RATIONALE FOR ADVENTURE

In this Arrow of Light adventure, Scouts will go on campouts where they can gain and develop new outdoor skills.

TAKEAWAYS FOR CUB SCOUTS

  • Building on and improving outdoor skills
  • Preparing for weather emergencies
  • Planning campfire programs
  • Tying bowline knots
  • Using GPS units while geocaching
  • Outdoor Code and Leave No Trace Principles for Kids
  • A Scout is helpful, trustworthy, thrifty.IconArrow

ADVENTURE REQUIREMENTSCamperHandbook

Do all of these:

  1. With the help of your den leader or family, plan and conduct a campout. If your chartered organization does not permit Cub Scout camping, you may substitute a family campout or a daylong outdoor activity with your den or pack.
  2. On arrival at the campout, with your den and den leader or family, determine where to set up your ent. Demonstrate knowledge of what makes a good tent site and what makes a bad one. Set up your tent without help from an adult.
  3. Once your tents are set up, discuss with your den what actions you should take in the case of the following extreme weather events which could require you to evacuate:
    a. Severe rainstorm causing flooding
    b. Severe thunderstorm with lightning or tornadoes
    c. Fire, earthquake, or other disaster that will require evacuation. Discuss what you have done to minimize as much danger as possible.
  4. On a pack campout, work with your den leader or another adult to plan a campfire program with the other dens. Your campfire program should include an impressive opening, songs, skits, a Cubmaster’s minute, and an inspirational closing ceremony.
  5. Show how to tie a bowline. Explain when the knot should be used and why. Teach it to another Scout who is not a Webelos Scout.
  6. Go on a geocaching adventure with your den or family. Show how you used a GPS unit or a smartphone with a GPS application to locate a geocache.
  7. Recite the Outdoor Code and the Leave No Trace Principles for Kids from memory. Talk about how you can demonstrate them while you are working on your Arrow of Light. After one outing, list the things you did to follow the Outdoor Code and Leave No Trace.

NOTES TO DEN LEADER

This adventure may require the assistance of expert volunteers for the Leave No Trace (LNT) training and geocaching activities. Reading Boy Scout resources like the Geocaching merit badge pamphlet may also help prepare you. The council or district can provide Outdoor Ethics training and other outdoor skills information; see if they host any special events to aid Webelos Scouts in this adventure.

Confirm plans for the pack campout with families, including transportation, all the necessary clothing, and any additional items they need to bring. Make sure a tour and activity plan has been submitted, if required, and activity consent forms are distributed, signed, and collected.

The Meeting 4 Plan offers ideas for a geocache outing. If the location allows and the timing is preferred, this outing could be combined with Meeting 2, which gives Scouts an overview of geocaching and the opportunity to practice using a GPS. In advance of the outing, the leader will need to make arrangements with the outing location and confirm the outing plan with families, including transportation and any additional items they need to bring.Make sure a tour and activity plan has been submitted, if required, and activity consent forms are distributed, signed, and collected. If there will not be a den outing, make sure to include a geocaching adventure (requirement 6) as an activity during the pack campout.

See the Appendix for optional den meeting activities, including openings, gatherings, and closings.

Webelos den overnight campouts are parent-son events, under the direction of the Webelos den leader. It is recommended that at least one Webelos leader be trained in Outdoor Leader Skills for Webelos Leaders, which is in addition to basic training. At the den overnight campout, the Webelos den leader may be assisted by the assistant Webelos den leader and the Webelos den chief. Sometimes, additional leadership from a Boy Scout troop may join you.

In most cases, each Webelos Scout is under the supervision of his own father, mother, or guardian. If a parent or guardian cannot attend, the boy’s family should make arrangements for one of the other parents or another adult relative or friend to be a substitute at the campout. It’s essential that each Webelos Scout is under the supervision of an adult and that every adult has a share of the responsibility for the campout.

Webelos dens are encouraged to participate in joint overnight campouts with a Boy Scout troop. However, a parent or guardian of each Webelos Scout should still attend.

More details on planning Webelos den campouts may be found in the appendix to this Webelos Den Leader Guide and in the Cub Scout Leader Book.

meeting

PREPARATION AND MATERIALS NEEDED

  • U.S. and den flags
  • 6-inch pieces of rope (one for every two Scouts) for tying bowline knots (Activity 1)
  • Longer ropes for the Rope Relay (Activity 2, one rope per team)
  • Outdoor Code and Leave No Trace Principles for Kids, written in large print on poster boards (Activity 3)
  • Practice your own knot tying before the meeting. Once you have it down, try tying with only one hand. (Many websites offer information to help.)
  • Arrange with the Cubmaster (or other adults in charge) to attend this meeting and help plan the upcoming pack campout.

GATHERING

  • As Webelos arrive for the meeting, have them warm up by tying the knots they learned as Cub Scouts:
    — Two half-hitches — Overhand knot — Square knot
  • If a boy joined later and hasn’t learned those knots, pair him with a buddy who can teach him.

