires 24 times as much fossil fuel based energy to produce as an equivalent amount of vegetables and rice. Eating vegetarian just once a week can make a big difference.
LEAVE NO TRACE® Guidelines:
Leave No Trace is a plan that helps people to be more concerned about their environment and to help them protect it for future generations. Leave No Trace applies in a backyard or local park (frontcountry) as much as it does in the wilderness (backcountry).
Six Leave No Trace Guidelines for Cub Scouts
1. Plan Ahead
Watch for hazards and follow all the rules of the park or outdoor facility. Remember proper clothing, sunscreen, hats, first aid kits, and plenty of drinking water. Use the
buddy system. Make sure you carry your family’s name, phone number, and address.
2. Stick to Trails
Stay on marked trails whenever possible. Short-cutting trails causes the soil to wear away or to be packed, which eventually kills trees and other vegetation. Trampled wildflowers and vegetation take years to recover. Stick to trails!
3. Manage your pet
Managing your pet will keep people, dogs, livestock, and wildlife from feeling threatened. Make sure your pet is on a leash or controlled at all times. Do not let your pet approach or chase wildlife. When animals are chased or disturbed, they change eating patterns and use more energy that may result in poor health or death.
Take care of your pet’s waste. Take a small shovel or scoop and a pick-up bag to pick up your pet’s waste— wherever it’s left. Place the waste bags in a trash can for disposal.
4. Leave what you find
When visiting any outdoor area, try to leave it the same as you find it. The less impact we each make, the longer we will enjoy what we have. Even picking flowers denies others the opportunity to see them and reduces seeds, which means fewer plants next year.
Use established restrooms. Graffiti and vandalism have no place anywhere, and they spoil the experience for others. Leave your mark by doing an approved conservation project.
5. Respect other visitors
Expect to meet other visitors. Be courteous and make room for others. Control your speed when biking or running. Pass with care and let others know before you pass. Avoid disturbing others by making noise or playing loud music.
Respect “No Trespassing” signs. If property boundaries are unclear, do not enter the area.
6. Trash Your Trash
Make sure all trash is put in a bag or trash receptacle. Trash is unsightly and ruins everyone’s outdoor experience. Your trash can kill wildlife. Even materials, such as orange peels, apple cores and food scraps, take years to break down and may attract unwanted pests that could become a problem.
Pack Leaders, don’t forget to pick up a Smokey the Bear hat for yourself from PartyLand! 🙂
Find More Easy Ways to Get Active, Get Inspired and Get Connected here!
Helpful videos on how to dispose of food waste, how to choose a campsite and more!
It’s finally summer! Enjoy the outdoors, but remember – leave nothing behind but footprints.