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ZoomOut and see more wildlife with your binoculars as you explore nature and discover signs of wildlife in your backyard, along the trail, or in your community. Use one of the HomeScouting Scavenger Hunts to identify 10 signs of wildlife!

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If you're not registered for Spring BreakOut, make sure to do that first!

Each week there are three components to completing the weekly challenge - Know, Show, and Go. To complete this week's challenge, do the following: 

  • KNOW: Explore the content below to learn about wildlife you might encounter while outdoors, how to prepare for your adventure, and what to take with you. 

  • SHOW: Plan your adventure! Gather your gear, determine where you are going, who's going with you, and when you're going. Discuss your plan with your family, den, patrol, or unit.  

  • GO: Go on your adventure! Be sure to grab your specific tracking worksheet before you go to record what you complete. 

As soon as you're ready, scroll down to get started. 

Connected Challenges 

Continue this week's challenge by completing additional activities. These activities are optional and just for fun but are connected to this week's theme. 

Connected

Adventures

 

After completing this week's challenge, head back to The Trail and click on your level of Scouting's Waypoint to unlock connected Scouting adventures and advance along the way.

Connected Advancements

 

You're earning more than just the Spring BreakOut award this week! Click here to grab this week's tracking worksheet and see this week's list of connected advancements

Connected

Trainings

 

Calling all adult leaders and parents! Not only can you earn the Spring BreakOut Award with your Scout, you can find connected trainings for you to complete along the way. 

BEFORE YOU GO OUT

Before you head out on your hike, make sure you have a plan!

 

The five W’s of a trip plan:

  1. Where are you going? Decide on a route to your destination and
    back. For backcountry trips, include a copy of a map with your route
    marked in pencil.

  2. When will you return? If you are not back reasonably close to the
    time on your trip plan, Scout leaders and family members can take steps
    to locate you and, if necessary, provide assistance.

  3. Who is hiking with you? List the names of your partners. If you need
    a ride to or from a trail, write down who will do the driving.

  4. Why are you going? To fish in a lake? Climb a peak? Explore a new
    area? Write a sentence or two about the purpose of your journey.

  5. What are you taking? Always carry the Outdoor Essentials. If you are
    camping out, you may need additional food, gear, and shelter.

LEAVE NO TRACE HIKING

Caring for the environment is an important responsibility of every hiker. The principles of Leave No Trace can help you live up to that responsibility and enjoy the outdoors fully by knowing that you are respecting the environment.

 

Leave No Trace Principles: As you and your group plan a hike, ask yourselves how you can follow each of the principles of Leave No Trace.

  • Plan Ahead and Prepare. When planning your hike, contact the land managers of the area you intend to visit or the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics (see the resources section for contact information). Explain your desired route and ask how you can best implement Leave No Trace. Here are some additional guidelines to remember.

    • Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you will visit. 

    • Prepare for extreme weather, hazards, and emergencies.

    • Schedule your trip to avoid times of high use.

    • Visit the backcountry in small groups no larger than parties of four to six hikers.
       

  • Travel on Durable Surfaces. Stay on existing pathways to help protect the surrounding landscape from being trampled, eroded, and compacted.

    • In popular areas, hike on durable surfaces such as established trails, rock, gravel, dry grasses, and snow.

    • Protect shoreline vegetation.

    • Walk single file in the middle of the trail, even if it is wet or muddy.

    • Conduct activities in areas where vegetation is absent.
       

  • Dispose of Waste Properly. Remember this solid guideline: Pack it in, pack it out. Make it easier on yourself by limiting the amount of potential trash you take. Especially important is the disposal of human waste. Use toilet facilities whenever possible. Otherwise, urinate away from trails, camps, and other gathering places. Choose rocks or bare ground; animals may strip vegetation in order to consume the salts left by concentrations of urine. Pack out solid waste, or use a cathole. Check with the land agency for the area you will visit to find out the preferred method. To dig a cathole, choose a remote spot at least 200 feet from camps, trails, water, and dry gullies. With a trowel, dig a hole 6 to 8 inches deep in the topsoil. Take care of business, re-cover the hole, and disguise the site with leaves or other ground cover. Organic material in the topsoil will slowly break down the waste, making it harmless.
     

