Hiking is an activity that any Scout is sure to be doing often with their troop. However, some hikes are strenuous, and not all hikes may feel like fun right off the bat. That’s why in this article, I’ll be teaching you my best tips for making any troop hike more fun, enjoyable, and successful!
While many hikes can be relaxing and enjoyable, some troop hikes can also pose quite a challenge — especially for newer Scouts. You may be trekking uphill or downhill for miles, not have much shade, or just be uncomfortable. Hiking inconveniences will definitely happen, but it shouldn’t mean your trip should be a bust!
How Can You Have A Better Troop Hike? The best hikes in Scouting are those that are well-paced, upbeat, and enjoyable. To make your next troop hike even better, plan some fun activities, make sure to be well-prepared with enough water and supplies, and keep your troop’s morale high!
PS. This article is a collaboration between Eagle Scouts, Chandler M, and Cole 🙂
In this guide, we’ll first be discussing my favorite games and activities you can get into with your fellow Scouts on the trail. Then, we’ll be giving you some tips to prevent common hiking issues. Finally, you’ll learn some mindsets and techniques for making your hike even more easy and enjoyable. Let’s go!
The 5 Best Hiking Games and Activities
A great way to make a hiking trip even more fun and engaging is to incorporate activities into your schedule. Spicing up your trek with a few enjoyable chants, games, or mind-teasers is an easy way to boost the overall morale of any Scout group. 😀
Below are some ideas for hiking activities you can use to improve group cheer and get your fellow troop members involved (or thinking less about how much their legs hurt 😛 ). As an added bonus, practically all of these activities require no extra supplies, so they can be played anytime, anywhere!
Eye-Spy is probably one of the most simple but entertaining games you can play while hiking. This game requires nothing more than your fellow Scouts and their eyeballs. You may have already played this game as it’s super popular on long car rides or other types of troop outings.
To play Eye-Spy, one player will say “I spy (something ____)” and name an attribute this thing has. It could be its color, texture, shape, or anything else you may think of. For example, “I spy with my little eye, something red.” Now, the other Scouts have to guess what that thing is based on what they can see!
Eye-Spy was my all-time favorite road trip game! This game can be started before you even arrive on your trek. You can even keep a running tally of the Scout that guesses the Eye-spy first, and play the game throughout the whole trip so that every Scout can compete to be the best!
A few times, we incorporated prizes into the game so that Scouts were more willing to get involved. For instance, one time the Scout who guessed the most correctly Eye- spys didn’t need to cook dinner! However, bragging rights were often a good enough prize to get many Scouts playing!
Playing the identification game is a fantastic way to hone your Scout knowledge and have a fun competition at the same time. To play the ID game, Scouts will need to correctly identify plants, animal tracks, fungi, or whatever else you could come across while trekking.
If you plan on getting really competitive, make one of the Scoutmasters your “judge,” especially if they have a lot of knowledge in this area. They can point out neat flora or fauna, and ask you hikers if anyone can ID what you’ve come across. Like with Eye-spy, the most right answers wins!
My troop liked to play this game except we only identified animal scat. We played to our crude sense of humor but were able to learn something while doing it, lol. Make sure to print and bring along a local guide so that you can verify answers and be on the lookout for any special identifications (or droppings!).
Even if some Scouts aren’t as knowledgeable as others, they’ll still have an awesome time learning while engrossed in nature. This is a great way to teach younger Scouts some basic tree, plant, or animal identification with the specimens right in front of you. As an added bonus, identifying animal signs will allow Scouts to finish Second Class rank requirement 4 (link is to my guide)!
Scout Songs and Chants
Scouting is well known for having lots of easy-to-learn songs in its repertoire. And, when hiking, singing a Scout song or chant with your troop is a simple way to bring everyone together, teach younger Scouts a new tune, and boost the morale of your trek!
Plus, you could even practice your patrol yells and cheers during a hike if you don’t know any Scout songs. In my troop, these treks were a great time to discuss patrol plans and get to know everyone better. However, in this point, we’ll just be focusing on Scout songs!
One of my troop’s favorite songs was “If I Were Not A Boy Scout”. We used this song to make jokes about our Scout leaders with lyrics like “If I were not a Boy Scout, a Scout Master I would be” and make snoring noises. There are plenty of other ways you can spin this song to get a laugh!
There are probably hundreds of songs you could sing while hiking. However, when hiking you’ll need something that’s easy, relatively mindless, and funny! These are like the military cadence calls that drill instructors give, but instead for Scouts! Here’s how to call some of my favorites Scout hiking songs:
If I Were Not A Boy Scout – Scouting Song
- Everyone: If I were not a Boy Scout, I’ll tell you what I would be, If I were not a Boy Scout, I’ll tell you what I would be…
- Scout giving call (switch off): If I were not a Boy Scout, (some profession) I’d rather be! (3 things relating to the profession: 2 syllables, 2 syllables, 5 syllables) Below are some examples:
- A Scoutmaster I Would Be
Do this, do that, I think I’ll take a nap!
