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Need help with project ideas
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Scott McCain
(Highlander366) - F - M

Locale: Idaho
Need help with project ideas on 02/09/2011 16:03:36 MST Print View

Was hoping I could get some input from the UL Scouting community to help with some group projects. The group that I will be helping is not a formal scouting group, they will be ages ranging from 6-13 years, with limited backpacking experience. We are planning a short multi-day hike at the end of July, and leading up to that trip we will have monthly meetings to prepare for the trip both with information and projects.

Here is a list of topics that I was considering:

Making a Paracord bracelet
Basic First Aid
Leave No Trace Ethics
Map and Compass skills
Possibly DIY alcohol stove and Heineken pot (depending on age appropriateness)

Any other recommendations and or assistance with the above mentioned ideas? I will have approx. two hour blocks each month leading up to the actual trip.

I guess I should add that I am an experienced UL backpacker who has taken kid groups out on trips before, I just need some assistance with the actual teaching aspect of UL for kids that age.

Thanks in advance,


Aaron Benson
(AaronMB) - F

Locale: Central Valley California
Group projects... on 02/09/2011 16:33:33 MST Print View

This is a great thing you're doing. Kudos.

The paracord bracelet is a good idea; you might consider some kind of laynard (for compass, whistle, &c) as an alternative, for the sake of short attention spans or a lack of dexterity. Basic fire building/making skills would also be useful, and fun, and could be done as an alternative to the alcohol stove. Impromptu/emergency shelter building (ie: lean-to from a ground cloth or cheap "emergency blanket") would also be fun and informative; using the appropriate materials can also help with the Leave No Trace philosophy. First Aid is good stuff and that may be a good time to cover the basics concerning being lost and what-not: staying in one place, using that whistle, &c.
For something a little more advanced: depending on the local flora and fauna, and your available resources, some simple plant/animal identification (done in small groups?) could be done with colored handouts and descriptions (those that are easily recognizable, of course).

IMO, considering your audience, keep the projects/lessons simple, fun, and short (with your experience with kids, you surely know this already). Scaffolding the "lessons" is good if you're meeting with the same group over several sessions.

Edited by AaronMB on 02/09/2011 16:38:37 MST.

Matthew Zion
(mzion) - F

Locale: Boulder, CO
Re: on 02/09/2011 16:49:34 MST Print View

Thats a tough age group. Cat herding expression comes to mind. Have to agree with Aaron, short and sweet. The meetings I planned either appealed enough to them that they could focus their attention for an hour, or we had to break up the meeting with a game of some sort. 6-13 I think a game or something to get them outside and venting their pent up energy is probably key.

Knots are a classic scout program, but I think if you incorporate them with other themes the kids might actually learn the knots, rather than feeling them as a school like chore. Emergency shelter or how to set up a tarp. Fire building, like Aaron pointed out, is always an attention winner. I like the MYOG idea, perhaps in the coming years you could expand to tarps, packs, etc. for the older boys.

Are you guys a new troop? 6-13 isn't a typical age group spread.

edit: I see you guys aren't an official scouting group.

Edited by mzion on 02/09/2011 16:52:10 MST.

Michael Ray
(topshot) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Re: Need help with project ideas on 02/12/2011 08:54:52 MST Print View

That is an even tougher age range than the normal 11-18 in a Troop. I'll repeat what everyone else has said though you apparently have some experience with these ages already, keep the lessons in short blocks and engaging. They must be as hands-on as possible. It helps if you can relate it to things they are familiar with or why it might be useful to them outside of BPing. I don't think there's any secret to teaching UL vs any other subject to that age level. I would enlist the help of a couple good elementary school teachers in your area to give you pointers rather than us. :)

Have fun!

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Need help with project ideas on 02/12/2011 09:12:28 MST Print View

Don't know how big your group is, but consider the first meeting with only the 10-13 year olds. Teach them some basic skills. Then get them engaged in 'teaching' the younger kids in subsequent meetings. Helps keep everyone engaged.

