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Into the Woods Adventure: Cub Scout Helps and Ideas

This information is for the Cub Scout program before the June 1, 2024 updates. After June 2024, all Cub Scouts should use the updated program requirements. See here.

The Webelos Into the Woods adventure is an elective designed to impart foundational knowledge about trees and plants. It aligns well with Scouting values, emphasizing respect for nature, responsibility, and community involvement. Participants learn how to identify various types of trees and plants, understand their role in local ecosystems, and even get hands-on experience with planting.

into the woods

The adventure is particularly tailored to educate Webelos on how both wildlife and humans benefit from plants and trees. This not only fosters a sense of environmental stewardship but also underscores the importance of balanced ecosystems for community well-being.

One of the more practical aspects involves the Cub Scouts taking stock of how wood is used in everyday items. This brings the conceptual knowledge about forestry into a tangible context they can relate to. It’s a clear way to connect daily life to larger environmental themes.

Understanding the history and biology of trees, such as reading growth rings and identifying bark types, adds another layer of depth to this educational experience. It’s about making observations and deductions, key skills that are transferrable to various aspects of life.

To wrap it up, the visit to a nature center or similar location serves as an interactive capstone. Cub Scouts engage with experts to deepen their understanding and discuss how trees and plants contribute to environmental health. This elective adventure, thus, acts as a comprehensive introduction to forestry and environmental awareness, rooted in the values that Scouting holds dear.

Webelos Into the Woods Adventure Requirements

Complete requirements 1–4 and one other

  1. Identify two different groups of trees and the parts of a tree.
  2. Identify four trees common to the area where you live. Tell whether they are native to your area. Tell how both
    wildlife and humans use them.
  3. Identify four plants common to the area where you live. Tell which animals use them and for what purpose.
  4. Develop a plan to care for and then plant at least one plant or tree, either indoors in a pot or outdoors. Tell how this
    plant or tree helps the environment in which it is planted and what the plant or tree will be used for.
  5. Make a list of items in your home that are made from wood and share it with your den. Or with your den, take a
    walk and identify useful things made from wood.
  6. Explain how the growth rings of a tree trunk tell its life story. Describe different types of tree bark and explain what
    the bark does for the tree.
  7. Visit a nature center, nursery, tree farm, or park, and speak with someone knowledgeable about trees and plants
    that are native to your area. Explain how plants and trees are important to our ecosystem and how they improve our

Resources and Answers for the Into the Woods Adventure

About Trees

For the first Into the Woods requirement of identifying two different groups of trees and the parts of a tree, preparation and observation are key. Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Pre-Study: Before heading out, do some basic research on the common groups of trees in your area. Knowing terms like “coniferous” and “deciduous” will make identification easier.
  • Field Guide: Carry a field guide or a tree identification app. This helps you cross-reference what you’re seeing and provides a quick way to verify your identifications.
  • Visual Cues: Pay attention to the leaf shape, bark texture, and overall form of the tree. Each group of trees has unique characteristics that can aid in identification.
  • Touch and Smell: Some trees can be identified by the texture of their bark or even their scent. But remember, some trees can have harmful substances, so check your field guide before touching.
  • Parts of a Tree: Familiarize yourself with terms like “crown,” “trunk,” “roots,” and “leaves.” Knowing these parts will not only help you in identification but also deepen your understanding of how trees function.

Remember, practice makes perfect. The more you engage with this, the more confident you’ll become in your tree-identifying abilities.

Groups of Trees

Trees can be categorized into various groups based on characteristics like leaf type, reproductive structures, and wood properties. Here are some common groupings to help with Into the Woods requirement 1:

  • Conifers: Also known as evergreens, these trees have needle-like leaves and produce cones instead of flowers. Examples include pine, spruce, and fir trees.
  • Deciduous: These trees lose their leaves annually. They usually have broad, flat leaves and produce flowers or fruit. Examples are oak, maple, and birch.
  • Broadleaf Evergreens: These trees have broad leaves but don’t shed them annually. Examples include holly and some species of eucalyptus.
  • Palms: Different from typical trees, palms have unbranched trunks and large fronds instead of regular leaves. Coconut and date palms are examples.
  • Fruit Trees: While many deciduous trees bear fruit, this category specifically includes trees cultivated for their edible fruits, such as apple, peach, and cherry trees.
  • Flowering Trees: This group is characterized by conspicuous flowers, though they may also bear fruit. Examples include dogwood, magnolia, and cherry blossom trees.
  • Hardwoods and Softwoods: This classification is based on the tree’s wood properties. Hardwoods like oak and maple are deciduous, while softwoods like pine and fir are usually conifers.
  • Tropical Trees: These are species that grow in tropical climates, often having unique adaptations like buttress roots. Examples include the kapok and rubber trees.