OPENING

  • Conduct a flag ceremony of your choosing that includes the Pledge of Allegiance and the Scout Law.
  • Have the denner lead a roll call. When each Scout's name is called, have him share a favorite part of camping.

TALK TIME

  • Carry out business items for the den.
  • Allow time for sharing among Webelos Scouts.
  • Introduce the Camper adventure to the den. Build interest by describing the goals of the adventure and some of the activities that are planned.
  • Discuss plans for the pack campout and campfire program. (See den leader training and BALOO resources for assistance.)

ACTIVITIES

Icon Activity 1: Bowline Knots (Requirement 5)

  • Each Scout will tie a bowline knot and learn when it is used (for rescues) and why (because it doesn’t slip). See Meeting 1 Resources for one method; a number of animated knot-tying websites may also be useful.
  • Note: Each Scout must also follow up after the meeting by teaching the knot to a younger boy who isn’t yet a Webelos Scout.

Icon Activity 2: Rope Relay

  • Once Scouts have mastered the bowline knot, set up a rope relay. Divide the den into two teams. Give each team a rope and have them tie it to a fence, table, or other solid object so they only have one end to work with (simulating a rescue situation).
  • The teams stand single file opposite their ropes and, in turn, each teammate runs to the rope, ties a bowline around his waist, then leans back until the rope is taut but doesn’t slip.
  • Have the den chief serve as judge to verify each knot is correct. Once this is done, the player unties the knot, returns to his team, and tags the next Scout, who repeats the process.
  • The team that finishes first wins. If you have an uneven number of Scouts, the first player on one team will go twice.

Icon Activity 3: Outdoor Ethics (Requirement 7)

  • Using the poster boards you prepared, lead the Webelos Scouts in reciting and learning the Outdoor Code and the Leave No Trace Principles for Kids. (See Meeting 1 Resources for more information.)
  • Outdoor Code: As an American, I will do my best to: Be clean in my outdoor manners. Be careful with fire. Be considerate in the outdoors. Be conservation-minded.
  • Leave No Trace Principles for Kids:
    — Know before you go.
    — Choose the right path.
    — Trash your trash.
    — Leave what you find.
    — Be careful with fire.
    — Respect wildlife.
    — Be kind to other visitors.
  • Lead a discussion about ways the Webelos Scouts can demonstrate the code and principles while working on their Arrow of Light ranks.
  • Cub Scouts learn the Leave No Trace Principles for Kids. As Scouts work on the Arrow of Light rank and prepare for Boy Scouts, they should become familiar with the more advanced Leave No Trace Seven Principles as described in the Meeting 1 Resources. .

CLOSING

  • Gather the den in a circle and recite the Scout Law.

DHouseGamesTigersPlayo-at-Home Project Reminder:
Remind Scouts to practice reciting the Outdoor Code and the Leave No Trace Principles for Kids as part of requirement 7.

AFTER THE MEETING

  • Serve refreshments, if desired.
  • Work together to clean up the meeting place.
  • Record completion of requirement 5.
  • Prepare thank-you notes for anyone who will be helping with the pack campout (Meeting 3) and geocache outing (Meeting 4).

Meeting1Resources

ACTIVITIES

Icon Activity 1: Bowline Knots

  • Give each Scout a 6-inch piece of rope and divide the den into buddy pairs. In each pair, one Scout holds the end of the rope while his buddy makes a loop in the middle (see step A below).

CamperBowlineKnots

  • The Scout tying holds the loop in his left hand and, with his right hand, passes the rope around his body. Now, the rope from the loop to the other person is the “tree,” the loop is the “hole,” and the free end of the rope is the “rabbit”: The rabbit comes out of his hole, runs around the tree, and runs back down the hole.
  • Hold the free end against the rope, have the other person pull on his end, and the result is a bowline. Now, if the rope is pulled, it should hold the tying Scout’s weight without the knot slipping.
  • Have buddies switch places, untie the knot, and begin again so they both can learn.

Icon Activity 3: Outdoor EthicsCamperLeaveNoTrace

Leave No Trace
From the Boy Scout Handbook, 12th ed., pages 244–256

In the early years of our nation, you could have camped almost anywhere. The population of the country was small. In fact, most of the land was wilderness. Towns, roads, and farms were few. There weren’t yet many demands on the land. As the nation grew, its needs began to turn much of the land into farms and cities. Dams tamed rivers to provide electrical power. People cleared forests for lumber and to make room for crops.

The open country that remains today is home to a rich variety of animals and plants. It is the source of clean water for everyone to drink, and its vegetation freshens the air we breathe. When you want to camp and hike, you can visit parks, forests, and Scout camps across the nation. With that freedom comes a duty to care for the environment. That means enjoying the outdoors, learning from it, and then leaving it as you found it. Scouts do this by following the principles of Leave No Trace—guidelines for traveling and camping without leaving any signs you were there.

Scouting’s Trail to Outdoor Ethics

For more than a century, the Boy Scouts of America has been a leader in teaching the conservation of natural resources. The 1910 edition of the Boy Scout Handbook included a Conservation merit badge. To earn that badge, Scouts had to learn the value of timberland, the causes of water pollution, what made a farm field suitable for growing crops, and which game animals could be found nearby.

