During the trying time of the COVID-19 lockdown, we decided to do “Home-Scouting” activities in our scout group. The concept was to publish a task each day, that the scouts could do at home or on a small trip with their parents.
In this list is a collection of tasks that you can do at home or in the forest when you can’t go to scout meetings.
The first task is to create a Forest-friend. A Forest-Friend is a small troll like figure, that you create from materials found in the forest.
There are many ways to create a Forest-Friend. You can carve it in wood with a knife or cut it with a saw and paint it. You can also build it in clay or dirt. Or you could fold a toilet roll and decorate it with grass and rocks and so on. For simplicity you could simply draw him on the ground, using a stick. There are plenty of options, and I encourage you to find your own way of doing it.
2. Tie a Neckerchief
Scouts around the world wear neckerchiefs, as a part of the uniform. It is important to be able to tie it correctly, which is the second task on the list.
You can tie the neckerchief with a range of different knots. Among the most common are the reef (Or square) knot and the friendship knot. Try to learn both. You can find guides on the internet on how to do them. Also try to find and learn other options as well.
There are lots of beautiful and interesting spiders and a few of them live in people’s homes. The task here is to go and find them. Go hunting throughout you home to find different kinds of spiders and try to find out what species they are. For extra credit read up on what they eat, how they nest and build webs and where they prefer to live.
Remember they often hide in corners and behind couches.
4. Folding Cups
A well-known scout activity is to fold cups from paper. This task is to fold a collection of paper cups. Start with a regular cup and then try making different sizes. What is the smallest cup you can fold? What is the largest? Can you fold a cup from a newspaper?
Try a lot of different sizes and different versions if you can.
For extra credits try folding other things as well. You can fold paper planes, boxes, swans, hats, boats or even flowers.
It is important to communicate. Especially when you cannot meet physically. Write a letter about scouting or another hobby you do. Write about your best experiences with your hobby and tell what would be the greatest thing that could happen doing you hobby.
You can also write about how you keep doing your hobby when it is closed because of Corona or even just holidays.
Remember to decorate your letter with lots of colors.
6. Cleaning up
This task is to clean up. Not around you house, but out in nature. Grab a carrier bag or similar and a pair of plastic gloves. Now take a good long walk in the forest, local park, beach or somewhere else and collect all the trash you can find.
The more you collect the better. Try to take note of what kind of trash you find most of out there. What could be the reason for finding this type of trash? What is the weirdest trash you can find on your trip?
An important skill to have as a scout is to tie various knots. For this task, find a length of rope and practice all the knots you know.
At the very least you should be able to tie the following: reef knot (Also known as the square knot), sheet bend, timber hitch, clove hitch, friendship knot.
After mastering those, you can try learning the figure 8 knot and a bowline. There are many, many more to learn, so don’t hold back. See how many you can learn.
Hiking is another important activity for scouts. We hike a lot and it is an activity that requires nearly no preparation, depending on how far you want to go.
The task here is simply to go for a 5+ kilometer hike. Extra credits for going 10+ kilometers.
9. Building a Den
A fun activity is to build a den. You can go out in the woods and build a den from what materials you can find there. If you don’t want to go to the woods you can go to your garden and build it using the garden furniture and tools you have available. If you prefer to stay in you can use a couch, tables, pillows, blankets and whatever else you like. Extra credit if you build a den you can camp in overnight.
10. Baking Cake
A great activity with a high reward is baking. Everyone loves the smell of fresh baking. You can choose to bake a cake, bread, buns or something completely different.
It is up to you to decide whether to bake a large pistachio cake or smaller vanilla muffins. Or maybe chocolate buns with frosting? Anything goes.
11. Painting Rocks
This is actually an activity I have used for a project on this site before. The idea is quite simply to find a bunch of rocks and paint on them. You can use actual paint, or just color pencils, or whatever you like.
You can come up with all sorts of interesting motives, some with actual images, others just abstract color splashing.
Now it’s time to go on a treasure hunt. In tins task you are going to be playing the treasure hunt game Geocaching. It is a large international treasure hunt, where people around the world hide small boxes or containers for others to find. The caches are hidden everywhere both in cities and in the woods.
To play you sign up on Geocaching.com where you can then find the coordinates for the caches near you. Then you go out with a GPS or GPS-enabled phone and find the cache. In the cache is a small notebook or log where you can put your name and the date, to prove you found it.
Sometime there is also ‘swag’ in the containers that you can trade. Swag can be small toys or figures and the idea is you take a small item and leave an item about the same value, like a souvenir.
Time for a night activity now. Go out after dark and look at stars and the moon. There are plenty of constellations to look at. How many do you know? How many of them can you find?
Look for patterns in the stars and look for other interesting phenomena on the night sky. Maybe even take a walk in the woods to see what interesting nightlife you might find there. Remember to enjoy the dark and the quiet when you are out there. Notice how calming it is, to simply be in the dark.
Another important skill as a scout is to build and start a fire. We use campfires for everything from cooking our meals to just have a nice cozy time, with singing and marshmallows.
