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Volunteering at Scouts is changing to help us reach more young people

Volunteering is changing to help us reach more young people

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Damper snakes

Make a tasty bread dough with this classic backwoods cooking recipe.

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You’ll need

  • Ingredients (see recipe)
  • Mixing bowls
  • Spoons
  • Kitchen scales
  • Live (green) sticks
  • Measuring jug
  • Bucket of water
Recipe card (Damper snakes)
PDF – 186.5KB

Before you begin

  • Split into small groups of about six people.
  • Everyone should collect live sticks – they need to be long enough for people to be reach into the fire without getting burned, and wide and strong enough to carry the weight of the dough. Live sticks will still be attached to a branch, so people will need to snap them off or cut them down.
  • Everyone should build and light a fire.
  • Everyone should wash their hands.

Make your meal

  1. Groups should get ready to cook by making sure their area, their equipment, and their team members are clean and ready to go.
  2. The person leading the activity should give each group a copy of the recipe card, their equipment, and their ingredients.
  3. Groups should follow their recipe card to prepare, backwoods cook, and enjoy their damper snacks.
  4. Groups need to follow the steps in order (for example, they can’t roll the dough before they’ve made it). Some people could, however, read ahead and make sure things are ready, for example by covering the sticks in foil while someone else kneads the dough.

Extinguish your fire and clean up

  1. Once everyone has finished using the fire, no one should add any more wood. The fire will die down.
  2. Someone should use a new stick (not one that’s been in the fire) to carefully spread out the wood and embers so they cool down faster.
  3. Someone should pour water over the smouldering wood and ashes to make sure they’re fully extinguished. They should use the stick to mix the water through the ashes.
  4. Everyone should work together to clear up quickly and efficiently – each group needs to wash up their utensils and dispose of rubbish and leftovers.


This activity helped you to value the outdoors. Did you enjoy cooking outside? What did you notice about the outdoors as you cooked? Was the outdoors helpful today, or did it make cooking challenging? What did the outdoors give you to cook with? How did you make sure it was safe? Did you enjoy backwoods cooking? How did you keep the outdoors safe as (and after) you cooked?

This activity also helped you to live healthily. What other ingredients could you add to your snack, for example to add fruit or protein? Why are carbohydrates an important part of a balanced diet? Why is it especially important to eat enough when you’re active or spending time outdoors?


All activities must be safely managed. You must complete a thorough risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Always get approval for the activity, and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.

Outdoor activities

You must have permission to use the location. Always check the weather forecast, and inform parents and carers of any change in venue.


Teach young people how to use cooking equipment safely. Supervise them appropriately throughout. Make sure it’s safe to use and follow manufacturers’ guidelines for use.

Fires and stoves

Make sure anyone using fires and stoves is doing so safely. Check that the equipment and area are suitable and have plenty of ventilation. Follow the gas safety guidance. Have a safe way to extinguish the fire in an emergency.


Remember to check for allergies, eating problems, fasting or dietary requirements and adjust the recipe as needed. Make sure you’ve suitable areas for storing and preparing food and avoid cross contamination of different foods. Take a look at our guidance on food safety and hygiene.

Sharp objects

Teach young people how to use sharp objects safely. Supervise them appropriately throughout. Store all sharp objects securely, out of the reach of young people.

You could make the dough in advance.

Make sure the ingredients are suitable for everyone’s dietary needs. You may need to use gluten free self-raising flour.  

All Scout activities should be inclusive and accessible.