Scouting and Special Needs Children: Hiking–Crossing Streams

Image shows a line of girls crossing a stream on rocks.

Hiking is a common activity for scouts to do when camping.  Sometimes, special needs children are left out of this scouting activity because it is considered too difficult for them.  On many trails, for example, you will find streams to cross.  This is a lot of fun, but can be challenging for special needs children.  Many of these children have trouble with balance, judging distances, and motor skill planning.  With some practice, however, they can learn to cross streams successfully without getting wet or hurt.  “Scouting and Special Needs Children:  Hiking–Crossing Streams” will give you some ideas for teaching this skill.  These activities will help all the children in your troop be more successful on their hikes.

Here’s a fun activity that can be made more and more challenging as your children learn.   Create a pretend stream bed in your meeting area and have them try to cross it without stepping in the stream.  For the very beginning hikers, you can have them place construction paper stepping stones on the floor.  Secure them with painter’s blue tape or something else that can be easily removed.

Image shows a girl balancing on paper shapes taped to a floor to make an imaginary stream.

You can have the children cut out and decorate their own stones or just use a variety of shapes you have already prepared.  Make the course fairly wide, just like a real stream.  Change the placement of the stones as needed to increase the difficulty of the task.

When they have practiced with paper rocks, you can head outside to use real stones.  At this point, increase the difficulty by having some of the stones be wobbly and uneven.  You can even stack them just as they would be in nature.

Image shows a girl walking across stones outdoors.

Be sure to move things around and let them change the stream bed fairly often so the activity doesn’t get boring.  You can have teams challenge each other to see who can come up with the most difficult course and still cross it.

Since you will be moving stones around outside, it is a good idea to teach children about the safe way to turn over a rock.  In Texas and many other parts of the world, we have some nasty critters that live under rocks, including scorpions and stinging fuzzy caterpillars (asps).  Teach children never to grab a rock with their bare hands, especially in the summer months.  The best approach is to use a stick to flip the rock over.  When you are doing this, flip the rock so that it rolls over towards you.  This is counter-intuitive, but you want whatever is under the rock to head away from you.  If you flip the rock away from you, the critter will head straight for your legs, which could be exciting.

Have fun with the Scouting and Special Needs Children series!


© 2013, Margaret. All rights reserved.


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