Understanding these groups can help in identification and also gives insight into the different roles trees play in various ecosystems.

Parts of a Tree

A tree can be divided into major parts, each with a specific function. Here’s a rundown for Into the Woods requirement 1:

  • Root System: Below ground, the roots anchor the tree and absorb water and nutrients. They can also store food for the tree.
  • Trunk: This is the main stem of the tree, providing structural support. The trunk is made up of layers, including bark, cambium, xylem, and phloem.
  • Branches: Extending from the trunk, branches provide the framework for leaves, flowers, and fruit. They also help in transporting nutrients and water.
  • Leaves: The main site for photosynthesis, leaves capture sunlight and convert it into energy. They also play a role in transpiration, helping the tree to lose excess water.
  • Crown: This refers to the tree’s foliage and branches taken together, essentially the above-ground portion of the tree. The crown’s shape can help in tree identification.

Understanding these parts not only aids in identifying trees but also helps in understanding their biology and role in ecosystems.

Common Trees

For Into the Woods requirement 2, identifying four common trees in your area involves some research, observation, and perhaps a little community interaction. Here are some guidelines:

  • Local Resources: Check out local nature guides, online databases (with permission), or even local forestry departments to get a list of common trees in your area. This will give you a starting point.
  • Native or Not: While researching, note whether the trees are native to your region or introduced. Native trees are generally better adapted to the local environment and more beneficial to native wildlife.
  • Field Trip: Take a walk in a local park, nature reserve, or even your neighborhood. Use your pre-study and field guide to help you identify trees. Pay attention to leaf shape, bark, and any fruits or flowers.
  • Wildlife Use: Observe or research how local wildlife interact with these trees. Some trees provide food in the form of fruit, nuts, or leaves, while others may offer shelter or nesting sites.
  • Human Use: Consider how these trees are used by humans. This can range from ornamental use in landscaping to more practical uses like timber or medicine.

Completing this requirement will give you a more intimate understanding of your local environment and how it’s utilized by both wildlife and humans.

Plants and Wildlife

For Into the Woods requirement 3, which is about identifying four common plants and their interactions with local wildlife, the following tips should be useful:

  • Research: Similar to identifying trees, begin by doing some preliminary research on common plants in your area. Local guides or websites can be a good resource.
  • Visual Aids: Take a field guide or use a plant identification app when you’re out and about. This can help you confirm your identifications on the spot.
  • Observe: When you’re in a natural setting, look at the plants closely. Note the leaf shape, color, and any flowers or fruits. These details are crucial for accurate identification.
  • Animal Interactions: Pay attention to any signs of animal activity. Some plants might have nibbled leaves, while others may show evidence of serving as a habitat. Birds often favor certain plants for nesting, and some plants may have fruits that have been eaten.
  • Usage Notes: Make a note of how animals are using these plants. Are they a food source? Do they offer shelter? Understanding these interactions will give you a fuller picture of your local ecosystem.

By following these tips, you’ll gain a more comprehensive understanding of the plants in your area and their role in supporting local wildlife.

Caring for Plants and Trees

For Into the Woods requirement 4, developing a plan to care for and plant a tree or plant involves both logistical and environmental considerations. Here are some tips to guide you:

  • Selection: Choose a plant or tree that’s suitable for your location. Consider soil quality, sunlight, and hardiness zones. Native species are generally a good choice as they’re adapted to local conditions.
  • Purpose: Know what you’re aiming for. Is it for shade, ornamental value, or perhaps to attract wildlife? Your objective will influence your choice of plant or tree.
  • Location: Whether planting indoors or outdoors, make sure you have an appropriate spot. Keep in mind the mature size of the plant or tree, and make sure it won’t interfere with structures or utility lines.
  • Care Plan: Research the watering, fertilization, and light requirements for your chosen plant. Make a schedule or set reminders to ensure consistent care.
  • Environmental Impact: Understand how your plant or tree will contribute to the local ecosystem. Will it provide food for wildlife, or maybe improve air quality? Knowing this enhances the educational value of the activity.

By following these tips, you’ll not only successfully plant and care for a tree or plant but also gain insights into its environmental contributions and potential uses.