- A teacher I would be
Sit down, shut up, throw away your gum!
- A politician I would be
Raise the taxes, lower the pay, vote for me on election day!
- A Statue I Would Be
(Freeze for the rest of the song)
Guilty, Innocent, I don’t really care!
- A garbage collector I’d be
Lift it, dump it, pick out the good stuff!
- A Scoutmaster I Would Be
The video (6:26) below is an excellent example of the “If I Were Not A Boy Scout” song being performed as a skit. However, when hiking, it’s often easier to come up with new calls and not worry too much about the theatrics. This can even serve as planning to perform this song at a jamboree in the future!
Peel Banana – Scouting Song
- First you peel bananas
- Peel, peel bananas
Yeah you peel bananas
Peel, peel bananas
- Peel, peel bananas
- Then you slice bananas
- (Repeat next 3 lines for all food verbs)
- Then you eat bananas
- Then you go bananas!
- First you plant potato
- Plant, plant potatoes
Yeah you plant potatoes
Plant, plant potatoes
- Plant, plant potatoes
- Then you farm potatoes
- Then you peel potatoes
- Then you mash potatoes
- First you plant the corn
- Plant, plant some corn
Yeah you plant some corn
Plant, plant some corn
- Plant, plant some corn
- Then you pick the corn
- Then you shuck the corn
- Then you pop some corn
There’s a lot more fruits and veggies to include in this song, so below is a great (and hilarious!) video (2:12) demonstrating the body movements for this song if you decide to do it in skit form after all of your hiking practice. Like with all Scout songs, try to improvise, come up with your own lyrics, and have a blast!
If you get everyone in your patrol or troop to chant along, this song goes HARD! Below is a great video (2:18) of how much fun the Peel Banana song is if you let loose and enjoy yourselves:
To get others to participate, go around and ask your fellow Scouts to join in on a song or cheer. There are obviously so many more Scout songs you can choose from (I even have a guide on them), so they may pick something you’ve never heard of and teach everyone something new!
Also, remember that there’s a time and place to be loud and raucous. If there are other hikers nearby, be considerate and follow the lessons taught in Scouting’s Outdoor code. However, you’ll surely have plenty of time during hikes to engage in fun, morale-boosting chants so get out there and lead the way!
Hilarious Scout Jokes
The quickest way I’ve seen to boost morale during a hike is to tell jokes. Every Scout loves a good joke and it can quickly cheer up Scouts who may be struggling through a hike. Just like Scout songs, there are plenty of clean Scout jokes to choose from. You can even check my article on 17 of my favorite Scouting jokes!
You can even pick non-Scouting jokes but just know your audience. You’ll likely need to keep your jokes clean so keep that in mind before telling a joke to your fellow Scouts. Here are a couple of funny and clean jokes you can consider telling during your next hike:
- Q: Why is it so easy for a Scout to get married?
- A: Because they know fifty ways to tie the knot!
- Q: What did the quarterback say to the Scout?
- A: Hike!
If you’re feeling especially clever, you can obviously make some up on the fly. Definitely encourage others to join as well. The best thing you can do while telling jokes on a trip is to include everyone you can!
Clean Up Litter
As a Scout, one of your main goals should be to leave any areas better than you found them. This especially applies to hiking trails. Sadly, many trails have been littered on by people who do not follow the Scouting Outdoor Code.
One way you can make your hike a little more engaging is to see who can pick up the most litter. Each group of Scouts can carry a trash bag, and the group that collects the most litter by the end of the trek wins! This is a quick and easy way to mix the competitive fun of Scouting with some impromptu service.
10 Quick Tips For Scout Hiking Trips
As you probably know, the Scout Motto says to “Be Prepared”. It’s especially important to be prepared while hiking, as you’ll likely be a ways away from civilization for a little while and need to pack in everything you’ll need.
In this section, I’ll provide you with some tips that may save your hiking trip. I’ve definitely had my fair share of rough hikes and thankfully learned a ton from them. With these quick packing and mindset tips, I hope you can learn from my mistakes and have a successful hiking adventure!
- Always Bring a Few Moleskins
- This is a must-have for any hike. Whether or not you’ve broken in your boots, you’re still likely to get a blister for a multitude of reasons. Moleskin is a thick, adhesive bandage that will quickly relieve any pressure on the blister and get you back on the trail.
- Pack Anti-Chafing Goldbond Sticks or Powder
- Chafing happens often when you’re hiking. It can be caused by skin or bunched-up clothing rubbing harshly against moist skin to create a rash. A Goldbond friction stick or some generic foot powder is the best way to alleviate pain and prevent rashes.