  • Leave What You Find. A cluster of flowers beside an alpine trail. Bricks from a historic homestead. A bird’s nest on a low bush. Every hike will bring with it a new discovery to see and enjoy. Here are some reasons why you should leave what you find.

    • Future hikers will have the excitement of discovering for themselves what you have found.

    • Plant and wildlife environments will not be harmed. Leave rocks and other natural objects as you find them. Avoid introducing or transporting nonnative species.

    • Archaeological, cultural, and historic structures and artifacts preserve a record of America’s past; some are sacred to American Indians and other Native Americans. Observe, but do not touch or take.
       

  • Minimize Campfire Impacts. Most hikers are prepared to spend a day outdoors without needing a campfire. If you do expect to cook or get warm, plan ahead with options that do not depend on kindling a blaze. In any case, it is wise to know when a campfire can be lit and when a fire could scar the land. In many areas, fires are discouraged, prohibited, or allowed by permit only. If you must make a campfire:

    • Use established fire rings, fire pans, or mound fires.

    • Keep fires small. Use only sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand.

    • Burn all wood and coals to ash, make sure the ashes are cold out, then scatter the cool ashes.
       

  • Respect Wildlife. Sharing the outdoors with wildlife is one of the great pleasures of hiking. Respect wildlife by always traveling quietly and observing animals from afar. You are too close if your actions cause an animal to change its activities. Always avoid wildlife when they are mating, nesting, raising young, and during other sensitive times.

    • Never feed wild animals. Doing so damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers. Store all your food and trash securely.​
       

  • Be Considerate of Other Visitors. Extending courtesy to other outdoor visitors is a natural habit of hikers. Speak softly and respect their desire for quiet and solitude. Leave radios and electronic devices at home. If you carry a mobile telephone for emergency communication, turn it off and stow it in your pack until you need it. Appreciate the company of those you meet on the trail and at campsites near yours. Observe proper trail etiquette. If you encounter horseback riders or pack animals, stop and ask the lead rider what you should do. The lead rider will probably ask you to step a few paces downhill from the trail and stand quietly while the animals pass. If you encounter other hikers or backpackers going uphill when you are going downhill, give them the right-of-way. Step aside on a rock or a log to minimize your impact, and watch your footing when you step below the trail.

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THE 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.

GEAR UP FOR THE OUTDOORS

Clothing is your first line of defense against the elements. It keeps you warm in the winter, cool in the summer, dry in storms, and sheltered from insects, sun, and wind. To help decide what you need, learn about the materials from which clothing is made.

 

Wool. For generations of backcountry travelers, wool was the fabric of choice. Of course, that’s about all there was for making warm clothing. Wool is still terrific for many coldweather adventures. It is durable and water-resistant, and can help you keep warm even when the fabric is wet. A wool shirt or sweater can ward off the chill of summer evenings, too. Wool is also an excellent choice in hiking socks, hats, and mittens. (If wool irritates your skin, you may be able to wear wool blends or wear woolen layers over clothing made of other fabrics.)

 

Cotton. Cotton clothing is cool and comfortable. That makes it very good for hot-weather shirts and shorts, especially in dry climates. If cotton becomes wet, though, it loses its ability to insulate, and it may be slow to dry. That can be a real danger on cool days, especially when mist, rain, and wind bring with them the threat of hypothermia.

Synthetics. Outdoor clothing made of nylon, polypropylene, and other manufactured fabrics can be sturdy and comfortable and can maintain warmth even when wet. Look for synthetics in underwear, shirts, sweaters, jackets, pants, mittens, and hats. Lightweight nylon shorts and shirts are ideal for hot weather, drying quickly when wet. Waterproof and breathable synthetic fabrics are used in parkas and rain gear and as the shells of mittens and gloves. Choose layers of clothing that, when combined, will meet the most extreme weather you expect to encounter. On a chilly autumn day, for example, you might set out from the trailhead wearing long pants, a wool shirt, a fleece sweater, mittens, and a stocking hat. As you hike, the effort will cause your body to generate heat. Peel off the sweater and stuff it in your pack. If you are still too warm, loosen a few buttons on your shirt or slip off your mittens and hat. When you are no longer exerting yourself, stay warm by reversing the procedure, pulling on enough layers of clothing to stay comfortable. After the sun goes down, you may want to add an insulated parka and fleece pants or long underwear

No matter what type of outdoor activity you are doing, making sure you are prepared by wearing layers so that you can adjust your clothing to meet changing weather conditions.

