Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Air of the Wolf

This is a great summertime adventure! 

We started with choosing Air Experiments- (Comparing variations in the shape of wings through the air, and Variations in the Volume of Air)
A. Make a paper airplane and fly it five times. Try to make it fly farther by altering its shape. Fly it at least five more times to see if your changes were effective.  This makes a great gathering activity.  We had fun comparing completely different shapes of airplanes.  I would recommend having airplanes all folded that the boys can color and write their names on.  Then they can really focus on the adjusting the shape of the plane rather than getting burnt out on the folding part.  Finally, hope a windstorm doesn't kick up at exactly the time you want to test the planes like happened to us!  If it does, you'll have to fly the planes indoors and that is a bit chaotic!

B. Make a balloon-powered sled- I bought balloons for sleds, but then realized with my special needs den they wouldn't be able to blow up the balloons, so we improvised and used stomp rockets to accomplish the same experiment.  Instead of varying the size of the balloon, we varied the size of the bottle on the stomp rocket.  I'm not sure this variation counts so we did C as well just to be sure.  The rockets took too long to make.  A den leader in another pack told me she always has the rockets pre-made and the boys just decorate.  I think that is a good idea since the focus here is experimenting with air, not rocket building.
building the launcher 
we used 16oz, 2 liter, and 3 liter bottle attachments
rocket is just over the roof in this picture
pretty good air for just a little bottle!
C. Bounce a basketball that doesn’t have enough air in it. Then bounce one that has the right amount of air in it. Do each one 10 times. Describe how the ball bounces differently when the amount of air changes.  I had the balls sitting inside my house as the boys arrived and they just automatically started bouncing them when they walked in.  This experiement is easy to do with boys.

Bonus: For treats we made popcorn using a hot air popper.

Air and Sound Experiment and a Fun Air Activity
For the gathering we launched rockets a few more times and  bounced balls.  Repeating requirements is good in the summer because someone is gone every den meeting and it helps more boys earn the badge.

C. With an adult, conduct an investigation on how speed can affect sound.

I made a simple bull roars with string taped to a wide craft stick and then let the boys swing them.

E. With your den participate in a rain gutter regatta. Explain how air helps the vehicle move.

We made boats with pool noodles, shish kabob sticks, and foam sails.  At first we tried using straws for the mast instead of shish kabob sticks and that did not work well.  We did our boat races fairly quickly and then played in the water the rest of the den meeting.  I warned the boys before den meeting that there would be water and they might get wet.  You can make rain gutters with tin foil.  You can also put one of the tin foil river rain gutters on a hill and let the boys play with floating things down stream.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Wolf Running With The Pack

For several of the boys in my den, physical activities are a challenge.  Therefore, I wanted to disguise the activities in such a way that they wouldn't realize they were doing the fitness badge.  However, by contrast, when I taught this badge last year, the boys asked me why none of the requirements for the "Running" badge were running!  Good question, eh?  I had them run some foot races and they loved it.  What a great lesson in adapting to the den you have.

Requirement #1

Play catch with someone in your den or family who is standing 10 steps away from you. Play until you can throw and catch successfully at this distance. Take a step back, and see if you can improve your throwing and catching ability.

For this one we did a teddy bear toss as a gathering activity to work on the catching ability.  One of my boys who had never really caught anything in his life was very successful, I told him to catch the bear in a hug and he never missed a catch for the whole time we played, it was awesome!

The next week for gathering we did water bombing.  I let the boys throw these water bombs three times each and see if they could get farther each time.  The boys that would normally go hide when it was time to play catch were begging for more turns!  It was really a personal challenge because the water bombs left wet splotches marking how far they had thrown and it encouraged them to try again and see if they could beat themselves.  The ability levels varied so much that the boys focused on beating themselves.

bucket of water and homemade sponge water bombs
the Yoga ball made an irrestible "balance" activity and the red circle in the sky is a water bomb sailing across the street.
Most of the boys and I could only throw to the end of the driveway.

Requirement #2

Practice balancing as you walk forward, backward, and sideways.

Requirement #3
Practice flexibility and balance by doing a front roll, a back roll, and a frog stand.

Requirement #4
Play a sport or game with your den or family, and show good sportsmanship.