- Trekking through the woods is probably one of the best places to just let your mind wander. While you’re walking, think about your goals, things you want to do, the food you want to eat, or anything else that pops into your head. This can keep your mind off of a tough hike and push you through to the end.
- Be Inclusive
- As always, it’s crucial to involve all of the Scouts who are attending. Do your best to include them in activities, games, and simple conversations. Reaching out and talking to someone who you don’t normally talk to goes a long way toward making friends in Scouting! 😀
- Be Courteous
- While out in nature, it’s important to be courteous to others. Not only are you supposed to protect your natural resources, but you also need to be mindful of others using the area.
- Don’t Overpack
- I can’t overstate this enough. It’s important to be prepared, but there are limits to what you should bring while camping or hiking. Try to leave behind anything unnecessary so you’re not carrying too much. Try to not have your pack exceed 20% of your body weight.
- Ask For Advice
- Hiking is a great time to ask older Scouts or Scout leaders for their advice on school, life, or Scouting. They have a lot of wisdom to share, and talking will keep the time flying by while you’re on the trail.
- Bring Plenty of Water
- Staying hydrated is extremely important while exerting yourself, especially outdoors. Make sure you bring plenty of water so that you and your fellow Scouts don’t suffer dehydration or heat stroke. I always liked using an in-backpack water blatter, as it made drinking enough fluids super simple, even while on the go.
- Pack Sunscreen/Bug Spray
- Sunscreen and bug spray are essentials for every hike. Since you’ll be outside and in nature, it’s important to protect yourself against the elements while hiking — especially mosquitoes, and sunburns!
- Be Positive
- Even though some hikes may be rough, it’s extremely necessary that you stay positive. This not only keeps your mood high but also cheers up other Scouts who may be struggling.
Tips For Keeping a Great Hiking Mindset
Finally, we’ve all been there, getting tired and frustrated on a hike. When you’re hiking and things start getting really tough, it can be hard to stay positive. This is a pitfall that I’ve definitely fallen into before, and it can ruin a perfectly good trip. Being negative not only hurts you but it often also affects others.
That’s why it’s key to manage your attitude and always try your best to stay cheerful! If you notice that you’re starting to have a bad attitude on a hike, use one or a few of these tips to reel yourself back in and hopefully start enjoying the trip:
- Look For Landmarks
- Trying to identify landmarks isn’t just a way to see some cool sights along the trail, it can also help track how close you are to the finish! What I’d do is look for something far away, and watch it grow closer until we reached it. After repeating the process a few times, one or two miles would pass in no time! This is a great way to focus on getting to the end, rather than on any discomfort you’re feeling.
- Do Some Thought Experiments
- This is something I did a lot to get my mind off of a rough hike. I would think of things like “What would I do if I had a billion dollars” or “What do I want to do after college.” these random thought experiments helped me to ignore the negatives and stay positive. Plus, I’d also often ask a Scout buddy who was also struggling, and it’d take both of our minds off the pain for a while!
- Start a Random Conversation
- Talking is one of the best ways to get your mind off of something difficult. Try starting a conversation with one of your fellow Scouts. Pick their brain about something they enjoy, ask them about their school life, or maybe even look for some common interests!
- Take Pictures
- Hiking is a perfect opportunity to take lots of beautiful pictures. Plus, if you want to earn the Photography merit badge, this can be a great way to sign off some requirements! Bringing along a camera while hiking, taking artsy pictures, and being able to reflect on your trip later is a great way to explore the beauty of nature.
It is always important to try and stay positive, even when things get hard. Perseverance is an amazing skill to have, and Scouting is one of the best opportunities to practice it. Thinking back to my Scouting days, the hardest hikes made for the best stories, so don’t totally discount your experience! 🙂
There you have it! By putting these tips, activities, and mindsets into practice, you’ll be well prepared to have some incredible hikes with your troop. Remember to keep a positive mindset and try to make the most out of each hike, as trekking with buddies can be one of the most enjoyable experiences in Scouting.
Now that you know how to do troop hikes like a pro, I challenge you to put what you learned into practice while earning the Eagle-required Hiking merit badge! To earn this challenging badge, you’ll need to complete a ton of long-distance hikes. What you learned here will be sure to set you up for success!
Thanks for reading, and for improving your community through Scouting! If you enjoyed learning about how to make troop hikes even better, I’d highly recommend also checking out any of the following resources if they spark your interest:
- Cole’s Epic Ebook The 7 Secrets for Scouting Success 📖 (discount included!)
- BSA Scout Recruiting: A Simple Guide To Growing Your Troop
- The Advantages And Value Of Earning Your Eagle Scout Rank
- Leadership in Scouting: A Scout’s Ultimate Guide
- 67 Epic Scouting Quotes To Keep Scouts Prepared And Inspired
That’s all for now! Come back to ScoutSmarts soon and, until next time, I’m wishing you the best of luck on your Scouting adventures!