with Rainy Days
by David Goss, The Leader Magazine, May 1978
Few of us like to think that rain will spoil our troop or pack camping plans. However, if the weather I've experienced during camping programs is any indication of what's normal, I would have to conclude that a plan for rainy day activities should be included on every camp's program--somewhere near the top!
Unfortunately, most Scouters seem to feel it's a bad omen to plan for rain and wait until it's coming down in buckets before they try to find an alternate program to keep boys amused when confined to tents or dining shelters.
Perhaps the ideas that follow will help you at camp. If you don't use them at this summer's camp, don't be tempted to integrate them into your normal program, because the value in any good rainy day activity, which must be carried out in the confined space of a tent, lies in it being a new idea, or a new twist on an old idea.
My suggestion would be to gather together the materials you need to carry out the ideas you think will work with your boys, and place them in a cardboard box, wrap the box in plastic, and label it "Rainy Day Box". Take this to camp with your other provisions. Then, when you're faced with a real rainy day at camp, break open the box and begin with the ideas listed below, in whatever order seems appropriate.
Before I begin the suggestions, please don't misinterpret my intentions in respect to confining boys to their tents on a rainy day. To me, this is always a last resort, and only after all the possible outdoor activities in raincoats and boots are exhausted or when the boys are too wet or the rain too severe or too cold. As much as possible, the normal camp routine should continue, but when it can't, try some of these games.
Have cards containing the faces
of a number of famous people for each patrol. Give the patrol a sheet of
paper with numbers for each person on the sheets. Members of the patrol
identify the people on their card, and then pass the cards to the next patrol.
Later, pass the answers around.
When the boys have finished
identifying the people, have them alter each face by drawing in mustaches,
beards, freckles, bumps, lumps, stitches, etc. Cross out the numbers with
black pen and pass the cards again to see how many of the boys can still
identify the famous folks.
One Scout is blindfolded and
is asked to perform some ordinary task; such things as sewing a button on
a piece of cloth, lacing a shoe, tying a clove hitch, writing all the patrol
members names on a sheet of paper, drawing the patrol tent, sorting a collection
of nails and screws into piles, by size, etc. Fests
Have each patrol member,
in turn, laugh until he can laugh no longer, or whistle, sing, smile,
frown, talk, or (and perhaps this shouldn't even be suggested as it may
be in the realm of the impossible) keep quiet as long as he possibly can.
The winners in each patrol will play off at the campfire that evening.
A short game. One patrol member
is chosen to be "the artist". All the others assume a comfortable posing
position and sit perfectly still while the artist moves about studying them
for the painting he is going to create. Should the artist note the slightest
movement on the part of his subject, he taps him on the forehead and eliminates
him from the game.
The patrol make a list of all
the famous couples they can think of. For instance--Adam and Eve, Donnie
and Marie, Romeo and Juliette, and on and on. The patrol with the longest
list is the winner. It may be useful to limit the field for the older boys
to specific categories, such as married couples, historical couples or biblical
A rainy day is a good time
to practice the troop code. You don't have one? Well, one of the simplest
is the S.A.C., or Sliding Alphabet Code, where "a" becomes the first letter
of the day of the week. For example, pretend this is Thursday:
T U V W X Y Z A B C D E
F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S
A B C D E F G H I J K L
M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Thus the sentence--"Scouting
is fun" is written "L V H N M B G Z B L Y N G" However, to make it a bit
more interesting, everything is grouped in five's, and the above message
really appears as--L V H N M B G Z B L Y N G 6 5. The 6 and 5 are simply
fill-ins to make the last group come out to an even five characters. And
if a letter is repeated, you simply use the number 2. For example, the
word "Booth" would be "U H 2 A 0".
This code is easily written,
easily deciphered, yet adds so much to wide games, treasure hunts, or
just troop room activities. A wet day at camp is an ideal time to teach
and practice it.
Patrol "A" makes up a hypothetical
predicament, writes it on a card and sends it to Patrol "B". Meanwhile "B"
has done the same. For instance, basing the predicaments on home or camp
emergencies, the following might be asked:
Your Scouter has developed
sudden chest pains. They are very sharp, and have come after a big meal.
