Blog | Three activities to make the most of the summer
Summer is far from over. The air is still warm, the forests are green and the water is calling for a swim. Make the most out of the longer days with these three activites and take your section on some real summer experiences.
If you’re armed with plenty of midnight snacks, warm blankets, and a bit of patience - a night of stargazing and satellite spotting will delight your group, and may even kick-start some lifelong fascinations with the night sky.
Seasonal delights include the Sturgeon Moon, and the Summer Triangle - made up of stars Deneb, Vega and Altair. Deneb is the body of Cygnus, the swan. If you’re very lucky, you might just get a glimpse of the Milky Way, our galaxy, down which Cygnus appears to glide. Visibility can vary, so we suggest using this light-pollution map to help find the most suitable spot.
If your section is particularly interested in the men and women brave enough to travel beyond the Earth’s atmosphere, you can register to receive alerts from NASA when the International Space Station is due to pass over your meeting place. Why not sign up and gather the section for an all-nighter? You could perform a Mexican wave as the former Scout Tim Peake orbits, or incorporate some of the more hands-on activities related to the space badges (see below).
Beavers: Bear Nibbles printable on stargazing
Bear Nibbles printable for leaders
National Trust Stargazing Tips
2. Foraging and picnics
Why not incorporate some foraging into your planned hike, expedition, or summer camp?
CAUTION: Forage at your own risk. Do not consume any wild fruit, plant or fungus unless you can be sure of a 100% positive identification. The Scout Association is not liable for any illness, disease or death caused by wild foraging.
From refreshing nettle soup with toasted hazelnuts, to sparkling elderflower lemonade - summer foraging can open up a whole new world of flavours, and teach young people a great deal about the value of getting one’s hands dirty. Getting involved with the food they eat - learning where it comes from, and how to cook it - can also encourage everyone to enjoy more fruit and vegetables, and experiments with new flavours and cooking methods. Why not go on a hunt for picnic ingredients, and prepare it as a group?
Follow this link to read about the array of natural gems available at this time of the year, but, as ever, proceed with caution. The Woodland Trust has compiled some great guidelines outlining best practices. Make sure you discuss the safety and legality of foraging with your section, and encourage them to honour the nature around them by only collecting what they need.
3. Wild swimming
This interactive map from Wild Swim pinpoints a huge range of beautiful swimming spots across the UK - from unexpectedly majestic inner-city lidos to remote Scottish springs. It features a built-in filter, allowing you to find the safest and most appropriate places to go for a dip. Once they’ve braved the cold, your young people will fall in love with the wild, and may never be able to look at a heated, chlorine-filled pool with the same fondness again.
You could incorporate a lesson in mindfulness, encouraging the young people to enjoy the stillness and tranquillity that comes with just being present in the water, or hold a session on water safety and signalling, teaching the group about what to do if they are ever in trouble. Before running this activity with your section, you should consult our swimming rules and guidance at scouts.org.uk/a-z.