Monday, March 26, 2012

Don't Bug Me

            I’m a Cub Scout Den Leader. The better you know me, the funnier that is. I’m not outdoorsy. I did grow up in an outdoorsy family and have had fun adventures hiking and camping throughout my life. But those kinds of activities don’t come second nature to me. They’re like a pair of jeans that fit, but are never quite comfortable.
            I’ve gotten by pretty well with my scouts. I lead the second graders or “Wolves”. We follow the handbook and discuss hygiene, the environment, fire safety, and stranger danger. No problem. We do crafts—lots and lots of crafts. Also, not a problem. I even got out my trusty exacto knife and created a Cub Scout bingo game for us to play.
            As the weather turned unseasonably warm last week, I realized I had to get the boys outside for our meeting. The other dens were probably doing outside activities and if I decided to have them learn how to do paper mache, we’d have an uprising of seven-year-old boys on our hands. One of the recent issues of Boy’s Life Magazine had a feature about marbles and I thought that would be a great tie-in to our meeting. Of course, I had this thought two nights before and had little time to act on it. I managed to get to five different stores and come away with no marbles. Before you write in to tell me where to get them I have since located these elusive wee beasties.
            On Wednesday afternoon I was at Target, not finding the marbles (they’re in the party favor section if you find yourself in the market) and I came upon bug collecting kits in the dollar section. They’re little clear plastic boxes with magnifying lenses built into them. Ding! Ding! Ding! What seven-year-old boy doesn’t like bugs? When the meeting started I gave the boys their kits along with pencils and inexpensive notebooks, which I called their nature journals. Then I sprayed them all with Deep Woods off. It was a great segue into a discussion of bugs. What’s the difference between insects and arachnids? Why are bugs important to the environment?  We talked about pollination and the food chain. My little explorers had a wealth of knowledge to share with each other.
            Then we set out to explore. We overturned every rock and fallen log. We examined every crack in the concrete. We picked up bugs in our collection boxes to make notes about them. Then we set them free. There were centipedes, rolly pollies, beetles, and loads of ants and spiders. We even found some worms—they aren’t bugs but they sure are cool to a seven-year-old boy. The Cubs were captivated the whole time and were only distracted once in a while by the other Dens who were also outside doing activities.
            When James (my seven year old son) learned that one of the older groups had spent their meeting setting off rockets powered by air pressure he said, “Man, you’re lucky.”
            “Did you like what we did tonight James?” I asked.
            “Yeah! It was awesome!” he replied.
            So this not-so-outdoorsy girl managed to keep the boys entertained with nature. And it was almost as cool as rockets. Mission accomplished. Just don’t tell the boys I’m terrified of spiders.