Wooden Items

For Into the Woods requirement 5, identifying wooden items in your home or during a walk can be an enlightening experience. Here are some common items to consider:

  1. Furniture: Desks, chairs, and tables are often made from wood. Wooden cabinets and shelves are also common in many homes.
  2. Kitchen Items: Cutting boards, wooden spoons, and rolling pins are usually wood-based. Some cabinets and countertops might be made of wood as well.
  3. Decor: Picture frames, wooden sculptures, and wall hangings may all be crafted from wood. Check for smaller items like coasters too.
  4. Structural Elements: Doors, window frames, and flooring could be made of wood. If you have a wooden deck or fence, those would count as well.
  5. Musical Instruments: Pianos, guitars, and some wind instruments are often made from various types of wood due to its acoustical properties.

Compiling a list of these items can serve as a practical exercise in recognizing the ubiquity and versatility of wood in everyday life. Sharing this list with your den can also be a way to compare notes and learn from each other.

Growth Rings

Growth rings in a tree trunk serve as a natural archive of a tree’s life and the conditions it has faced. Each ring typically represents one year of growth. Here’s how to read them:

  • Ring Width: A wide ring indicates a year of good growing conditions—adequate rainfall, moderate temperatures, and less competition for resources. Narrow rings often signify stressful conditions like drought or extreme temperatures.
  • Ring Color: The lighter part of the ring, known as earlywood, is formed during the early growing season when water is abundant. The darker part, latewood, is formed later in the season when growth slows.
  • Spacing: Uniformly spaced rings suggest stable growing conditions. If you see clusters of narrow rings, the tree likely faced several years of difficult conditions.
  • Imperfections: Knots may appear where branches were once attached. Scar tissue can form in response to fire or other injuries. These features can also indicate a tree’s history and resilience.
  • Additional Markers: Sometimes, the rings may have unusual markings like stains or color changes, indicating diseases or insect infestations the tree has endured.

So, by examining the growth rings, you can gather significant insights into not just the age of the tree, but also the environmental conditions it has lived through.

Tree Ring Worksheet

Using a tree ring worksheet can be a valuable aid in fulfilling the Into the Woods requirement 5 about understanding tree growth rings. It provides a structured way to understand the complex anatomy of a tree’s trunk, as well as the significance of its growth rings. It outlines key components like the outer bark, inner bark, cambium, heartwood, and sapwood, explaining their functions. The worksheet also prompts scouts to draw their own tree ring diagram, which can help solidify their understanding of how varying ring widths can indicate different growing conditions. Overall, the worksheet serves as an effective educational tool for fulfilling the Into the Woods requirement about tree growth rings.

Tree Bark

Tree bark varies widely among different species, serving multiple functions for the tree. Here are some types of bark and their purposes:

  • Smooth Bark: Found on trees like beech or young cherry trees, smooth bark allows for efficient gas exchange. However, it’s more susceptible to damage.
  • Rough Bark: Common on older trees or species like oak and pine, rough bark offers better protection against pests, disease, and physical damage.
  • Peeling Bark: Seen on trees like birch and eucalyptus, peeling bark allows for easy shedding of the outer layer, helping the tree to quickly get rid of parasites or diseases.
  • Scaly Bark: Found on trees like spruce or older pines, the overlapping scales provide added protection and can hold in moisture, which is beneficial in dry conditions.
  • Corky Bark: On trees like the cork oak, this type of bark is particularly insulating, providing thermal regulation and protection against fire.

Bark primarily serves as a protective layer. It shields the tree from external threats like pests, diseases, and adverse weather conditions. It also serves a role in water retention and insulation, while some types even help in the quick shedding of parasites. Bark can also be involved in nutrient transportation and gas exchange, depending on its structure.

The Importance of Plants and Trees

Plants and trees play multiple roles in maintaining a healthy ecosystem and improving our environment. Here’s a breakdown:

  • Carbon Sequestration: One of the most well-known functions is capturing carbon dioxide during photosynthesis. This process reduces the overall levels of greenhouse gases, mitigating climate change to some extent.
  • Oxygen Production: The photosynthesis process also releases oxygen, essential for human and animal respiration. Trees produce a significant amount of the world’s oxygen supply.
  • Habitat: Forests and plant life offer habitats for a multitude of organisms. They provide food, shelter, and breeding grounds, contributing to biodiversity.
  • Soil Health: Plants and trees help prevent soil erosion by holding it together with their root systems. Some plants, like legumes, even enrich soil by fixing nitrogen.
  • Water Cycle: Trees contribute to the water cycle by absorbing and releasing water. They also act as natural water filters, improving water quality in rivers and streams.

Understanding these roles underscores the importance of plant and tree conservation. The benefits they offer are interconnected and vital for sustaining various life forms, including humans.

