Need a fun father-son pack activity this month that’s Halloween-themed? How about a pumpkin carving contest? You get some good quality time together, it’s creative, and it’s some friendly father-son competition.
Since you’re carving to win, you’re going to want to know how to carve the perfect pumpkin.
In his article “How to Carve the Perfect Pumpkin”, published in Boy’s Life magazine, software designer turned Farmer Mike for the fall, Michael Goldman, gives a step by step carving tutorial.
Taking Farmer Mike’s Carving Advice
Even though I’m terrible at carving pumpkins, (I always end up cutting out the stuff, like teeth and eyes, that are supposed to stay), Farmer Mike says anyone can learn.
“Carving great pumpkins is a craft, not an art,” says Farmer Mike. “A craft means you know how to use the tools.”
He says the first thing to do is to pick your perfect pumpkin out. Following his advice, I picked a big round pumpkin so that I could carve a plump-looking face on it. He says pick a pumpkin with a shape that will best emphasize the character you want to carve, a pumpkin with boils on it might make for a good witch carving.
Carving your Pumpkin
My favorite piece of advice that Farmer Mike gives was an “aha!” moment for me. He says to use a water-based temporary marker to practice drawing your designs so you can easily erase them. Why didn’t I think of that? Every time you can still see the pen marks where I messed up my design on my finished pumpkin. If you don’t have a temporary marker, but you do have girls around, nail polish remover works great and is what I used. It was so nice being able to erase my scribbles and stray lines this time.
If you’re planning on lighting your pumpkin with a candle, cut a hole at the top, instructs Farmer Mike, and make sure not to throw away the top, like I almost did. If you’re not wanting to light your pumpkin, you can carve a hole in the back, where no one will see it, in order to still get all the pumpkin guts and seeds out.
For tips on how to use Farmer Mike’s “chip method” to get those shallow cuts without poking a hole all the way through the pumpkin, watch his video (because seeing it is easier than reading how).
A Pumpkin Carving Song to Sing with your Pack
To sing along with your Scouts while carving, one mom came up with a pumpkin carving song on her blog, Scouter Mom. She says, “If you have a den meeting or pack meeting near Halloween, then this song is a fun way to get everyone singing. And it is not just for Cub Scouts! This would be fun at any class party or Halloween party. It is not gory, so it is fine for very young children.”
And when it’s done I’ll light it up
And put on my table.
Will see and get the quivers
For Halloween’s the time to scare
And give the shakes and shivers!
My Finished Pumpkin
Even though I followed Farmer Mike’s advice, I’m still not skilled or crafty enough to do a complicated design—maybe next year! But my pumpkin still came out much better than previous ones.
Scout-themed Templates and Ideas
For Scout-themed design ideas and templates to carve with your pack go to 5 Cool “Scout-O-Lanterns” for Halloween from the Scouting website or use one of these templates from Farmer Mike’s blog.