Badge support | Skills Challenge Awards
As one of the most flexible and varied badges in the Scout Programme, Skills Challenge Awards are great all-rounders. They encourage young people to try out a wide range of activities and start to develop specialised skills they may want to pursue later down the line. These awards teach young people about health and fitness, encourage creative freedom and independent thought, and develop some useful practical life skills.
Read on for some fun activity ideas and useful tips to help your Beavers, Cubs or Scouts achieve their award.
Beavers – My Skills Challenge Award
For requirement two, Beavers take part in three activities to learn about how they can keep their bodies fit and healthy. You could start by discussing the basics of keeping teeth clean with your Beavers. To bring the idea to life, why not adapt this flossing activity, creating your very own dental model to experiment with? You could also explore the effects of fizzy drinks on teeth by trying this experiment with coins.
To teach Beavers about the importance of exercise and healthy eating, check out these activity resources from Jaffa, who are sponsoring the badge. You could also adapt these mindfulness activities to teach Beavers about mental wellbeing and how it relates to physical wellbeing.
When completing this part of the award, a visit from an expert can be really valuable. It not only brings the topic to life, but also allows Beavers to ask their own questions and understand the broader context of any activities they have already tried. Why not see if any parents/guardians of your Colony are working within health and fitness? Are any of them doctors or dentists? Are any of them involved in sports or nutrition? Encouraging parents to take an active role will strengthen your Colony, and could potentially help you to recruit more adult volunteers.
For requirement three, Beavers take part in two creative activities of their choosing. Making a musical instrument from recycled materials is a fantastic way to fulfil this, and can also count towards the Creative Activity Badge. The week before the session, ask your Beavers if they can name some musical instruments. What do these instruments look like? What kind of sounds do they make?
Next, explain that next week they’ll be making their own musical instruments, and see if they can think of any everyday materials or objects that could be used to make a noise. Encourage them to bring in things to use, and make sure you have some spares at hand.
If they’re stuck, YouTube is full of tutorials, with everything from straw flutes to tin can drums and cereal box guitars. Even a bag of rice can be shaken like a maraca, and they’ll be delighted and surprised by the range of noises they can create.
Whichever creative activities they choose to do, the key is to let your Beavers run with their imaginations where possible. The badge is a great opportunity to encourage independent thought, rather than relying too heavily on instructions, and it may even unveil some hidden talents within the section.
Looking for some team problem-solving activities to fulfil requirement seven? You could challenge Beavers to build a protective structure for an egg. Can they build something so strong that the egg does not break when it is dropped? Alternatively, you could challenge them to build a paper bridge out of newspaper, or to build the tallest tower they possibly can, using only spaghetti and marshmallows. A classic game of jungle crossing could also work splendidly, as Beavers will need to use their logic skills to cross the room successfully, without landing on any imaginary hazards.
Cubs – Our Skills Challenge Award
For requirement one, Cubs try out two new sports or physical activities. For requirement two, Cubs take part in three activities to show they know how to be healthy more generally. Here are some fun educational activities to try together as a section, to improve Cubs understanding of health and why it matters.
To teach Cubs about the importance of exercise and healthy eating, you could adapt these Beaver activity resources from Jaffa. You could also adapt these mindfulness activities to teach young people about mental wellbeing and how it relates to physical wellbeing, or run your very own story yoga lesson for the Cubs to try out. Cub-specific activities for this badge will be released by Jaffa later this year, so it’s worth keeping an eye on our partnerships page for updates.
When completing this part of the badge, a visit from an expert can be really valuable. It not only brings the topic to life, but also allows Cubs to ask their own questions and understand the broader context of any activities they have already tried. See if any parents/carers are working within health and fitness. Are any of them doctors or dentists? Are any of them involved in sports or nutrition? Encouraging parents to take an active role will strengthen your Group’s network, and could potentially help you to recruit more adult volunteers.
For requirement three, Cubs take part in two creative activities of their choosing. If they opt to write a short story, you could play a word game to get everyone’s creativity flowing. Simply write down a different word on several pieces of paper and hide them around the room. Then, get each Six to collect a selection of words, and challenge them to work together to create a poem or song using each of the words they’ve found. Can they connect all of the words together?