William T. Hornaday, director of the New York Zoological Park and a strong supporter of Scouting, made a plea in the Handbook’s second edition (1914) for Scouts to help preserve wildlife habitat. The Gold Award of the Permanent Wild Life Protection Fund (later renamed the William T. Hornaday Award) was created to recognize Scouts who were making special efforts to care for the environment.

In the decades that followed, Handbooks continued to encourage Scouts to see themselves as protectors of nature. In 1948, the BSA introduced the Outdoor Code—a conservation pledge that Scouts could use during all of their outdoor adventures.

Scouts continued to increase their skills and to make their way deeper into the backcountry. They were paddling, pedaling, and climbing farther than ever before. They were learning to feel at home in wilderness areas. As they understood more about the impact they could have, they increased their efforts to protect trails and campgrounds. Handbooks and merit badge pamphlets discussed minimum-impact camping, and the BSA encouraged the use of camp stoves in places where campfires might scar the land. Other groups were moving in the same direction as they encouraged people who liked going to the outdoors to help care for it, too.

In the early 1990s, a number of federal land-management agencies agreed that Leave No Trace would give everyone basic guidelines for using the outdoors responsibly and a common language for discussing the best ways to minimize our recreational impacts. Today, the principles of Leave No Trace are used throughout America. Scouting is proud to be a partner in this ongoing effort.

Using Leave No Trace

Scouting’s adventures cover a wide range of activities—from tenting at public campgrounds and BSA council camps to backpacking many miles through forests, deserts, and mountains.

Think about outdoor ethics and Leave No Trace wherever you hike, camp, or do any other outdoor activity, and do your best to follow its principles. Make them a guide for how you conduct yourself in the outdoors.

LEAVE NO TRACE SEVEN PRINCIPLES*

*The member-driven Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics teaches people how to enjoy the
outdoors responsibly. This copyrighted information has been reprinted with permission from the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics: www.LNT.org

1. Plan Ahead and Prepare

Good leadership happens when you have a vision of what a successful adventure will look like. Plan the steps to put yourself and your patrol into that picture. Being ready for the challenges that might arise is such an important part of Scouting that Be Prepared is the Boy Scout motto! A lack of planning can lead to unintended damage to equipment and the land.

Planning and being prepared are important for protecting the outdoors, too. Plan ahead and you’ll know what to expect wherever you are going. You can find out from land managers if there will be limits on the size of your group and what permission you might need to obtain. The land managers also might suggest other ways you can lessen your impact.

2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces

Durable surfaces are areas that will not be damaged by your footsteps, bicycles, or tents. A trail is a good example of a durable surface. The soil of the trail tread has become so compacted that little can grow there. By staying on existing trails, you are protecting the surrounding landscape and the plants and animals that live there.

Scout camps and many public parks and forests already have durable campsites laid out. If there are no designated camping areas, make your camp on sand, gravel, rock, compacted soil, dry grasses, or snow. All of these are durable surfaces.

Carelessness in choosing a campsite and hiking or pedaling where there is no trail can harm the land in several ways. Campers walking to and from cooking areas, water sources, and their tents can trample plant communities, pack down the soil, and form unwanted pathways. Hikers and cyclists using the edges of trails or going off a trail to get around a rutted or muddy stretch can widen pathways unnecessarily. Taking shortcuts, especially down hillsides, almost always leads to damage from erosion.

Pitch your tents well away from streams and lakes. This will allow animals to reach the water and will lessen your impact on shorelines. In addition, try to camp in the forest away from meadows and the trees at their edge. Deeper in the woods you will be sheltered from sun and wind, and your camp will blend into its surroundings. You are also less likely to beat down meadow grasses or to frighten away animals that use meadows as feeding grounds. Camping away from meadows is especially important in mountainous regions. Camping on top of fragile alpine meadow vegetation can cause it serious harm. Make your high-elevation camps in established campsites or on bare ground or snowfields.

3. Dispose of Waste Properly

Getting rid of human waste outdoors requires special care. In campgrounds that have restrooms or outhouses, be sure to use them. Where there are no such facilities, follow the guidance of local land managers. They are likely to direct you to dig a cathole or a latrine.

Digging a Cathole—Find a private spot at least 200 feet (75 steps) from water, campsites, and trails. Dig a hole 6 to 8 inches deep (4 to 6 inches in more arid areas) with your heel, a stick, or a trowel. Relieve yourself, and then refill the cathole with the soil. Organisms in the topsoil will safely break down the waste. Replace pine needles, leaves, or other ground cover. Push a stick into the ground to warn against digging in the same place. Always use a hand sanitizer afterward, or wash your hands with camp soap and plenty of water.

Making a Latrine—A patrol, troop, or other group camping in the same place more than a night or two can help reduce its impact by digging a latrine rather than making lots of catholes. For advice, check with land managers of the area where you will be camping.