Basic Warm-Weather Clothing Checklist

  • T-shirt or lightweight short-sleeved shirt

  • Hiking shorts

  • Underwear

  • Socks

  • Long-sleeved shirt (lightweight)

  • Long pants (lightweight)

  • Sweater or warm jacket

  • Brimmed hat

  • Bandannas

  • Rain gear

  • Appropriate hiking footwear

Basic Cold-Weather Clothing Checklist

  • Long-sleeved shirt

  • Long pants (fleece, wool, or synthetic blend)

  • Sweater (fleece or wool)

  • Long underwear (polypropylene)

  • Socks (wool or synthetic blend)

  • Warm hooded parka or jacket

  • Stocking hat (fleece or wool)

  • Mittens or gloves (fleece or wool) with water-resistant shells

  • Wool scarf

  • Rain gear

  • Appropriate cold/wet weather footwear

OUTDOOR ESSENTIALS

Take the Cub Scout Six Essentials or Scouts BSA Outdoor Essentials with you on every outdoor adventure. The items on the list may help you avoid emergencies, and they can make a pleasant hike even better. At least one person in each hiking group should carry a watch so that you can pace your travels, stick to your trip plan, and return home when you are expected.

 

Pack. A fanny pack or day pack will hold everything you need during a hike. If you use a small pack to carry

your books to school, it will probably be fine to use for hiking, too.

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six essentials 

  • First Aid Kit

  • Flashlight
  • Filled Water Bottle
  • Trail Food
  • Sun protection
  • Whistle
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 scouts bsa outdoor essentials

  • Pocketknife

  • First-aid kit

  • Extra clothing

  • Rain gear

  • Water bottle

  • Trail food

  • Matches and fire starters

  • Sun protection

  • Map and compass

  • Flashlight

Adding some or all of the following items to your emergency kit can come in handy if things went wrong on a hike.

  • Duct Tape. Wrap a length of it around a plastic water bottle and you will always have some handy.

  • Whistle. A whistle can be heard for longer distances than shouting can and requires less energy.

  • Signal Mirror. A metal signal mirror can be slipped into your first-aid kit or a side pocket of your pack. Keep it in its case or slip it inside a spare sock to protect it from becoming scratched and dull.

  • Thin Wire. A few feet of thin wire can come in handy for repairing camping gear.

  • Garbage Bag. A heavy-duty 30- to 39-gallon plastic bag, preferably in a bright color, can be used for emergency rain gear, to protect tinder and kindling from the rain, and to shield your sleeping bag and other equipment.

  • Fishing Line and Hooks. Fifty feet of nylon fishing line can have many uses for making repairs. Add a few hooks and you will have the gear you need to try fishing in lakes and streams.

FOOD AND WATER

Keep your body well-fueled by having a nutritious breakfast before any outdoor activity, and then carrying food that will provide the calories you need throughout. Granola is the good choice. So is GORPgood old raisins and peanuts. Apples, oranges, carrots, and bananas are fine snacks, too. A solid lunch will see you through the middle of the day. Sandwiches, fruit, carrots, nuts, and raisins are all tasty. Instead of sandwiches, you might try crackers with cheese or peanut butter. Water is even more important than food though. Fill at least one water bottle before you start out, and sip from it often. In hot weather, you may need to carry several water containers. Treat any water taken from streams, lakes, or springs before you drink it.

POCKETKNIVES

A pocketknife is a useful tool to have with you, but it can also be dangerous if you don't know how to use it the right way. Learn about three different types of pocketknives and some basic pocketknife safety. REMEMBER: only Bears, Webelos, Scouts, Venturers, and adults are permitted to use pocketknives after a Whittling Chip is earned. 

 

The jack knife is only hinged on one end, but it may have more than one blade. Outdoorsmen
such as hunters, campers and fishermen tend to like these knifes.

 

The pen knife has hinges and blades on both ends of the knife. Often, they
will have two or three blades at each end. They are also smaller than the other
two types.