Tad Englund
(bestbuilder) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Need help with project ideas on 02/12/2011 11:57:59 MST Print View

Scott, I think you might want to take a serious look at the scout model and think about the reasons why they have a break between Cubs and Webelos and then a big jump/break between Webelos and Scouts. The difference between all these age groups is HUGE. We could have a 10 page thread about the reason "why" on this subject.
Now if you are just going on a fun outing and would like to learn some basic skills before going, no problem, go for it and do the above skills (except the stoves). I would make a parent of each of the boys under 11 go on the trip or the boy does not go, no exceptions (been there, it doesn't work).

I would totally stay away from the Alky stoves until they get to age 14. I have done this with scouts of all ages and for some reason they just don't figure it out until 14. They don't get the danger nor can they figure out the stoves. I've had a twelve year old burning the sand nest to his sleeping bag trying to lite his stove, totally innocent, but could have been a disaster (not an isolated case). I've made the stove with the boys and again the younger ones can't hold their attention long enough to get the job done. Stay with canister stoves, at about 10 they can start to figure them out.

You won't get much done if you only have a monthly meeting either. The boys are good for about 1 hour (that includes activities) then all heck breaks loose.

All the rest on the list they should enjoy doing.

BTW, I seems like you are trying to recreate the wheel, why not just put the boys in the appropriate scout organizations? I can see if there are some philosophical differences , but even then you can borrow their material and follow what has been refined over 100 years. I myself have trouble with some of the Scouting things like uniforms, the pageantry and some of the adults (too hard core), but I enjoy the outdoor program and getting the boys outdoors on at least a monthly basis. YMMV

I have been involved in outdoor youth groups for over forty years, as a boy and an adult, I guess you could say I've been around the block.

Edited by bestbuilder on 02/12/2011 12:00:51 MST.

Dicentra OPW
(dicentra) - F

Locale: PNW
FOOD?! on 02/16/2011 14:38:36 MST Print View

Menu planning and/or meal making. Make your own gorp for the younger kids, cooking over a campfire or stove for the older kids.

Send me an email if you want some specific ideas. :)

Laurie Ann March
(Laurie_Ann) - F

Locale: Ontario, Canada
kids... food... project ideas on 02/20/2011 06:24:49 MST Print View

Scott... when I was a pre-teen I took a 4-H Outdoor Living course. I had wanted to be in Girl Guides but there wasn't anything available in our rural community. Anyway, the reason I am telling you this, is the learning from that course is still with me.

We made all sorts of things and learned all the basics of camping. What we also learned was how to dry foods. As you can see from my profile this has stuck with me into adulthood and now it's part of my day job. While it is something you could do, it is a time consuming effort.

What about making your own energy bars as a group. I have a recipe that is perfect for this. I'm unsure how many children you have in your group but they could be grouped into smaller units and make these bars. The nice thing is that the bars can be customized just like GORP and it makes it really fun to pick out the ingredients and make them. It is a no-bake recipe and works great.

I also have an instant Moosey Mousse Mix recipe that the kids could package up for their trip. It's a fun project and practical because it is part of their menu. I have a bunch of materials that I've written (both for my book and classes) that you are welcome to when it comes to food.

I also have a pattern for a UL Checker game that can be made with a bandanna and some things like that which may be of use to you.

Speaking of bandannas, we did a little game in the 4-H thing about uses for them in the backcountry. Part of the game was serious but some of it was quite silly.

Another thing you can do is teach them about animal tracks. We did this for the younger kids in a workshop I was teaching and we made tracks out of construction paper and put them on the floor... then the kids played a little game to learn what they are. The older kids helped set it up. We kept the tracks appropriate to what they might see in the area.

We usually got the kids in the workshops to build a mini-personal first aid kit for their pack and talked about how to handle more serious emergencies.

There are so many things you can do. I'd only recommend building the stove with the oldest of the kids because it is quite easy for the younger ones to cut themselves and the younger they are - the shorter their attention span.

Feel free to email me through the PM system here and I can pass along some of my materials to you.