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 below.
Themed hikes usually involve looking for items which fit a theme or doing something similar. Some ideas:
- 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. This adds 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 while out hiking. There are good lists at Appalachian Mountain Club and Footprint Press. Here are some of my favorites:
- Chain Story: One person starts a story, but stops in the middle of a sentence oridea. 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.