Go and find some firewood and kindle, cut a bunch of small woodchips and build your fire, from the ground up. Can you start a fire with just one match? Or even better without matches? Try using a fire steel or a magnifying glass and the sun. You can also try and find other interesting or challenging ways of starting your fire.
When you get the fire going feel free to cook something over it.
As scouts we like to communicate with various types of codes, like Morse code or numeric ciphers. The challenge here is to solve the codes below and write a few codes yourself. Try different types, and maybe find some that aren’t used here.
20 15 – 20 18 1 14 19 12 1 20 5 – 15 18 – 14 15 20 – 20 15 – 20 18 1 14 19 12 1 20 5
Now it is time to take another walk in the forest. This time to look at different flowers and see how many you can find. Take a good long walk and find lots of different plants and flowers and find out their names. Also see if you can find any rare plants, plants that are used in food or medicine, or even poison plants.
A task a bit like the previous, only this time, look up, rather than down. The task is to go out and find different birds. There are so many different birds in the wild, so try and find as many as possible. Look up what kinds of birds they are if you don’t already know. Also find out where they live and what they eat.
18. Fairy Chimes
Out in nature there are thousands of little fairies. Sometimes you can hear them play on little bells or chimes. Fairy Chimes can be crafted in many ways. One of them is to take a stick or small branch and decorate it with different colors of yarn, string and cloth. You can also use feathers or pearls or whatever else you like. When it is decorated you hang something from it that the fairies can play, like little bells or something else that can make a bell or chime like noise. In the example below, I used bottle caps.
Hang the chime outside and wait for the fairies to come and play on it. Remember that fairies are invisible, so you will not see them, but only hear them play.
One more very loved scouting activity is to bake (And eat) pancakes. This task is simply doing exactly that. It is of course much preferred that you bake them over an open fire, like a campfire, but if that is not an option for you, you can use a stove.
You can also choose to use a camping cooker or storm stove if you prefer that.
The more you bake the better.
20. Nature Bingo
This task is to play a round of Bingo, but instead of numbers, we use stuff from nature. You can print the Bingo Board from the image below and use an egg carton to collect the items.
You can also find something else to collect the items, and you can customize the item list if you want.
The rules are simple: Take a walk in the woods and find the items on your Bingo Board.
My suggestion for the Bingo Board is as follows: Blade of grass, Bud on a branch, White flower, Mushroom, Moss, Flint rock, Fresh leave, Withered leave, Snail, Pinecone, Nettle.
21. Packing, Planning and Sleeping outside
This task has three small steps. The first part is to prepare a night outside. Find out what you will need for sleeping outside. Find all the things and pack them in a small bag.
The second part is finding a place where you can stay overnight, outside. You can find a shelter, use a tent, go to the woods or the neighbors garden.
The last part will be completed at night. You probably guessed it. You have to execute your plan. Go out and sleep where you planned. You can bring friends or family if you want, the only requirement is that you plan the small camping trip and that you sleep outside.
22. Shadow Drawing
Drawing shadows is a fun activity to pass the time. Find a bunch of different objects, place them in a ray of sun and draw the silhouette of their shadows.
You can use any object you want, like toys, tools, flowers, or food items.
Try different angles for the objects and see the shapes change. You can also try drawing the shadow of an object and leaving it at the same spot for a few hours and see how the shadow changes.
Another fun activity is making your own whistle. You can make your whistles from many different types of wood. The easiest type to make is a poacher whistle. It is a type of whistle used to call deer.
To make it you first find a stick, about 10 cm long and 2 cm thick. Split the stick down the middle. Cut a small divot in the middle of one of the halves, on the ‘inside’ of the stick. Find a wide blade of grass and put it between the two half sticks. Tie the sticks together with a piece of string or rubber band on each end.
Now when you blow through the small divot it should make an interesting noise, a bit like the sound of a young deer.
If it doesn’t work right away, try adjusting the blade of grass and try again.
24. Nature Photos
The second to last task is to take photos of nature. There is so much beautiful nature out there, so grab a camera and go capture it.
You can try and fine motives in flowers, trees, animals, lakes, meadows, or anything else nature related.
The idea is to find the best motives and light settings and take some artistic photos of our beautiful nature.
25. Message in a Bottle
The last task is to send a message in a bottle. It is always nice to receive mail which is why we want to send some out now. But to save on stamps, we will be sending a letter, as a message in a bottle. Grab a piece of paper and a pen and write a letter or draw a drawing for a random person.
You can choose to write about scouting or a bit about yourself or simply draw a pretty picture.
When you are done you roll up the message and put it in a bottle to be sent off. To send it, you simply find a good spot to put it. Normally message-bottles are thrown in the ocean, but to avoid polluting the water we will just leave the bottle somewhere to be found. A few examples of places where you can leave the bottle could be on the sidewalk outside your house, on a bench in the local park, or somewhere else.
Be sure to put the bottle somewhere where people will notice it, and not confuse it for trash.