Connect with nature on World Environment Day
With 50% of the Scout Programme dedicated to outdoors and adventure, Scouting obviously values the environment. And so, we’re joining people around the globe to celebrate World Environment Day on 5 June. Let’s spread the love for this tremendous planet we share by getting involved.
What would a hike be without a mountain to scale? How about a canoe with no river, or a picnic without a park? Think of camp without stars to sleep under. Imagine never experiencing the wonder of a waterfall, the smell of Jasmine in spring, the sweetness of honey, the feel of morning dew on the grass. Many of life’s most magical things are made possible by nature’s simple pleasures, from climbing trees and wandering through forests to splashing and swimming in fresh streaming rivers with friends.
Considering everything the environment gives us, there’s no doubt it deserves our thanks and protection. World Environment Day is a global celebration of nature. This year’s theme – connecting to nature – offers the chance ‘to reconnect with the places that matter most to you.’
Here are just a few of the endless ways to get young people involved, to enjoy and protect the wonders of the world while they work towards a range of badges.
Ways to celebrate, explore, and protect the environment
- Support your young people to contribute to the world’s biggest photo album. Organise a photography activity to support your young people working towards their Photographer Activity Badge. Once they’ve captured an image of their favourite spot in nature all they need to do is send in the photo or video, and share the image and the story of why this place matters to them using #WorldEnvironmentDay or #WithNature. They could stand a chance of having their submission featured in an exhibition at the United Nations headquarters where the best photos will be shared with world leaders.
- Reconnect with nature on camp. There’s nothing quite like journeying far from the crowds, smog and lights of the city into the fresh quiet of the wild. Organise a camping trip with your young people to support them to work towards their Outdoor Challenge Awards for Beavers, Cubs, or Scouts. Help them to learn the importance of taking care of the natural environment while outdoors, and they’ll be reminded that cleaning up and leaving the environment as we’ve found it is part and parcel of Scouting’s values. For their Expedition Challenge Award, Scouts can truly connect with their environment, by planning an exploration or expedition over two days.
- Get active in the outdoors with an activity inspired and made possible by nature. From hiking, canoeing, rafting, sailing and surfing, to cycling, abseiling, gliding and pony trekking, the possibilities are endless. These adventurous activities aren’t only an excuse to appreciate the outdoors but also a perfect way to work towards badges such as the Scouts Adventure Challenge Award, the Hikes Away Staged Activity Badge or the Explorers Hill Walker Activity Badge.
- Encourage your young people to organise a celebration of nature and host an event in the great outdoors or outside your meeting place. They can share their love for nature by celebrating a beautiful place they care about, and share their favourite moments with the global community using #WorldEnvironmentDay.
- Help your young people become Citizen Scientists by contributing to a database that monitors our impact on the environment. All they need to do is download the iNaturalist app and send in their observations of nature. The World Environment Day team are asking people to 'get out and record the biodiversity in their own backyards. From the rarest butterfly to the most common weeds, we’ll share your findings with scientific date repositories like the Global Biodiversity Information Facility to help scientists find and use your data. All you have to do is observe.’ Find more details here and use this opportunity for young people to work towards their Cubs Naturalist Activity Badge, Scouts Naturalist Activity Badge or Explorers Naturalist Activity Badge.
- Support your young people to conserve and protect our world. Your section could organise a beach cleanup or a recycling event, or start an awareness campaign to highlight environmental issues. Whether your young people are concerned about the effects of pollution, water or energy consumption, erosion, flooding or climate change, there are so many important ways we can contribute to the protection and conservation of our world.
This would be a great project for their Community Impact Staged Activity badges or the Environmental Conservation Activity Badges for Cubs and Scouts. For Explorers and Network Explorers, the activity could contribute to the community aspects of the top awards.
For their Expedition Challenge Award, Scouts could plan an exploration to investigate an area of natural beauty or an urban area, to assess human impact on the environment.
Why it’s so important
Well, in the words of Dr Seuss’s the Lorax: ‘Unless someone like you cares a whole lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.’
The President of WWF International, Yolanda Kakabadse, shares her environmental concerns, referring to last year’s WWF report, showing us that ‘wildlife numbers are on course for a two-thirds decline in the 50 years to 2020, due entirely to human activity… In January, NASA and the Met Office confirmed that 2016 had broken the record for the hottest year ever, previously held by 2015, which had itself broken the record set in 2014. Natural disasters are becoming more intense and frequent. In southern and eastern Africa, an unusually strong El Niño last year, coupled with record-high temperatures, has left 36 million people living in drought and hunger.’
‘But,’ she adds, ‘if humanity can cause this damage we can fix it too.’ She believes this begins with reconnecting with nature.
Support your young people to get involved in the appreciation, conservation and protection of the most valuable (and only) home we have, by helping them reconnect with nature this World Environment Day. For further inspiration take a look at the World Environment Day website.