To make a latrine, set aside any ground cover, then dig a shallow trench a foot wide, 3 to 4 feet long, and 6 to 8 inches deep. As with a cathole, go no deeper than the topsoil so that soil organisms will be able to break down the waste. Sprinkle a layer of soil in the trench after each use to help keep away flies and hold down odors. Return the remaining soil to the latrine when you break camp. Replace the ground cover you set aside.

Disposing of Dishwater—Strain food bits out of your dishwater and put them in your trash. Carry dishwater and rinse water away from your camp and at least 75 steps from any streams or lakes. Give the water a good fling to spread it over a wide area.

For long stays at one site, dig a sump hole at the edge of camp and at least 75 steps from streams, lakes, or other open water. The sump should be about a foot across and 2 feet deep. Use a sieve to catch food particles as you pour dishwater into a sump. Empty the particles into a trash bag to carry home, or consult with a land manager on proper disposal. Fill the sump when you break camp. Replace any ground cover.

4. Leave What You Find

Among the joys of being outdoors is finding evidence of the natural world and of our past. Resist the temptation to collect antlers, petrified wood, unusual rocks, alpine flowers, and other natural souvenirs. Hikers coming after you will want to enjoy these items, too. Removing almost anything can change an environment in ways that might have a negative effect on wildlife and plant communities.

Leave a place in as good a condition as you found it by removing everything that you bring into an area. Don’t leave structures or furniture at a campsite, and don’t dig trenches. “Pack it in, pack it out” is good advice when it comes to food wrappers, cans, paper, and whatever else you have carried to camp or along a trail.

5. Minimize Campfire Impacts

Many Scouts use stoves rather than campfires on all their camping trips. Without a wood fire at the center of a camp, they often find that they are more aware of their surroundings and of the night sky. Stoves are clean, quick to heat water and cook food, and easy to light in any weather. Best of all, they leave no marks on the land.

Campfires have their place, too. A fire can warm you, dry your clothes, and provide a focal point for gathering with friends. Bright flames can lift your spirits on a rainy morning. At night, glowing embers can stir your imagination.

A good Scout knows how to build a fire, especially in an emergency. He also knows there are often reasons not to light one.

  • Campfires can char the ground, blacken rocks, and sterilize soil. Vegetation might have a hard time growing where a fire has been.
  • Fires consume branches, bark, and other organic material that would have provided shelter and food for animals and plants.
  • Campfires must be closely watched to prevent them from spreading into surrounding grasses, brush, and trees.

Find out ahead of time if the area where you want to camp permits the use of fires. If you build one, use an existing fire ring and use wood no thicker than your wrist. Dispose of ashes properly. Even where fires are allowed, a lightweight stove can make it easier for you to camp without leaving a trace.

6. Respect Wildlife

Among the great pleasures of outdoor adventure is sharing your surroundings with wildlife. When you are in the backcountry, you are visiting the creatures’ homes. It is important to be a good guest.

Travel quietly and give animals enough space so that you don’t disturb them. Avoid nesting sites, feeding areas, and other places critical to wildlife. Chasing or picking up wild animals causes them stress and can affect their ability to survive.

Many Scouts learn to track and stalk wildlife to study animals, photograph them, and learn about their habits. Do so with great care and respect. You are too close if an animal changes its activities because of your presence.

Plan your trips so that you can protect your food from wildlife. This is especially important when you will share the woods with bears. Bears that find food in campsites might come back for more, and that can be dangerous for the animals and for campers. Keep your camp clean and hang your food from trees or store it in bearproof containers.

7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors

Scouts are not alone in wanting to go on outdoor adventures. You’re likely to pass a few people on a hiking trail, or perhaps dozens. You could find yourself sharing a council camp with other BSA troops. In public parks and forests, your patrol might spend the night near campers who are not Boy Scouts.

Be considerate of everyone you meet along the way. They have come to the outdoors to enjoy nature, to hike, and to camp in the open air. Some want to get away from it all—including other people. Respect their privacy.

If you can, select campsites away from those of other campers. Trees, bushes, and the shape of the terrain can screen your camp from trails and neighboring campsites. Tents with muted colors that blend into the background will reduce the visual impact of your camp.

Leave portable music players at home and hold down noise in your troop and patrol. Keeping noise to a minimum will make it easier to appreciate the outdoors, and you will be less likely to disturb wildlife and other backcountry travelers.

Sometimes it might be appropriate to go with your adult leaders to introduce yourselves to nearby campers and let them know you are Scouts who follow the principles of Leave No Trace. Ask if there is anything you can do to help make the experience good for everyone.

Meeting2Plan

PREPARATION AND MATERIALS NEEDED

  • U.S. and den flags
  • Plans for the upcoming pack campout—location, fees, gear list, food arrangements, etc.
  • Items for Gathering:
    — Large local map, taped to the wall
    — Index cards (one per Scout, each with the name of a local landmark)
    — Stickers or a highlighter for marking those sites on the map
  • GPS units, or smartphones with functioning GPS apps downloaded
  • Internet access to sites like www.geocaching.com or www.geoscouting.com. (You will introduce Scouts to those websites during the meeting, and having live access is better than simply handing out information.)
  • Thank-you notes for signing

GATHERING

Have a list of local landmarks that can be found on the large map. Write the names of these landmarks on index cards, along with an address or other identifying information. Give each Scout an index card when he arrives, so he can find the landmark on the map and mark it with the highlighter. Try not to use any of the local geocaches you have identified until later.