Draw the Layers of the Forest

The “Layers of a Forest” worksheet can be a useful tool in enhancing the educational experience of the Into the Woods adventure. It introduces the concept of forest stratification by describing the different layers, from the canopy down to the forest floor. Understanding these layers can give scouts a more holistic view of forest ecosystems, making activities like identifying trees and plants more contextual and meaningful. The worksheet also engages them in active learning by asking them to draw and label their own forest layer diagram. This activity not only reinforces the information but also offers a hands-on way to internalize the structure and complexity of forests.

Seed Neckerchief Slide Craft

Incorporating the Seed Neckerchief Slide craft into the Into the Woods adventure can serve multiple purposes. First, it ties in well with the adventure’s focus on understanding trees and plants, as the base of the slide is a tree branch slice and the decorative elements are seeds. It also gives scouts a hands-on project that reinforces their learning. The crafting process could spur discussions about the types of trees that the branch slices come from, or how different seeds contribute to forest ecology. Additionally, the finished product serves as a functional item, useful in everyday scouting activities, which aligns with the scouting principle of resourcefulness. Overall, this craft activity complements the educational objectives while offering a practical, creative outlet.

Cub Scout World Conservation Award

The Into the Woods adventure directly contributes to earning the Cub Scout World Conservation Award for Webelos Scouts. It fulfills one of the adventure requirements for the award and covers essential topics like understanding and conserving trees and plants. Moreover, some of the hands-on activities in Into the Woods, such as tree planting, could serve as a basis for the conservation project also required for the award. In essence, completing this adventure not only educates scouts on conservation but also sets the stage for further, project-based contributions to environmental stewardship.

Nova WILD! Cub Scout Nova Award (Nature and Wildlife Science)

The “Into the Woods” adventure can be a useful stepping stone for Cub Scouts aiming to earn the Nova WILD! award focused on nature and wildlife science. This adventure involves learning about trees, plants, and conservation, which aligns well with Nova WILD!’s emphasis on ecosystems and habitats. Scouts can directly apply their understanding of plant life and ecosystems from “Into the Woods” to meet Nova WILD!’s requirements, such as discussing biodiversity or creating a food web. The adventure’s hands-on activities can also complement the investigative or project-based elements required for Nova WILD!, offering a practical, integrated approach to exploring natural science.

Rice Crispy Treat Trees Recipe

The Rice Crispy Treat Trees recipe can be a fun and thematic addition to the Into the Woods Cub Scout adventure, which focuses on learning about trees and forestry. The “tree trunks” made from rice cereal represent the main structural element of trees, while the green marshmallow-coated corn flakes serve as a sugary stand-in for tree leaves or canopy. This hands-on snack-making experience can be used to discuss tree anatomy and the importance of different tree parts. Scouts can enjoy their edible “trees” as a tangible connection to the adventure’s educational goals, making the learning experience more engaging. Plus, the inclusion of candies might make for a light-hearted discussion on “wildlife” that can be found in different types of forests.

Frequently Asked Questions about the Into the Woods Adventure

What is the main objective of the Into the Woods adventure?

The main goal of the Into the Woods adventure is to educate Cub Scouts about the importance of trees, plants, and natural resources in our ecosystem.

Is the Into the Woods adventure required for Webelos?

No, Into the Woods is an elective adventure. However, it is highly recommended for Cub Scout interested in nature and conservation.

What age group is the Into the Woods adventure designed for?

The Into the Woods adventure is aimed at Webelos and Arrow of Light Scouts, who are typically in the 4th or 5th grade.

How long does it usually take to complete the Into the Woods adventure?

Completion time can vary, but with regular meetings and some at-home or outdoor activities, the into the Woods adventure usually takes about a month or less.

Can the Into the Woods adventure be done individually?

While some activities can be done individually, the Into the Woods adventure also involves discussion with the den.

Do we need special equipment for the Into the Woods Adventure?

Most activities require basic outdoor gear like hiking boots and a magnifying glass. Specialized items, if needed, are generally mentioned in the adventure guide.

Is adult supervision required for the Into the Woods adventure?

Yes, especially for outdoor activities and visits to nature centers or nurseries.

What should we do if we can’t find a local tree or plant expert for the Into the Woods adventure?

Online resources, books, and even virtual sessions can serve as substitutes, although in-person experiences are generally more effective.

Can we combine the Into the Woods adventure with other scouting activities?

Absolutely, Into the Woods pairs well with other outdoor adventures and conservation service projects.


One response to “Into the Woods Adventure: Cub Scout Helps and Ideas”

  1. Jessica Avatar

    I love all your stuff!! Thank you!

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