If your Cubs are more visual, they might prefer to use images instead of words. If they opt to take photos and use them to tell a story, why not try out googly eye photography as a section first?
For requirement four, Cubs select at least four practical skills to learn, ranging from sewing a button to setting an alarm in the morning. Taking responsibility for things, whether that’s a household task or a fraction of their own timetable, gives Cubs a sense of autonomy, and equips them with some useful skills. It’s a great requirement for Cubs to work towards at home. They could simply take home a list of the skills to choose from with their parent/carer, or work in small groups to decide which four skills they would like to challenge themselves to do.
To introduce this part of the award, you could ask Cubs if they currently do anything to help at home or at school. How do they feel when they have finished? Do they feel happy or proud? Are there any responsibilities they already have, like getting themselves up for school? To show their new skills, they could use them on their next camp, or bring in photos to show that they were completed.
To complete the problem-solving element of the badge, you could challenge your Cubs to build a small bridge across a stream, or to design and make a model with at least two moving parts, or to create a model raft. You could also challenge them to make and solve a code or riddle. These are just a few examples; flexibility is key. Just remember to let your Cubs run with their imaginations throughout. The badge is a great opportunity to encourage independent thought, rather than relying too heavily on instructions, and it may even unveil some hidden talents within the section.
Scouts – Skills Challenge Award
Requirement one asks Scouts to take part in physical activities for four to six weeks, measuring their progress throughout. Any activity where the Scout will develop their fitness level whilst being able to show improvement is acceptable, and activities can be done as a whole Troop or as individuals. Remind them why it’s important to warm up and cool down before and after exercise, and ask them to keep a record showing their improvement. They could get creative and design their own exercise log - you can see examples of exercise logs on Pinterest.
For requirement two, Scouts have to demonstrate an understanding of healthy eating and sleep patterns. To teach your Scouts about sugar, try this ‘rethink your drink’ experiment. Simply purchase 10 different drinks that are approximately the same size, including water, milk, juice and fizzy drinks. Ask your Scouts to estimate how many teaspoons of sugar are in each bottle, keep a note of their guesses, and then reveal the answers by looking at the labels. Are there any unexpected results? Why is it important to limit our sugar consumption? Are certain sugars better for our body than others? These are all interesting questions to discuss, and Scouts may be surprised by the outcome of the experiment.
To encourage your Scouts to understand why sleep is so important for health, you could ask them to keep a sleep diary for a week, measuring the amount of sleep they get each night, and the factors that influence how well they sleep each night. Do they notice any key differences on different nights? Do they notice a difference in how they feel when they get more or less sleep? Is there anything that keeps them awake at night? To understand the science behind sleep, you could invite an expert to come and speak to the section. Check to see if your local university is conducting any research on sleep that could be adapted for a younger audience, and ask around to see if there are any parents/carers working in a medical profession who might want to come in and do a talk.
For requirement three, Scouts learn all about the effects smoking, alcohol and drugs can have and the dangers connected to each. Services like the NHS and Police often offer programmes that are aimed at young people around these areas, and could be invited in to run an evening. It is best practice to let parents/carers know that you will be covering these sensitive topics. We recommended the following websites to help you talk to your young people about tricky topics: www.talktofrank.com, www.themix.org.uk/drink-and-drugs, www.scouts.org.uk/lifeissues.
For requirement four, Scouts must master at least four household skills. If your Scouts are keen to take part in the cookery option for this part of the badge, why not host a ‘Come dine with me’ themed evening at your Scout meeting place? Assemble your Scouts into groups to produce a meal, dividing the tasks between themselves, and get them to rate each other’s finished creations just like the contestants do on the popular TV show. If you don’t have cooking facilities at your Scout meeting place, you could host a competition during your camp cooking session, or host a special BBQ at a local park or community centre.
To amp the competition up, you could offer a token prize or invite a local celebrity or senior member of your District along to help with the judging process. If Scouts also do the washing up afterwards, they automatically complete two of the five requirements for this part of the badge. With that in mind, hosting a dinner party is therefore an efficient way to kick-start everyone’s progress on the award, and to encourage teamwork within the section.
Whichever activities they choose to do, remember to let your Scouts run with their imaginations throughout. The badge is a great opportunity to encourage independent thought, rather than relying too heavily on instructions, and it may even unveil some hidden talents within the section.