OPENING: OUTDOOR CODE (REQUIREMENT 7)

Five Webelos Scouts walk in with the U.S. flag.

Scout 1: As an American, I will do my best to be clean in my outdoor manners.

Narrator: I will treat the outdoors as a heritage. I will take care of it for myself and others. I will keep my trash and garbage out of lakes, streams, fields, woods, and roadways.

Scout 2: As an American, I will be careful with fire.

Narrator: I will prevent wildfire. I will build my fires only where they are appropriate. When I have finished using fire, I will make sure it is cold-out. I will leave a clean fire ring or remove all evidence of my fire.

Scout 3: As an American, I will be considerate in the outdoors.

Narrator: I will treat public and private property with respect. I will use low-impact methods of hiking and camping.

Scout 4: As an American, I will be conservation-minded.

Narrator: I will learn how to practice good conservation of soil, waters, forests, minerals, grasslands, wildlife, and energy. I will urge others to do the same.

Scout 5: Let us think about these responsibilities as we stand and sing “America the Beautiful.”

Lead the den in the song. Then remind the Scouts that as they hunt for geocaches with the den, or on their own, they should always be mindful of the Outdoor Code. Give any den members who are ready a chance to recite the code and the Leave No Trace Principles for Kids (requirement 7).

TALK TIME

  • Carry out business items for the den.
  • Allow time for sharing among Webelos Scouts.
  • Lead a discussion about the upcoming pack campout (requirements 1, 2, and 3) and all the preparations needed before the campout.

ACTIVITIES: GEOCACHING

Icon Activity 1: Using a GPS

  • Explain how a GPS works, in simple terms.
  • Describe different types of GPS receivers:
    — Automobile
    — Handheld
    — Smartphone applications

Icon Activity 2: Finding Geocaches

  • With your guidance and permission, Scouts will access websites to find local caches. Note: If you don’t have Internet access, print out the information to share with the boys.
  • Locate one or two geocaches on the map. Point out where they are in relation to the landmarks found earlier.

Icon Activity 3: Geocache Visit

  • If there is a geocache within walking distance, go there with the den. Note: If this is not possible, discuss caches the Scouts will find on their geocache outing (Meeting 4, requirement 6).
  • Sign the geocache logbook.
  • Exchange any geocaching swag you have available (e.g., small tools, U.S. flag pins, collectible coins), and put the cache back in its secure location for others to find.

CLOSING

  • Gather the den in a circle and talk about three points of the Scout Law that apply to geocaching:
    — Trustworthy: Did you actually find the cache at its indicated location? (Sometimes they can be hard to find.)
    — Helpful: Did you return the cache to its proper place for the next adventurer to find?
    — Friendly: Did you exchange swag so others may have the thrill of finding something inside?
  • Review details for the upcoming pack campout in Meeting 3. Make sure all Scouts and their families know the plans.

AFTER THE MEETING

  • Serve refreshments, if desired.
  • Work together to clean up the meeting place.
  • Have Scouts sign their thank-you notes to give out after the campout.

Meeting2Resources

ACTIVITIES: GEOCACHINGCamperGEOCACHING

THE GLOBAL POSITIONING SYSTEM

From the Geocaching merit badge pamphlet, pages 11–17

The Global Positioning System (GPS) is an electronic navigation network that uses signals from satellites orbiting Earth to determine specific locations on or near Earth’s surface. GPS technology can be used anywhere in the world 24 hours a day because the system of satellites circles Earth all the time, and some number of them are always above you. The system works in any kind of weather and does not require any setup fee or subscription charge.

How Does a GPS Receiver Work?
A GPS receiver (GPSr) calculates its position by carefully timing the signals sent by the 24 to 30 GPS satellites high above Earth. At any given time, there are usually several satellites over any given place on Earth. Each satellite continually transmits data that indicates its location and the current time. All GPS satellites transmit signals at the same instant. But the signals arrive at a GPS receiver at slightly different times. The farther the receiver is from a satellite, the longer the signal takes to reach the receiver.

The receiver uses the arrival time of each signal to measure the distance to each satellite. Once the receiver has detected signals from a minimum of four satellites, the GPSr can calculate the receiver’s location and altitude and display these coordinates on the GPSr screen. The more satellites the receiver has tracked and acquired, the better the accuracy of the GPSr calculations.

You can also enter a location into the GPS receiver, and the unit will calculate how far you are from that point as well as what direction you need to travel to reach that destination. Many GPS units have a screen that serves as an electronic map to show the user’s location or where the final destination is.