 

The multi-purpose knife is popular because there are so many different things they can
have on them.  Obviously, they'll have a knife blade, but they can also have a file, scissors,
tweezers, can or bottle openers and even a mini-saw blade. 

KNIFE SAFETY RULES TO LEARN AND LIVE BY

  • A knife is a tool, not a toy.

  • Know how to sharpen a knife. A sharp knife is safer than a dull knife because it is less likely to slip and cut you.

  • Keep the blade clean and dry.

  • Never carry an open pocketknife.

  • When you are not using your knife, close it using the palm of your hand and put it away.

  • When you are using the cutting blade, do not try to make big shavings or chips. Cut slowly and steadily.

  • Make a safety circle. Before you pick up your knife to use it, stretch your arm out and turn in a circle. If you cannot touch anyone or anything else, it is safe to use your knife. While using your knife, be sure to watch in case someone walks toward you and gets too close. If that happens, put your knife away until it is safe to continue.

  • Always cut away from you, never toward you.

  • Never hand a knife to someone else blade first. Learn and use the “eye contact” method of handing a knife to someone else. Do not release the knife until the other person makes eye contact with you and acknowledges he has the knife.

  • Never use a knife on something that will dull or break it.

  • Never throw a knife for any reason.

  • Always think before you cut. Do not use your knife to strip bark from a tree or to carve your initials into something that does not belong to you.

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While on your outdoor adventure, use one of our HomeScouting Scavenger Hunts to see what you can find in the wild! Click on one of the Scavenger Hunt's below to download!

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WHILE YOU'RE OUT - BE PREPARED

BEING PREPARED AS A GROUP

Many people keep things to themselves. They don’t want to hold up the team or are
worried about what others will think of them. An important step in avoiding backcountry

emergencies is letting your companions know when you are having a hard time or if you

are aware of something that might affect you or the group. Remember, stopping for a few

moments to deal with a hot spot on a heel can avoid bringing the group to a long halt later

in the day when blisters break out. Saying something about changing weather or asking

questions about the route that group leaders have chosen can bring important matters to the attention of the rest of your group and help everyone make good decisions.

Buddy System

"Two heads are better than one." You may have heard that saying before and it is true. Sometimes you may forget a safety rule, or not be aware of a hazard up ahead, but if you are with a buddy, it is easier to stay safe. The buddy system is a great way for Scouts to look after each other. especially on outdoor adventures. When you go hiking, swimming, or camping, you should be assigned a buddy. You keep track of what your buddy is doing, and your buddy knows at all times where you are and how you are doing. The buddy system is a way of sharing the good times and keeping everyone safe. If you and your buddy find yourself away from the rest of the group, make sure to follow the S-T-O-P rules below. 

BEING PREPARED YOURSELF

Most important is how you think about things when you are confronted with a survival situation. Learn the right things to do at the right time, then practice these techniques until you know them by heart, and you will build your confidence in dealing with wilderness emergencies.

 

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S-T-O-P

The moment you think you might be lost, stop immediately. If you ever feel fear, stop immediately. Put your hands in your pockets and take a deep breath. Look around and really see what is happening. If there are immediate dangers to avoid—a potential avalanche, a capsized boat, an approaching bear—do what you must to keep yourself and others safe. You might need to put on your rain gear or step around a tree to get out of the wind. You might also need to provide first aid for life-threatening injuries or illnesses. Once that is done, you can begin to figure out what to do next.

 

The letters of the word STOP hold a special meaning for
staying positive and beginning to take charge of a situation.

  • Stop / Stay Calm

  • Think

  • Observe

  • Plan 

 

Stop/Stay Calm. At the beginning of a wilderness survival emergency, the most important thing you can do is stop. Once you have taken care of your immediate safety and that of others in your group, then relax as best you can. Drink some water. Eat a snack. You have time. You have resources. You have a good mind. Now is the time to start using it. 

 

Think. Assemble the group. Use your brain to figure out what is really going on. If you think you are lost, study your map and try to determine where you are. Look around for landmarks. Note the contours of hills, ridges, or mountains, and where you are in relation to streams or lakes. If you don’t have a map, try to remember where you could have gotten off course. What was the last landmark you positively identified? In what direction did you travel from there? If you are on a trail or a road, can you follow it back to your starting point? If you have left footprints in snow, can you retrace your tracks? Don’t go anywhere yet. There is no rush. 

