“A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.”
First, why do we take our youth outdoors? One is to find peace and reverence. When you are out in the woods or up in the mountains, you are away from all the worldly noise. Without the daily distractions of technology, shopping, or TV, Cub Scouts can listen and focus. Which brings us to the second reason why Scouting is based outdoors, so they can observe what God has created. They can appreciate nature and the importance of it. When Scouts see what God created for them and feel the love God has shown, they themselves may want to show God their love by keeping their world clean and beautiful.
Sometimes it may be difficult for young Scouts to understand just how much they impact the environment and why it is so important to be ethical when it comes to the outdoors. A short demonstration that you could do is the yarn observation. You can do this indoors or outdoors, find a place on the ground (or gather some nature items such as rocks, dirt, leaves, etc.), place a few pieces of trash in this area (you may even find some already on the ground). Next, bring a piece of yarn long enough to make a circle about one to two feet in diameter. Place the string on the area you have chosen with the pieces of garbage within the circle. Now, ask your Cub Scouts to observe the area within the circle and write down their findings. Once the boys are finished, ask them what they wrote down. Ask them how they feel about what they saw and why they feel that way.
Teaching them their impact on the environment is crucial to the importance of Scouting outdoors. Applying the Leave No Trace Principles (for kids) could be effective not only during your time outside but for years to come. Teach your Cub Scouts the principles by these fun hand gestures:
- Know Before You Go (Point to your head)
- Choose the Right Path (Walk in place)
- Trash Your Trash (Make a scooping motion with your hands)
- Leave What You Find (Take a “selfie”)
- Be Careful with Fire (Make a fire motion with your fingers)
- Respect Wildlife (Put both hands up on head like moose antlers and tilt one hand down as if the antler is broken)
- Be Kind to Other Visitors (Bow)
Even though you have discussed the importance of Leaving no trace, the Scouts are still at an age when they are full of energy and excitement when they get outside. Here are a few games to play while on the trail to help keep their hands and minds busy:
- Color Swatch Game: 1) Go to your local home department store and pick up a few of the free color swatches in the paint section. 2) Cut out the individual color squares. 3) Give each boy about 3–6 different colored squares. 4) When they are outside, have them find their colors out in nature such as a brown square would match the brown dirt or a purple square would match a purple flower.
- Stone Game: While out walking the boys could find small rocks to step on. Have them help each other only step on the stones and not the dirt.
- Cub Zone: Keeping a group of Scouts together while out in the forest could be like herding cats. So, create the “Cub Zone.” One leader in the front and one leader in the back. The Cubs are free to walk slow or fast or zig-zag as long as they stay within the two leader a.k.a the Cub Zone.
- Trash Collecting: Give each boy a bag and have them collect trash along the way. Maybe have an award for the person who collected the most trash or if they each collect at least ten pieces of garbage, they get the reward.
There are so many ways that you can make outdoor ethics fun and inviting. You can search on the internet or even just make it up. Keeping them busy can make it easier!
Teaching Cub Scouts outdoor ethics may be challenging and because it is part of rank requirements within the Cub Scouts, you kinda need to do it. You can remind them that a Scout is reverent, even in the outdoors. Have them realize that because of God’s love, he created the world for them so they need to take care of it. Keep them busy and make Leave No Trace fun. Remember, when they do their part now, it will have a huge impact later.