Last weekend, we had our fall cub camp at Chilliwack Lake Camp. I hear a lot of talk about how kids need to get out and get active, and I totally agree. One reason is to avoid the obesity problem, but another is that children learn by playing. When you restrict their play, you restrict their learning. The generation of North American children that was the most creative and achieved some of our greatest experiences was one that had the greatest freedom to roam and explore.
Over this weekend, here are some of the things that we did:
Lighting Fires Without Matches
First off, we took them on a hike of the boundaries of the camp. The camp covers quite an area with lots of bush, so we were setting limits, but for 8 to 10 year old boys, the limits were pretty expansive!
Once that was out of the way, we had a talk with them about lighting fires without matches. As we were describing this, the rain kept getting heavier and heavier. It was getting everything damp, and dripping on everything. Having explained the concepts, we then went to the fire pit, with each cub holding a fluffed out cotton ball and some tinder, and we proceeded to have them try lighting a fire with their choice of batteries and steel wool or flint stick, cotton and tinder. The battery was quick and easy. Too much so. Everyone wanted to use the flint stick. It didn’t help that Kaa (the leader) had lit it in one strike, a stroke of success which he couldn’t duplicate so easily in later attempts. It took many attempts but finally our littlest cub (who seemed to have a knack – he did it several times) managed to light his tinder in just about 30 seconds.
Capture the Flag
We had a game of capture the flag. In my days we played cops and robbers, cowboys and Indians, or war. For these guys it was capture the flag. Lovely diversion, this.
We like to get them to do a craft that is something useful that they can take pride in and reuse for a long time, so we had them build folding camp chairs. All the wood was precut, but they had to hammer, screw, hammer, sand, hammer, sand, sand, and sand. They used the chairs for the campfire and for the chapel service.
The next thing we did was a segment on building survival shelters. Now, there was a bit of an unofficial Star Wars theme going on at the camp. So instead of a survival shelter it became the building of their ewok home. They were building a fort, using an old fallen log, sticks propped up against it, and ferns to thatch it.
Star Wars – Darth Rann
My cub leader name is Rann (Now Rann the kite brings home the night that Mang the bat sets free… Opening stanza of the rhyme the starts the Jungle Book). I already mentioned the star wars theme that was going on. Well I was conscripted to join the bad guys, so I did, not as Darth Vader, but as Darth Rann. I think I mentioned the unofficial Star Wars theme?
Anyways, partway through, the good guys had captured some of our people and put them in jail so we attacked them in an effort to get them out. It seems I got hacked into about 12 pieces, all of which were put into the jail. Shortly after being put in I discovered a window big enough for the pieces to get out. This precipitated an epic battle in which the remaining functional piece (head, shoulder and arm with light sabre) had the head lopped off. After that, I was the Ghost of Darth Rann.
It’s been a while since I played that kind of game with the kids. It was a lot of fun, even if it did stretch my imagination a bit!
A bit later, I was checking out some more fire lighting that was going on near the chapel. While I was ready to film it, I noticed an interesting thing going on with another group of cubs near the water. They were picking out boulders that were sticking out of the water, and naming them as continents, then bombarding them with rocks until they had “captured” them. Then they would sing O Canada to claim them. (I caught this on video). Later they got a bit strange and for Australia, they sang “O Australia”. I guess they let it keep its name…
And Much More
We had a campfire and they did skits.
We had a chapel service (called a Cub’s Own) the next morning. There were more Star Wars episodes than Hollywood ever knew had taken place, and generally, a great time was had by all!