Observe. Assess the immediate situation. Does anyone need additional first aid? What are the weather conditions? Where is a good place to take shelter? Inventory everything you have in your pack and pockets, and look around to get a sense of the natural resources nearby. What clothing do you have? How can you improvise with what is available to make it suit your needs? Don’t go anywhere yet. There is no rush. 

 

Plan. When you have figured out what your situation really is, the group can put together a plan for what to do next. Build your plan on what you have observed, what you have in the way of equipment, what you can improvise from native materials, and how you can keep yourself safe. Put into practice the survival steps you have learned, and wait as calmly as you can for help to arrive. Plan carefully and cautiously; don’t make your situation worse by acting hastily. If you left a written trip plan with a responsible person before leaving home, your failure to return on time should trigger a search effort. Most people are found within 24 hours of becoming lost or encountering difficulties in the backcountry. You could, if you had to, survive much longer.

LION ALTERNATIVE - SAW

S = Stay Put

A = Answer (if you hear your name)

W = Blow your Whistle

SAFETY TIPS AROUND ANIMALS

SAFETY AROUND DOGS

It is not unusual to come upon dogs as you walk through cities, towns, and near
farms. You may meet them on trails, too. Since you are a stranger to them, they
might snarl and bark at you. Avoid eye contact; talk to the dogs you encounter
in a calm, quiet voice and give them plenty of room as you pass. Do not
threaten them, but if you have a hiking stick or trekking poles, keep them
between you and the animals. Cross to the far side of the road or trail if you
can, or avoid a dog’s territory by taking another route.

SAFETY AROUND WILD ANIMALS

Seeing deer, raccoons, skunks, squirrels, and other animals that make their homes in the outdoors is a special part of any hike. If wild animals must alter their normal habits, you are too close. They are not likely to become aggressive unless they feel threatened. Enjoy watching wild animals, but keep your distance. Do not disturb nests or burrows.

Be aware of the kinds of predatory animals you might meet during your adventures. Wolves, coyotes, and cougars (mountain lions, panthers, pumas) are curious. If you meet such an animal, do not approach the animal, run, or play dead. Face the creature and slowly retreat. Make yourself “big”—wave your arms and clothing above your head. Be noisy; throw rocks and sticks. If you encounter a bear, do not run or shout. Stay calm, back away, and avoid eye contact with the animal.

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VENOMOUS REPTILES

Snakes and other reptiles will usually get out of your way when they see you coming. But if you stumble over one, it may bite. Fortunately, most snakes and other reptiles don’t have poison in their bites. Here are the few that do.

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Gila monster: Found in parts of Nevada and Utah and down into Mexico

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Eastern diamondback rattlesnake: Found along the Atlantic coast from North Carolina to Florida and west to Louisiana

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Western diamondback rattlesnake:

Found in the southwestern United States, from Missouriand east Texas to southern California

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Prairie rattlesnake: Found in the western half of the United States

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Sidewinder or horned rattlesnake: Found in the deserts of the Southwest

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Coral snake: Found in some Southeastern states and in southern New Mexico and Arizona

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Copperhead: Found in most Southern states, but also as far north as Massachusetts and as far
west as Illinois and Texas

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Water moccasin (cottonmouth): Found in or near water from southeastern Virginia to Florida to east Texas and up through Arkansas and parts of nearby states

DANGEROUS INSECTS

Snakes and other reptiles will usually get out of your way when they see you coming. But if you stumble over one, it may bite. Fortunately, most snakes and other reptiles don’t have poison in their bites. Here are the few that do.

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Bees, hornets and wasps: Most flying insects are just annoying, like mosquitos. A few of them can be dangerous for people with bad allergies. If someone gets stung by a bee, hornet, or wasp and has trouble breathing, it’s important to seek medical help right away. People who know they are allergic to insect stings usually carry special medicine called epinephrine with them all the time. If you carry this medicine with you, be sure your leader knows about it!

