STEM Anyone?

I’m working on my largest badge set yet.

Science Center

My girls have a fascination with science. We have been to more science museums, centers, parks and the like than any other single place . . . including camping.

Many of the science centers we’ve visited were located in older buildings like warehouses. The exhibits were frequently handmade and I couldn’t help but think we could make some of them ourselves. I noticed that the activities we did as a group were also done at the museums.

In addition, many elementary classrooms have space set aside for science or they do it for a short period of time. I thought if we could get troops, after school providers, teachers and others who are interested in science together to make a temporary center in an unused building, wouldn’t the kids love to try it out? Together, couldn’t we make something much better than we could individually?

And so, I’m working on a badge set for just this purpose. Creation, exhibits, little additions, shop and support are all in the rough draft stage.

I wanted to include badge programs for grouped science activities so if you really didn’t know what to do, you’d have a way to start your brain!

If you have a favorite science center, send me the URL so I can check out what they’re doing.

If you’ve enjoyed a science experiment or exhibit, please share it.

I’ll try to incorporate as many as I can.

Thanks for your help.

Grab ‘N’ Go: SWAP Necklace

SWAP_Necklace_lrlOne way to display / wear your SWAPs is on a necklace. By finger knitting a necklace, you have loose stitches that look really good with the SWAPs.

If you need more help, check out “finger knitting” on YouTube.



  • Scissors


  • Yarn



Start — Hold one end of yarn as shown on left. Wrap yarn through fingers.

Two layers — Each finger has two  layers of yarn. Pull the bottom one up and over the top of the first and off each finger.

Slide down — Slide remaining one layer down your fingers so it doesn’t come off your fingers as you continue.

Wrap again — Per image on right, wrap your fingers again, coming up between the first and second fingers, wrapping around pinky and back. Pull bottom layer up and over the top and over finger again.

NOTE: As you lengthen this, the finished stitches will go down the back of your hand.

Yarn off fingers — To get yarn off your fingers, move first finger loop to second finger, then pull the yarn that was on the second finger up and over the loop you moved over the top of your finger.

Move the yarn on the second finger to the third and repeat the step above. Then, move the yarn from the third finger to the fourth.

Finish — Pull remaining loop off fourth finger, but leave open. Clip off a few inches of extra yarn and put through the loop, pulling tight.

Go back to your starting yarn and tie that in a knot as well to keep that end together.

Tie the two loose ends together to complete the necklace.

Weave the ends in to hide them.


To download a PDF of this Grab ‘N’ Go sheet, click here: GnG_SWAP Necklace_lrl


Badge: Backyard Camping

BackCamp_04URLStart your outdoor camping progression by camping in the backyard. If someone can’t make it through the night, it’s easy to go inside and make a quick call.





1. Planning.

Just like any other trip, you need to plan. Start with the number you plan on attending. If you’re doing this as part of an organization, be sure to consult any rules they have.

From there, determine the activities, food and space you’ll need. Make a tentative schedule with your campers to start the process.

2. Cleaning up.

Before camping in your backyard, be sure to clean it up. From picking up sticks and rocks to removing animal waste to trimming bushes, you’ll want everything neat and tidy. This will minimize the chances of anyone getting hurt in the dark.

3. Night safety.

Moving around at night can be hazardous. There are steps you can take to make it less so. Walk around your backyard at night. What things might your campers need to be aware of? What safety concerns might come up in your backyard? Can you do something to minimize these? Prepare to share these items with your campers.

4. Insects and allergies.

Many people have allergies. This includes insect repellent. If you are planning on using anything your campers might be allergic to, be sure at least two people know what to do in case of an allergy attack. Be prepared with health forms in case you need to go to the emergency room.

5. Camp buddies.

Insist on the buddy system. It keeps anyone from wandering off on their own. Also, be sure everyone knows they are not to leave the property without adult consent.

6. Glow bracelets.

Kids love glow bracelets, but they can have a multitude of uses.

  • Mark cords or tripping hazards
  • On outside door to identify someone is using the bathroom / is indoors
  • Play hide and seek with sticks in the dark
  • Place in balloons, glasses of water, etc. to add glow or support a theme

Find other ways to use glow sticks for safety and fun.

7. Parent partners.

If you have a potential camper who is completely terrified of backyard camping, you may want your first experience to include a same-sex parent. Evaluate your campers. Will each be able to make the entire night? Are there other ways you can include parents at the beginning or end to help reduce camper stress?

8. Rules.

Everyone has rules for their house. Classrooms have rules. Troops and groups have rules. Make a set of rules for your backyard campout. Include your campers in the creation of your list.

9. Kaper charts.

With a larger group, be sure to make kaper charts (or the equivalent) so everyone knows what jobs they are to do. For smaller groups, you can do everything together, but the practice of making and following a kaper chart is good practice for anyone.

10. Tents.

Do you have enough tents for everyone? Are you doing large tents or will everyone have their own small pop-up? Discuss tents and how everyone will be sleeping.

11. Food.

Not only do you want to plan for any meals or snacks (including s’mores), you may want to limit the snacks that are brought in by your campers. A lot of sugar may keep them up late and disturb others. Some foods may attract wildlife. Review how you plan to handle food.