What Can Go Wrong?
If anything blocks or interferes with the satellite signals reaching the GPS receiver, or GPSr, it can give inaccurate information or just not work at all. Trees, buildings, canyons, or valleys can affect the signal strength or modify the time it takes for signals to reach the receiver, thereby degrading the ability of the GPSr to calculate the location accurately.

In addition, no civilian GPS receiver has 100 percent accuracy. A GPSr will rarely lead you to the “exact spot.” This means that you get close but not quite on target most of the time, even if the GPSr says you are within a foot of the hidden geocache that you are seeking.

A common error for beginning geocachers is to try to get the number in the GPS unit’s “distance” field to go to zero. It almost never does, and even then it’s unlikely to be correct. The accuracy is often at least a 20-foot radius, and sometimes greater, which means the geocache could be 20 feet or more from you in any direction. Quite a bit of searching for “ground zero” or the exact final spot is required in most cases. As new geocachers soon learn, it’s necessary to use your head at that point and begin searching.

A basic GPSr gives you the shortest route of travel. It does not look at topography or at rivers, roads, or other obstacles you may come across on the way. This is one reason that a map is helpful in geocaching. Maps give you the big picture of the area.

Like any electronic device, a GPS receiver will not work if it loses power. A GPSr also depends on you to input correct information. A small mistake when entering coordinates can send you a few miles—or hundreds of miles—off course.

Always remember these things about your GPS receiver:

  • The GPS compass arrow points to a direction that may not be the best route. Look where you are going and what is ahead of you to choose the best way to get there.
  • You may lose the signal from the satellites.
  • Your unit’s accuracy may be very low due to interference.
  • Your unit’s batteries can be low or die.
  • You may have input the wrong information.

Types of GPS Units CamperGPS
Among the many different types of GPS units, some cost as little as $50, or up to $10,000. Some are better for geocaching than others. Several GPS receivers are dedicated to the sport.

When you consider all of the uses you may find for a GPS receiver, you may decide you want a general navigation tool that is useful beyond geocaching and practical for other outdoor purposes. Think of all the things you may want to do with your GPS unit and buy accordingly. While an inexpensive, no-frills unit is fine for geocaching games and for public geocaching, you do want the ability to quickly download data from your computer. You may also want to create custom geocache courses.

The most important features in any GPS receiver are basic functionality and ease of use. Advanced features are tempting and helpful, but they can be expensive. A unit with a color screen and lots of maps can cost hundreds of dollars, so think about how often you will use these features.

If you are planning to buy a GPS receiver, first decide which type you need: a car navigation system or handheld outdoors device?

Automobile GPS units are useful for driving and routing by car. However, they are often not what you want for geocaching, as they tend to route you onto major roads and freeways, and they don’t have the compass and arrow capability needed to zero in on the cache.

Handheld outdoors devices are designed to be lightweight and rugged for outdoor use for hiking, camping, and geocaching. These are good for Scouting activities. Most geocaching can be done with an inexpensive, simple, handheld unit.

Before you buy, decide what functions or features are essential to you. In a car system, for example, spoken navigation instructions may be essential, but this feature is not needed for geocaching. People who run or bicycle might want a fitness and cycling GPS device that can track the wearer’s speed, distance, and calories burned. That type of GPS unit is not really useful for geocaching, however. It lacks the compass and arrow feature of a dedicated geocaching unit. For a hiker or backpacker, rugged construction, small size, light weight, and backlighting for nighttime viewing are important features.

Enthusiasts who do a lot of geocaching find that having a unit that can download detailed information such as cache type, hints, and logs from www.geocaching.com is a real plus. This allows “paperless caching” and avoids the need to print out descriptions and clues from the Geocaching.com listings.

Many smartphones have GPS and geocaching capabilities. Several geocaching applications are available for the iPhone, BlackBerry, Palm Pre, and other smartphones. While they do not have all of the features of a dedicated GPS unit and could be less accurate, they can be used for casual geocaching. Note, however, that you may have to have Internet service or a data plan for this function to work. A smartphone with GPS may be useless if you can’t connect to the data network—and a good connection is not always available. For a Scout or a troop, a dedicated GPS receiver is generally a better choice than a smartphone. A GPS is more durable and has many additional functions that are useful for Scouting activities.

Meeting3PlanPackCampout
NotesBottom

This campout (requirements 1–4) is a great opportunity to hone the skills Webelos Scouts are learning in this adventure. They should also learn to participate in running campout activities for the younger boys. The campfire program should be well-executed and the culmination of this adventure.

PREPARATION AND MATERIALS NEEDED

  • Camping gear, including the Scout Basic Essentials listed in the Webelos Handbook
  • Plan for transportation to and from camp location.
  • Confirm that a tour and activity plan has been submitted, if required. Secure signed activity consent forms.
  • Working with other dens, identify skits, songs, etc., to perform during the campout. The Webelos Scouts should assist in planning the campfire program.
  • Be prepared to set up tents and to review plans for extreme weather evacuations (requirements 2 and 3).

GATHERING (REQUIREMENT 2)

  • Once everyone has arrived at the campout site, allow Webelos Scouts to set up the tents. (See the Webelos Handbook and Meeting 3 Resources.)