What should you do?
Your little brother has
just swallowed two dozen of your mother's iron pills. Is this dangerous?
What would you do?
The farmer whose land we're
camped on has given us permission to go to the well near the barn to get
One night you smell smoke
and, as you enter the barn, you see that a fire has started. How would
you get the horses out?
Of course the boys will
dream up all sorts of better ones than these. The only condition you should
place on the predicaments is that those dreaming them up must know the
Provide a sheet of newsprint,
lots of black markers, rulers, glue, etc., and ask your lads to produce
a camp newspaper, with many newsy items. The paper should include at least
one interview with someone outside their tent, one cartoon, a crossword
puzzle, an imagined interview with B.-P., or one of their favorite heroes,
etc. If you provide a piece of lined paper for each boy, with a suggested
topic, and the paper is ruled into three newspaper-like columns, you'll
get a neater job and one in which all will participate. Simply glue the
smaller pieces of paper to the large sheet of newsprint for your complete
paper, and add weather reports, daily words of wisdom, jokes and other fillers,
as needed. These make great souvenirs for a leader to keep.
Challenge your patrols to produce
an accurate description of the troop Scouter which would enable the local
police to find him, if he were missing. At the same time the other patrols
are doing one of the group committee chairman, the group chaplain, or other
persons all the boys know well. Then, have these passed to the other patrols
who, when they read the descriptions, try to identify the individuals being
Provide the boys with tea biscuit
mix, jam, milk, plastic containers for mixing, a can of Sterno and some
foil. Challenge them to rig up an oven, mix up the tea biscuits, place a
dot of jam in the center, wrap it in foil, and bake it in their makeshift
oven over the Sterno. Leave the details to the boys as to how they rig up
an oven. What they are baking is called jam fritters, and they are so good
every boy will want one or two, so be prepared.
A rainy afternoon might be
a good chance to get the boys busy designing a camp crest. This will not
take everyone's interest, so you might run it in conjunction with some of
the other suggestions.
There are many books on the
market with these diversions. Find a good one and buy a number of copies
so that each group can work on the same puzzle. Toss one into each tent,
along with a pencil, to see which patrol can finish the same puzzle first.
Wouldn't it be great if some
troop invented a really new skit? Why not challenge your lads to do this?
Have the boys write new words
to an old, well known tune. The theme should be suggested to them, perhaps
a song about camp life, or about their city, town or province. Of course,
it goes without saying that the boys will be expected to present their song
at the first opportunity, preferably the next troop campfire.
Provide the boys with a thimble,
a 50c piece, a box of wooden matches, a tea bag, a bit of powdered milk
and a bit of sugar. Challenge them to fill the thimble with water, to light
a fire on the 50c piece (which has been wrapped in tinfoil to avoid damage
to the coin), burning only the box of matches. The object is to boil the
water, add a few grains of tea, a bit of milk and sugar and call the Scouter
when the tea is ready to serve, to act as official "taster".
Give each tent a box of alphabet
macaroni, some white glue and one or two popsicle sticks per boy. Have them
do the following--(The popsicle sticks are dipped in glue and the glue is
placed on the back of each letter to fasten it.) Write a message to another
patrol using a firm sheet of cardboard on which to glue the letters. A short
message is best, about 20 words. When the message is passed to the other
patrol, they are blindfolded and try to decipher the message by touching
the letters with the ends of their fingers only (like reading Braille.)
Other ideas you can try
include making mementos of camp, with the camp and boy's name glued onto
dry sticks, fungus, sawed circles from pine limbs, or heavy cardboard.
Some boys might even undertake to write favorite poems, or make up a poem.
Other ideas include making up motto cards, like "It ain't no use to grumble
and complain, if the Lord sorts out the weather and sends rain, we want
rain". The individual macaroni can easily be colored with felt pens and
a picture in the background will complete a craft that will be a nice
memento of your rainy day in camp.
And that's what these ideas
have been all about. A rainy day in camp need not be the highlight of
your program, but there's no need for it to be a disaster either.