Take a Hike: Add Variety to a Nature Hike

A hike can be more than just a walk through the woods when campers are encouraged to appreciate and understand the wonders of nature.

Color Hike

Before going on the hike, ask campers to fold a piece of paper into four or six sections and color each section a different color. When campers hike, have them look for something that matches each color on their paper and write the name, sound, etc., on the corresponding colored square.

Scavenger Hunt Hike

Before going on the hike, make a list of items the group should look for and find. For example, oak tree, bird's nest, deer tracks, a certain flower, walnut, or other items that are indigenous to your area. As a group, campers search for the items and mark them off the list. Unlike a traditional scavenger hunt where individuals and/or teams search on their own for items, encourage the group to stay together and search for item within the established boundaries.

Animal Evidence Hike

Animals often hide when they hear a group of noisy campers hiking through the woods, but the signs of where they have been are everywhere. Campers can look for this "evidence" and identify what type of animal or insect inhabits an area.

For this hike, you will need field guides and animal track guides, magnifying glasses and binoculars, and pencil and paper. Encourage campers to look but not touch.

Discuss with campers the many ways animals make their presence known, such as dropped feathers, food remnants, tracks, tree marking, and droppings. Ask campers to identify as many animal traces as possible. Work together to identify which animal left the evidence behind.

Things to look for:  

  • bird eggshells  
  • cicada castings
  • cocoons, empty or full
  • earthworm tracks in mud
  • eggs laid on leaves
  • empty insect exoskeletons
  • feathers
  • holes in trees
  • old bird nests and squirrel nests
  • wasp's nests
  • sandy ant hills
  • spider's web                  

Alphabet Hike

Find something in nature that begins with each letter of the alphabet. Before leaving for the hike, write the letters of the alphabet on a piece of paper. As you walk, look for an animal, a plant, a sound, or a scent for each letter.

Sunrise Hike

Before sunrise, hike to a high point to watch the sun come up. Bring along a ready-made breakfast or cook breakfast on the trail while you watch the new day emerge.

Related Topic
Tick Prevention Tips

Adapted from the Cub Scout Funbook and the Nature Specialist.

Originally published in the 2000 May/June of Camping Magazine.

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interesting

When I was young, I used to go on animal evidence hikes, quite a bit, with friends. Never thought of doing something like that in my later years. I think with all the work, especially issues with my OS, etc... you can of ween of these kinds of things. Though, it appears as though there are somethings to take away from doing it. So maybe I might just consider it.

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