OPENING

  • Say the Pledge of Allegiance and, as appropriate, the Scout Oath and Scout Law. If no flag is present, ask one Scout to display the flag on his uniform for the group.
  • Go over the planned activities.
  • Share the time that dinner preparation will begin.
  • Share the time the campfire will begin.

TALK TIME

  • Carry out business items for the den.
  • Allow time for sharing among Webelos Scouts.
  • Give any den members who are ready a chance to recite the Outdoor Code and the Leave No Trace Principles for Kids. Remind Scouts to be alert during the campout to ways they are following the code and principles (requirement 7).
  • Review plans for evacuations in case of extreme weather (e.g., severe rain or thunderstorms, tornadoes, fire, earthquakes). Discuss measures Scouts should always take to minimize danger (see Webelos Handbook).

ACTIVITIES

  • Working with the other dens, present a campfire program that includes “an impressive opening, songs, skits, a Cubmaster’s minute, and an inspirational closing ceremony” (requirement 4).
  • If the den isn’t planning a separate geocache outing (see Meeting 4 Plan), be sure to include it as an activity during the campout.
  • Other activities may include games and additional bowline knot practice.

CLOSING

  • Schedule a Cubmaster's Minute, or close with these thoughts from Lord Baden-Powell: “I think that when the sun goes down, the world is hidden by a big blanket from the light of heaven, but the stars are little holes pierced in that blanket by those who have done good deeds in this world. The stars are not all the same size: some are big, some are little, and some men have done small deeds, but they have made their hole in the blanket by doing good before they went to heaven. Try and make your hole in the blanket by good work while you are on Earth. It is something to be good, but it is far better to do good.”
  • Add: Scouts, remember to think of Lord Baden-Powell’s words as you try to do a Good Turn daily.
  • Review details for the geocache outing in Meeting 4. Make sure all Scouts and their families know the plans.

AFTER THE MEETING

  • Record completion of requirements 1, 2, 3, 4, and 7.
  • Work together to clean up the campsite.
  • Give thank-you notes to those who helped.

Meeting3Resources

CAMPFIRES

Why should we do a campfire? Campfires can be an exciting and inspirational part of the Cub Scout outdoor program. Ask any Cub Scout why he likes going to campfires. His answer will be one of the following:

Fun! It’s hard not to have fun at campfires! There is enjoyment for all concerned.

Entertainment! Our families, friends, neighbors, and guests get pleasure from attending a pack campfire.

Fellowship! We can bring a den or pack closer together—a deeper feeling than just “fun.”

Action! Cub Scout–age boys always have extra energy. Let’s use it singing songs, doing cheers, and performing skits!

Adventure! A campfire is a great place to share someone else’s adventure or start one of your own!

Training. Baden-Powell said it: “Scouting is a game … with a purpose.” Our Cub Scouts can learn new things in an informal setting.

Inspiration. Campfires will inspire everyone to leave with a greater commitment to Scouting’s ideals.

Many packs use indoor campfires as part of their regular programs. Let’s make it even better by taking our Cub Scouts out for a real campfire, if possible. Don’t let them miss this great experience.

Campfire Leadership

Most leaders will take a lot of time physically building a campfire. The location and construction are important, but above all, it’s the program that counts. Campfires can be big, little, formal, informal, and can feature storytelling, dramatics, mystery, guest night, stunts, or a songfest.

CamperCampfireLeadership

CamperPROGRAMCHECKLIST

CUB SCOUT SIX ESSENTIALS

The following items should be available for each Cub Scout on an outdoor trip. Consider a small fanny or day pack or similar bag to organize the items and make them easy to carry without interfering with normal activities.

  • First-aid kit
  • Flashlight
  • Sun protection
  • Trail food
  • Filled bottle
  • Whistle

Overnighter Gear

  • Tent or tarp, poles, and stakes
  • Ground cloth
  • Sleeping bag
  • Pillow
  • Air mattress or pad
  • Rain gear or poncho
  • Warm jacket
  • Sweatshirt
  • Sweatpants (for sleeping)
  • Cup, bowl, knife, fork, spoon, mesh bag
  • Insect repellent
  • Sunscreen
  • Extra clothing
  • Toothpaste, toothbrush, soap, washcloth, towel, comb
  • Cub Scout uniform
  • Change of clothes
  • Durable shoes/boots (depending on weather)
  • Hat or cap

Optional Items

  • Camera
  • Notebook and pencil
  • Binoculars
  • Nature books
  • Sunglasses
  • Swimsuit, bath towel
  • Fishing gear
  • Prayer book

CAMPSITE CONSIDERATIONS

Cub Scout camping will be taking place in sites approved by the local council (council camps, local parks, campgrounds), so choices may be limited on arrival. There are still several considerations to keep in mind when laying out your campsite for a pack event.

