Sometimes when we are out hiking with Scouts it seems like they are so focused on getting from here to there that they forget to look around and see the sights. If you are out with a goal oriented group and you want them to take some time to explore, consider adding one or more additional hiking activities. You’ll find some suggestions for hiking activities below.
Themed hikes usually involve looking for items which fit a theme or doing something similar. Some ideas for these hiking activities:
- Sound Hike: Hear and identify all sounds heard along the way.
- Homes Hike: Look for nature’s homes, like nests, holes, spider webs, etc. (Don’t disturb them! Don’t put your hand in a place you can‟t see, either.)
- Blindfold Hike: Divide boys in pairs. Have one blindfolded. The other leads him a short distance, quietly and slowly. Encourage the blindfolded boy to listen, smell and feel the surroundings. Trade places.
- Shadow Walk: Walk only in the shadows. This may require some jumping. (Don‟t plan this walk at noon since that is when shadows are shortest!)
- Detective Hike: Spot and list all evidence of man in nature (litter, footprints, fire scars, chopped trees, etc.). What litter you may find, pick up and dispose of properly.
On a scavenger hunt hike you search for items in a list. You can make your own list or use one of the ones below:
- Nature Scavenger Hunt from List PlanIt
- Woodland Scavenger Hunt from B Nute
- Nature’s Bingo from Camping With Gus combines a scavenger hunt with a bingo game
Geocaching involves using GPS coordinates to find caches – small containers which hold a log and sometimes trinkets. These types of hiking activities add a little adventure to your hike. Scouts BSA can work on their Geocaching Merit Badge if they find caches while out hiking. You can learn more about geocaching at Geocaching.com.
Games for the Trail
There are many other types of games you can play as part of your hiking activities. Here are some of my favorites:
- Chain Story: One person starts a story, but stops in the middle of a sentence or idea. The next person must continue the story then break to let the next person continue, and so forth.
- I Spy: One person thinks of something that everyone can see and gives a clue such as “I spy something round and hard.” The others try to guess what it is. The winner then gets to choose the next “I Spy.”
- Mystery Bag: You’ll need a stuff sack or lunch bag and items found along the trail. Collect items (acorns, pine cones, small stones, trash, etc. — no fair picking any living plants). When you stop for a rest, have your kids put their hands in the bag and try to identify the items they touch. Scatter the materials back in the woods when you’re finished.
- Hug a Tree: You’ll have to know your trees for this one! One hiker is the treemaster. While hiking along the trail, the treemaster calls out the name of a tree in the area —for example, birch. Everyone scrambles to find a birch tree and give it a big hug. Try not to step on live vegetation or wander too far from the trail.
Don’t forget to put the “outing” in Scouting. Cub Scouts enjoy hiking activities. Remember to pick a trail of an appropriate difficulty level for your age group. Webelos have a lot more stamina than Lions and Tigers. Here are some ideas to help with a Cub Scout activity or two centered around hiking.
The Hiking feature teaches Scouts how to prepare for a successful and safe exploration of locations near and far. Scouts learn to appreciate everything they see and experience around them with these hiking activities as they hike trails in parks, the back-country, and urban areas.
Do a craft to prepare for your hiking activities. Cub Scouts love to get their pocketknives out and strip bark from fallen sticks. Why not make it into a hiking stick project?