I think it was about a year ago that my friend Ellie mentioned this scouting group she had heard about called Navigators USA, and suggested we start a chapter where we live. It's co-ed, all inclusive, and stresses being outside. It didn't take much to convince me! We started up in November last year, and have sort of muddled our way through finding a schedule that works for us, getting a sponsor and insurance, and sorting through the badges and activities. Other leaders from around the country have been very helpful, and we think we have somewhat found our groove. This past weekend we celebrated with an overnight campout and our first badge ceremony!
Due to fire restrictions and busy schedules, we decided to stick with an established campground nearby. Unfortunately, being a well-known place means sometimes you have to clean up other people's messes before you even start.
Fortunately the kids had boundless energy, and had all the trash (which was not limited to the fire pit) bagged up in no time. I started unpacking supplies, but couldn't shake the feeling that the trees were watching me.
They kept creeping closer, too! Scary!
Once everyone got there, we jumped into our first activity: decorating messenger bags to put our badges on! One of the other groups did something similar, and we loved the idea - so much more useful than sashes or vests that they will outgrow quickly.
Maybe not Pinterest-worthy, but I love them.
One of our juniorest members helped keep the markers sorted.
Many, many breaks to explore and climb. This particular log is always a huge hit. You feel like you are crossing hot lava, but it's a whopping 2 feet off the ground.
It's also a great place to just sit and chat with your friends.
We found LOTS of treasures.
Brontosaurus leg, obviously.
Turkey egg! We looked all over for the babies, but the mother must have moved them far away. Go figure.
This little one, however, spent quite a bit of time checking out our camp site.
It is hard to get a non-blurry photograph of a hummingbird. He hovered around the bright blue Navigators shirts, and checked out our messenger bags,
but he gave up and took off before we could offer any sugar water. Hopefully he found the sweet peas down the road!
We even found an Alamo Rock!!
Next up was tie-dying t-shirts, because we love making messes as much as we love being outside.
Of course, we all wore gloves.
Of course, the gloves leaked.
And I may or may not have used some of it to dye the tips of Sheridan's hair.
Time for the kids to put up the tents (step one towards our camping badge!)
This one supervised from the sidelines:
While her brother took a more centrally-involved approach.
He was convinced to move off to the side, but stayed hands-on.
Some of these poles are loooooong.
Must...resist...urge....to sword fight...
After lunch more free time to play, or brush up on your aircraft presentation - the final step in earning your Flight badge.
We had an amazing tour of the local airport a little while back, including exploring the inside of one of the slurry planes currently being used to fight a forest fire just 20 miles away. For each badge we try to complete three requirements together, then the kids do the fourth on their own. For this one, they had to research an aircraft of their choice, and tell the group about it. They all did SUCH a fantastic job, despite all the nerves!
They were really good listeners, too, and asked each other some very good questions. We didn't always know the answers,
but that just gives us something to look up later!
Finally, time for the presentation of badges!
We may have waited too long for some.
Super proud of everyone!!
Then back to just having fun. Miss Katie's hammock was a big hit.
They are all laughing, I promise!
Getting the grown-ups trained is always fun, too.
Or just being goofy.
As we were settling in for the night, a Forest Service truck with two rangers came through, and handed out Smokey Bear bookmarks and bracelets to the kids! Great way to make contact and build good relationships with campers, while checking on fire danger. The kids were thrilled!
Those who spent the night started on the silver level of their hiking badge with a night hike. Everyone crashed prettyquickly after that!
When almost everyone in the group owns chickens, eggs are a given for breakfast.
Also sausage, banana bread, cereal, oatmeal, and pickles. Don't ask.
The log made a great place to eat, too!
Sunday morning we worked on our communications badge. We talked about different ways we communicate, and being safe - not just internet safety, but not oversharing information about ourselves or each other in general conversation - a trend we have noticed lately!
They were great about participating in the discussion, but of course that's not as much fun as one of the other tasks: making up a secret code and writinf notes in it! We decided to come up with a code for our whole group to use. Each member picked a symbol for several different letters. It's a secret, so we can't show you the whole thing!
In retrospect, our most complicated symbol probably shouldn't have been used for "e".
Next they chose partners and wrote each other commands in the secret code.
My partner made me jump up and yell "Hooray!" Nobody even blinked, they are used to me doing weird things.
Finally, we made posters for the upcoming community pot luck. We talked about making things eye-catching, communicating without words, and finding a balance between too much information and not enough.
They came up with some awesome ideas! These will be hanging up around our little community very soon.
I'm not sure this gets the time and date across, but it sure is cute:
One last aircraft presentation:
And a talk about healthy snacks:
With hands-on (or teeth-on) exploration!
Then it was time to pack up, head home...and start laundry. An excellent end to our first Navigators "season", and huge thanks to everyone who made it so great!