Location. A campsite facing the south or southeast will get more sunlight and generally will be drier than one on the north side of a hill or in the shade of mountains or cliffs. Cold, damp air tends to settle, causing the bottoms of valleys to be cooler and more moist than locations a little higher. On the other hand, hilltops and sharp ridges can be very windy, and should be avoided in lightning-prone areas.

Size and shape. A good campsite has plenty of space for your tents and enough room to conduct your activities. It should be useable as it is, so you won’t need to do any digging or major rock removal to reshape the area. The less rearranging you do, the easier it will be to leave the site exactly as you found it. (Leave No Trace-frontcountry guidelines)

Protection. Consider the direction of the wind and the direction from which a storm will approach. Is your campsite in the open or is it protected by a hill or a stand of trees? Is there a solitary tree nearby that may attract lightning? Don’t camp under dead trees or trees with dead branches that may come down in a storm or light wind. The best campsites are found near small, forested ridges and hills.

Insects and animals. Insects and other animals all have their favorite habitats. The best way to avoid mosquitoes and biting flies is to camp away from marshes, bogs, and pools of stagnant water. Breezes also discourage insects, so you might look for an elevated, open campsite. Don’t forget to check around for beehives, hornet nests, and ant mounds. Their inhabitants usually won’t bother you as long as you leave them alone, but give them plenty of room. The same goes for most animals.

Ground cover. Any vegetation covering a campsite will receive a lot of wear and tear. Tents will smother it, sleepers will pack it down, and walkers will bruise it with the soles of their shoes. Some ground cover is tough enough to absorb the abuse, but much of it is not. Whenever you can, make your camp on naturally bare earth, gravelly soil, sand, or on ground covered with pine needles or leaves.

Drainage. While you’ll want a campsite that is relatively flat, it should slope enough to allow rainwater to run off. On the other hand, you don’t want to be in the path of natural drainage. Check uphill from where you’re planning to set up your tent to make sure water won’t run through your site. Never camp in a stream bed! Also you want to avoid depressions in the ground, as even shallow ones can collect water in a storm.

Privacy. One of the pleasures of camping is being away from crowds and the fast pace of the city life. Select campsites that are out of sight and sound of trails and other campsites. That way you’ll have your privacy while you respect the privacy and peace and quiet of other campers.

Beauty. The beauty of a campsite often is what first attracts visitors to it. Being able to look out from a tent and see towering mountains, glistening lakes, or miles of canyon land or rolling prairie is part of what camping is all about. Find a campsite that gives you spectacular scenery, but use it only if it is appropriate for every other reason, too. Remember to always leave your campsite better than you found it.

Tread Lightly. You can do a lot to protect the wilderness. Try to leave no trace of your visit. Leave no marks along the trail, keep your campsite clean and tidy, and leave it cleaner than you found it. You will preserve a true wilderness character for you and others to enjoy in the future. Be gentle on Mother

Nature. Don’t harm plants or animals, including insects. Take nothing but pictures; leave nothing but footprints; and kill nothing but time. This philosophy is as appropriate in a county park as it is anywhere else.

CamperPackCamping

Meeting4Geocache

PREPARATION AND MATERIALS NEEDED

  • GPS information (see Meeting 2 Resources)
  • Inexpensive items (small tools, U.S. flag pins, collectible coins, etc.) that Scouts can exchange as swag for what they find in the cache
  • All food and items needed for lunch. Be sure to bring a trash bag so you can pack out any garbage.
  • Thank-you notes for signing
  • Plan for transportation to and from the location.
  • Confirm that a tour and activity plan has been submitted, if required, and that transportation to and from the event is in place. Secure signed activity consent forms.
  • Unit den leader should have in possession (if required by local council practices) the tour and activity plan and a copy of the Guide to Safe Scouting.
  • If possible, enlist the help of an adult expert with GPS and geocaching experience, and especially geocaching experience. Ask the local council for recommendations or to help you contact a Geocaching merit badge counselor
  • If necessary, borrow GPS units from the same contacts, or plot out the coordinates ahead of time so you will know where to find the caches. Another option: GPS apps are available for smartphones.

GATHERING

  • While waiting for everyone to arrive, Scouts may practice operating the GPS, entering information, and comparing GPS directions to maps of the area.

ACTIVITIES: GEOCACHING (REQUIREMENT 6)

  • If possible with the geocaches available to you, work to provide each Webelos Scout with the opportunity to take the lead in finding a geocache. If you go to multiple locations, trading off between buddies will be a good idea.
  • Once a geocache is replaced it can be found again. (This is a good teaching point for the Leave No Trace principles.)
  • Make sure the logbook is signed at each geocache location. Scouts should also record the visit in their handbooks.
  • Stop at some point for lunch or at least a trail snack (see Webelos Walkabout adventure).

AFTER THE MEETING

  • Record completion of requirement 6.
  • Scouts will sign and give their thank-you notes to anyone who helped with the outing.

CamperToonUpon completion of the Camper adventure, your Webelos Scouts will have earned the adventure pin shown here. Make sure they are recognized for their completion by presenting the adventure pins, to be worn on their uniforms, as soon as possible according to your pack’s tradition.

Return to Top