- Coloured pens or pencils
- A4 card
- Craft materials (for example, tissue paper, pipe cleaners, stickers)
- Sticky tape
- Poly pockets
- Computer or device with internet access, as needed
Before you begin
- Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Additional help to carry out your risk assessment, including examples can be found here. Don’t forget to make sure all young people and adults involved in the activity know how to take part safely.
- Make sure you’ll have enough adult helpers. You may need some parents and carers to help if you’re short on helpers.
- This activity works best if you’ve already completed some adventurous activities. Newcomers will need some idea of what activities the group have completed as part of your programme, so try to fill them in.
- This activity could also be run in the run-up to an adventurous activity you’re doing, to prepare everyone.
Plan your pledge
- Introduce some different adventure activity or action examples, like climbing a hill, to the group by running a quick game.
- Once this is finished, split everyone into small groups and have each group choose an activity that they’ve all taken part in.
This could be hillwalking, camping, climbing or kayaking, or even something like hovercrafting or mountain boarding, so long as it’s something they’ve done recently or that they’re planning on doing soon.
- Give each group paper and writing materials, and have them find a space to work. They should now think about the ways the activity they’ve chosen might affect the environment. This should account for all aspects of running the activity, from getting ready to taking part. Note down each stage of how the activity was run and have a think about them.
- Start making environmental responsibility pledge cards. Each person should take a sheet of card and use their list of actions to come up with a way of reducing the impact on the environment caused by the activity. They could use the examples below or go online and do some research. Remember, it is about making better environmental choices, not about being perfect.
- On one side of the card, they should write a checklist of things to do while packing or before they set off on the adventure. This could include planning to carpool, cleaning and mending equipment or packing food in containers to stop any rubbish being dropped.
- On the other side of the card, they should divide it into a 2x2 grid by drawing central horizontal and vertical lines. In each square, write an action that they should do while taking part in the adventure. This could include picking up any litter or sticking to footpaths. Everyone should be creative with this and try to think specifically about the activity their group is working on.
- Decorate the cards and slot into clear poly pockets. Seal the open tops of the pockets with some sticky tape.
- Thread through string, so that the cards can be tied securely onto a rucksack.
- Run the game from the beginning again (step 1), but this time use actions or activities that are good or bad for the environment in the game.
- Encourage everyone to remember to look at their card on their next adventure, both while they’re packing and getting ready, and while they’re taking part to make sure they reduce their impact.
- Check out the seven leave no trace principles or the countryside code as a starting point.
- There’s some great information from the Canal and River Trust, British Canoeing and the British Mountaineering Council.
- Think about what actions might do damage during the activity, anything you might take along that you won’t bring back, and whether anyone could see where you’ve been after you’re done.
Here’s some more ideas:
- Travel to the activity location together or use public transport
- Repair old clothing or find some suitable second-hand clothes you could use
- Stick to footpaths and set routes
- Don’t overcrowd popular locations
- Take litter home and compost it if it’s biodegradable
- Don’t feed the wildlife
- Keep the noise down – don’t disturb wildlife or other people
- Get rid of any single-use wrappers before you leave so you don’t litter
- Keep a safe distance from wildlife
- Check the access rights to the land you’re using
- Take care not to trample plants, fungi or animals
- Only take photos away with you, don’t remove other stuff
- Clean your boots before you set off
- If you’ve been on the water, clean your equipment afterwards too
- Donate to organisations who look after the land you’re using
- Don’t build any cairns (piles of stones) or damage any wildlife habitats
- Do a two-minute litter pick while you’re out
Spending time outdoors with friends is very important. It’s one of the most entertaining parts of being in Scouts, but it’s also a responsibility. You don't want to be the last people who are able to take part in that adventure. Pledge cards are a simple way to remember this responsibility. Following an activity, reflect on how everyone has used their cards, and ask whether another group could come along now and take part in the same exact adventure, and enjoy it just as much.
As Scouts, we should strive to leave the world a little better than we found it. How can we apply this when we’re out on adventures? Is the place you’re going pristine to begin with, or can you do something to make it even better for the next people to come along? This might require you to pick up some litter and not leave anything you’ve brought along behind. Did you lower emissions by carpooling to the activity? You might want to consider how many Scouts can you fit in your car the next time you head out. Remember, it is often most effective to make impacts simply and tangibly, with no need for what’s over the top.
- Online safety
Supervise young people when they’re online and give them advice about staying safe. Take a look at our online safety or bullying guidance. The NSPCC offers more advice and guidance, too. If you want to know more about specific social networks and games, Childnet has information and safety tips for apps. You can also report anything that’s worried you online to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Command. As always, if you’ve got concerns about a young person’s welfare, including their online experiences, follow the Yellow Card to make a report.
Supervise young people appropriately when they’re using scissors. Store all sharp objects securely, out of the reach of young people.
Make larger cards with 3x3 grids for more detail. You could also colour-code your cards for different activities or activity locations. Both of these will make your finished cards even more useful for everyone to refer to.
- When picking a game, make sure that everyone has everything they need to take part to the full extent. This might require you to play this in smaller groups or over a smaller area.
- Make sure that everyone has everything they need to complete the tasks in this activity. Everyone could work together to create one card to make copies of after, if this is easier.
All Scout activities should be inclusive and accessible.
Collating the cards created by the group for each specific activity into one, big environmental impact guide could be another way to go. This could be kept by the person leading the adventure for everyone to refer to when getting ready and taking part. It could also help the group undertake some practical action to use towards their Scouts Environmental Conservation Activity Badge.