Ticks: Ticks are hard-shelled insects that like to bury their heads in your skin. (Yuck!) You should check yourself for ticks when you’ve been in the woods. If you find one, have an adult gently pull it out with tweezers. Wash the area with soap and water and put antiseptic medicine on it.

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Chiggers: Chiggers are too small to see, but they can cause big itches when they burrow into your skin. Don’t scratch chigger bites; cover them with calamine lotion or special chigger medicine, such as 1 percent hydrocortisone ointment.

Spiders: Some spiders, especially the black widow and brown recluse, can make you sick if they bite you. Symptoms can include redness and pain at the bite site and also fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, joint or muscle pain, and cramps. Anyone who has been bitten by a spider should see a doctor as soon as possible.

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POISONOUS PLANTS

Most plants are beautiful and harmless, and most animals are more afraid of you than you are of them. However, you should be aware of the poisonous plans and dangerous animals that you might see on the trail - even in a city park or neighborhood. 

Here are the most common poisonous plants. If you touch them, your skin may get red and itchy. You can prevent a reaction by washing with soap and water as soon as possible. 

 

Poison Ivy.

Poison ivy grows throughout most of the continental United States as either a shrub or a vine. Look for leaves with three leaflets and maybe white berries.  

Poison Oak.

Poison oak grows as a low shrub in the eastern U.S. and as clumps or vines on the Pacific coast. Look for clusters of three leaves and possibly yellow-white berries. 

 

Poison Sumac.

Poison sumac grows as a tall shrub or a small tree in wet areas in the northeastern, midwestern, and southeastern United States. Look for leaves with seven or more leaflets and possibly yellow-white berries. 

To avoid poison ivy and poison oak, remember this rhyme: "Leaves of three, let it be; berries white, poisonous sight"

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LOCATE WHERE YOU LIVE

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A map is a drawing or sketch of an area or country. Explorers have used maps since ancient times to travel from one place to another. We use maps every day. You may have used a map to locate a trail you hiked with your family. Now it’s time to get to know your town better and the area where you live! You can find a map of your city or town at a public library, the local convention and visitor’s bureau, or the chamber of commerce. You can also print out a map of your area from the Internet.

Some online map programs might also allow you to see a satellite image of your street and zoom in on a picture of your home. You can find the location of your home by typing in your street address with your parent or guardian’s help. Your home will not be pictured on a regular city or town map, though.

HOW TO FIND YOUR HOUSE ON GOOGLE EARTH:

  1. Go to https://earth.google.com/web/

  2. Type in your address in the Search bar

  3. Locate your house!

Then, draw a map for a friend so he or she can locate your home, a park, a school, or other locations in your neighborhood. Use symbols to show parks, buildings, trees, and water. You can invent your own symbols. Be sure to include a key so your symbols can be identified. Maps have lines, symbols, and colors. A key, or legend, tells you what those symbols and colors mean.

 

Using the key, locate different symbols on the map. What symbols did you find? Now make a map of your neighborhood. Include your home, your school, or other locations you choose. Make up your own symbols to show parks, buildings, and bodies of water nearby. Be sure to mark the streets and landmarks on your map so a friend could easily find the location you selected.

DRAW YOUR OWN MAP

MATERIALS NEEDED

  • Paper

  • Colored Pencils / Markers / Crayons

  • Optional: Ruler

DIRECTIONS

  1. The first decision is what to include on the map. Use your neighborhood and surrounding landmarks. Focus on the major landmarks in the area you're mapping. Places like your home, the road, neighbors' houses, stop signs, etc. are perfect examples.

  2. Begin to put those landmarks on the map! Start by drawing a compass rose to indicate north, south, east and west on the map. Position the paper to line up with the actual directions. This makes it easier to put the landmarks in the appropriate spots. Decide on symbols for different landmarks. A square might indicate a building in the neighborhood, for example. A circle might represent trees. Start by drawing a representation for a prominent landmark. Make sure to keep in mind the proportion of the objects on the map. A fire hydrant shouldn't be as large as the house, for example.

Use the maps below as examples! Click on them to enlarge. 

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ASSEMBLE A FIRST AID KIT

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When you’re hiking, you have to take care of any minor emergencies that come up. The Scout motto is “Be Prepared.” One way to be prepared is to carry a first-aid kit whenever you go hiking.