As my kids inch closer to starting their first year of Scouts in Canada, I’ve been taking a look online to see what kinds of Scouts games they’ll be doing and how those play-based activities will help them develop skills to conquer the “real world” as they get older. From team-building games for kids to basic survival skills, it looks like they’ll cover a lot of ground.
Scouts Canada’s mission is to enable youth to develop into capable, confident, well-rounded individuals who are better prepared for success in the world. This also happens to be at the core of what we, as parents, strive to do — help our kids become well-adjusted adults who can navigate life independently.
There’s still time to join Scouts! Learn more about Scouts Canada registration.
At the heart of the Scouting program, kids are encouraged to discover the outdoors, lead or participate in community building projects, crush some physical activity and do some hands-on learning. (And, hey, if they make a couple of lifelong friends along the way, I’ll consider that a nice bonus.)
We aren’t the most outdoorsy parents, and my kids have watched me struggle with a slightly crippling fear of bugs their whole lives. My hope is that through different outdoor Scout games, Miss Q and The K Man will become more comfortable in the outdoors than I ever was.
I also expect their Scouters (those are Scout leaders) will help pique their curiosity about critters and basic survival skills, help them appreciate the outdoors and show them that the wilderness can be an exciting place to explore. Scouts teaches kids to “Leave No Trace,” which means exactly what you think: kids will enjoy outdoor adventures to the fullest and minimize their impact by leaving no sign they were ever there. (This is the most ethical, sustainable way to exist in nature, BTW!)
Scout activities are all rooted in the Scout law, with an emphasis on being positive and trustworthy. Everything is centred around team-building games for kids in each stage of their Scouting journey — showing them the value of teamwork.
And by virtue of its youth-led programming model — the adults are merely there to gently guide and facilitate the Scout meeting ideas— each Scout has the opportunity to learn real leadership skills, too.
My kids will probably find themselves playing Scouts games from week to week and not even realize they’re learning. I personally think that’s the best way to teach kids — through FUN. And with more than 40 million Scouts in 160 countries around the globe, I feel confident that this is a global community that empowers young leaders through fun!
Scouting has always been and continues to be a non-formal learning environment devoted to building a better world and empowering today’s young leaders. It focuses on four key aspects that define its age-appropriate programming (called the Canadian Path):
- SPICES (Social, Physical, Intellectual, Character, Emotional and Spiritual)
All of the Scout activities and Scouts games that my kids will be part of are created to respect and value diversity and inclusion, which is something we clearly need more than ever in a world that seems to be going backwards in time.
I found so many fun outdoor Scouts games and activities online: nature hunts, campfires, capture the flag, kick the can, birding, tree-planting, flashlight tag and firefly catch-and-release.
Indoor Scout games are going to be essential for the coldest winter months, and things like penny BINGO, freeze dance, scrapbooking and limbo will be a blast. Plus, they’ll experience winter challenges and learn important survival skills during winter hikes, camps and other activities.
Beaver Scout games and Cub Scout games will obviously be geared to the younger set and as kids get older, the outdoor games for youth (such as scavenger hikes) will get progressively more challenging.
An overview of Scouts badges
Although Scouts Canada has done away with sashes, Scouts can set goals to gain personal achievement badges which can be patched on to their uniforms, or they can collect crests (which some people may still call Scouts patches) to stitch on campfire blankets!
But, ultimately, Scouting is not about collecting those badges. Instead, they’re used — optionally — to celebrate the personal journey and goals set by each Scout, marking important milestones and achievements.
Beaver Scout (ages 5-7)
Beaver Scout activities offer a bit of everything, encouraging these little ones to develop socially, physically, intellectually and emotionally. It’s about meeting new friends, learning how to co-operate and become more self-confident.
The Beaver personal achievement badges list (which you can find in full detail here) includes 16 different goals that kids can work towards, like healthy eating, helping others and being imaginative.
Cub Scout (ages 8-10)
With their Cub Packs, kids head out on outdoor adventures, do STEM projects and are exposed to different cultural experiences.
Cub Scout badges, like Beaver Scout badges, include 16 different personal achievement badges (check out the Cub Scouts pack log), but also have nine outdoor adventure skills badges up for grabs, too. Outdoor Adventure Skills invites Scouts to try something new with life-changing experiences that put them to the test with progressive challenges that grow as they do, all in a safe environment.
It teaches competencies like sailing, camping and aquatic skills, but also emergency skills — like knowing your address by heart, how to access services like police and ambulance, and using the “buddy system.” So it’s not just about surviving in the wilderness. It’s also about being safe and responsible at home alone or out exploring your own neighbourhood with friends.
Scout (ages 11-14)
Scouts in this age bracket start learning what it means to be a trailblazer, taking on more leadership opportunities and giving back to their communities in meaningful ways. They continue to build on Scouts skills and take outdoor adventure to the next level (think mountain biking, rock climbing, extended camping trips and more).
Want to get into the great outdoors and go camping as a family in Algonquin Park on a fully-guided, all-inclusive experience? Read my post about Wild Adventures Canada.
Scouts badges follow the same path as Cub Scout badges, but with the addition of personal progression badges (explained in full here).
These are defined by personal challenges, as well as assisting with and then leading Troop activities.
There are also Venturer Scouts (ages 15-17) and Rover Scouts (ages 18-26), but I honestly haven’t looked this far down the road! Mostly because I don’t want to cry thinking about my kids being that old…
No matter what lies ahead for Miss Q and The K Man, one thing is for certain: they’re both going to come away from their first Scouts experience this year having fun and learning something new. And that’s enough for me.
DISCLAIMER: Scouts Canada compensated me for this post. All research and opinions are my own.