12. Night games.

Choose a game or two and see how you can adapt it so you can continue to play after the sun goes down. Alternatively, you can check out the Enrichment Project badge program “Night Games” for more on games you can play at night.

13. Camp crafts.

Explore camp crafts. Pick one that you’d like to do before or during your backyard camping event. These might include:

  • Sit upons
  • Lanyards
  • SWAPs
  • Water bottle holder
  • Bracelets

Brainstorm a list of crafts you’ve made at camp or ones you’d like to try. Make samples and get feedback from your campers.

14. Edible fire.

Don’t want a real fire? Perhaps you want to practice before doing the real thing. Teaching how with food is a great way to do this. It can also serve double duty as a snack. Look at how to make an edible fire.

15. Fire pits.

Most people don’t have a specified area for burning in their yard. Fire pits have become popular, so you no longer have to damage your lawn. Prepare to instruct your campers on fire safety, how to start a fire and how to put one out.

16. Storytelling.

You may think ghost stories are the only stories worth hearing at a camp fire. Some people don’t like ghost stories and younger campers may be too scared to sleep. What rules might you put in place to determine the stories you tell? Should you limit who tells the stories or should you take turns? Prepare a few stories as examples of what you’d like.

17. Sing along.

Singing around a fire is a lot of fun. From traditional songs to popular ones, there are way more songs to sing than you can do in a single night. Brainstorm ways you might choose which songs to sing.

18. Stargazing.

Planning on looking up at the sky? Be prepared to identify at least a couple constellations and know the story behind at least one.

19. More to do?

You may be planning to do things not covered in this badge program. That’s great! Be sure to check and make sure the activities are safe and if they fall under instructions from your organization.


Supplements Available

See the Enrichment Project badge program “Night Games”


Sites to Explore



To download a PDF of this badge program, click here: EP_Backyard Camping


Badge: Outdoor Service

OutServ_04URLMost people think of only one idea when asked to do service outside. We’ll start with that one and see where we end up.





1. Pick up trash.

Picking up and properly disposing trash is a service anyone can do. Be sure everyone has gloves in case items are questionable. Places you can pick up trash include:

  • Beach
  • Graveyard
  • Highway
  • Park
  • Playground
  • School
  • Waterway
  • Yard

Spend some time picking up items in a specified area. Ask others to help you if the area is large.

Prepare a plan in case you find something that is not appropriate for your helpers. For example, we once found a knife on the playground while we were picking up trash. Our rule is if you see a sharp object (knifes, syringes, etc.), you do not touch it. You stand next to it and get an adult’s attention.

Also, if you see damaged items or areas, contact the person in charge of the area to let them know.

2. Composting.

You might try this with your family, church, school or organization. Discuss ways this helps the environment. How can you get information out to people who don’t know about it?

3. Planting / weeding.

You can plant grass, flowers, shrubs and trees in many locations. Be sure to obtain permission beforehand. Identify locations where you might want to place one or a few plants.

4. Raking and shoveling.

These two tasks are difficult . . . especially for older people. Identify someone in your neighborhood who could use some help and volunteer to do it.

5. Community garden.

Community gardens not only bring nature into an area, but it provides food for local people and / or shelters. Do you have a community garden you can help with? If not, is there an area you might be able to use for this purpose?

6. Support the wild ones.

From bird feeders to salt blocks, during certain times of the year, wildlife needs help. Identify small ways you can help your local wildlife.

7. Zoos and shelters.

Helping at a shelter or zoo allows you to work with animals. Feeding, cleaning and even taking them for walks can be possible tasks. You may need to be a certain age to help with more difficult tasks. Check with these and see if they have opportunities for working with animals.

8. Wildlife habitats.

Create, fix or maintain a habitat for wildlife. This might be a butterfly garden, bat house, etc. You can make this a project for a group or school. Check out the National Wildlife Foundation for information on building schoolyard habitats.

9. Support parks.

Cleaning, spreading mulch, pulling invasive species — these are all things we’ve done at the Indiana Dunes. Visit your local parks / park department. Find out if they need individuals to help and if you have the skills they need. Plan a day to do a few jobs.

10. Fix a playground / park.

Visit a local playground / park. Make a list of items that need to be fixed. Obtain permission to do so and ask others so you can get the jobs done to make it safe.

11. Paint.

Painting is an easy but time consuming task. Identify areas where some paint would help such as fences or benches. You can also cover graffiti if it is offensive. Offer to paint.

12. Start a campaign.

Bring awareness of one of these issues or one of your own to your community and ask others to join you:

  • Carpooling / biking / walking
  • Energy conservation
  • Hazardous waste collection / disposal
  • Recycling items / centers
  • Water conservation

13. Specific programs.

Some organizations have specific programs and / or activities they might ask you to participate in. Check out one or more of the following:

  • America Recycles Day
  • Earth Day Network
  • Great American Cleanup
  • Habitat for Humanity
  • World Water Monitoring Day

14. Talk to leaders.

If none of these interest you, talk to leaders in your area to determine needs that are not listed here. Bring them back to your group / organization. How can you volunteer to help?


Sites to Explore



To download a PDF of this badge program, click here: EP_Outdoor Service