One of the boys in our den hosted a whole den meeting where we played ping pong.  It worked well, we started just trying to hit the ball and work up to trying to return the ball and then to taking turns with a partner.  
I don't have any pictures, but this one from Croation Martyrs Parish Youth Group looks a lot like us:)
A few of our boys missed the ping pong activity, but they had a great activity to show good sportsmanship with this jousting game at day camp!  
  Requirement #5
Do at least two of the following: frog leap, inchworm walk, kangaroo hop, or crab walk.

This activity was several days before Mother's Day, so we played "Mother May I".  I made this game with two paper plates and an improvised brad made out of a twist tie.  You secretly spin it each turn so the boys don't know how many steps each animal will earn.  I divided the boys into two teams and each team's turn the boys would say, "Mother May I... crab walk, (or inchworm walk, frog leap,or kangaroo hop)?"  Then I would reveal how many steps they got.  
I just had to laugh that my Running with the Pack pictures and my Reebok Ragnar pictures were all lumped together on my computer.   I did a lot of "Running with the Pack" (12 person relay) myself while the cubs were working on this badge.  This is the finish line at the Cape Cod Ragnar.  I did a post on Ragnar and it got accidentally deleted, I hope to rewrite it, but for now this is it.

Requirement #6

Demonstrate what it means to eat a balanced diet by helping to plan a healthy menu for a meal for your family. Make a shopping list of the food used to prepare the meal.

I take exception to the meal planning guide, since it seems to be designed by lobbyists.  Also since the government of each country has a different plan--how can you say which country is right?  So, I just came up with a basic meal planner based on scriptures, which seems pretty safe and untrendy.

Fruit and Veggies: I explained that the reason the vegetable part of the plate was the biggest is that vegetables take a lot of room (think a dinner salad, a pile of broccoli, or corn on the cob).  We usually don't have fruit with dinner at my house, but if you had a slice of watermelon with dinner, that also takes up a lot of space on the plate.

Water: I explained that all healthy eating should include plenty of water and NOT fruit juice and soda.  I explained that if they like to have milk with their dinner that is a protein and to put that in the protein section of their meal plan.  Fruit juice is fine to have, but it since it is all sugar, it really goes in the dessert category!  We have it for special occasions, but not for promoting health.

Protein:  I talked about how dinner doesn't always have to be meat, for example cheese, beans, seeds, and nuts can all count for the protein.  For example, Cheese pizza, bean burritoes, chilli with beans, hummus, or peanutbutter all have some protein.  The boys hadn't heard of protein, so this was a great time to introduce the concept.

Grains:  The boys also didn't know what this was, but it was great to learn.  I am gluten free, so I use a huge variety of grains in my diet and I think potatoes fit well on this part of the plate even though obviously not a grain.

Instructions: Draw or write your Healthy Meal Plan on this plate!

The boys did a great job on this.  Then we planned and made another healthy meal of sorts.  They got to choose the fruit assortment to go in three smoothies.  I put a handful of spinach and carrots in one to make it a super healthy green smoothie meal! One had a lot of bananas and blueberries and turned out purple it was our brain food smoothie.  The last one had a lot of pineapple and strawberry and mango and it turned out orange, great for vitamins!  We served up all-you-can-eat samples in dixie cups.  Most of the boys tried the green smoothie and were surprised to find that it was nearly as sweet and yummy as the fruit smoothies.  We had tons of smoothie left over, so smoothie is what my family actually did get for dinner that night!  No pictures, but here is one from my archives.  Kid's love smoothies, even green ones.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Wolf Finding Your Way Adventure

Our first den meeting for this geography badge was Pirate Day.

Gathering.  I had a few maps of our town and neighborhood and they had to find their house.  The neighborhood one was the most useful because with only 100 houses, they could all find their houses easily.  The city map blew them away it was so big although some of the boys had a good time looking at it and finding large things like the high school and fair grounds.  Then they started their pirate map.  I had made a den map example with my house and each boy's house marked.  Their assignment was to make a map showing how to get to den meeting.

Cub Scout maps often don't look much like maps.  To make it funner we did pirate maps.
I provided brown crinkly paper: brown water color wash, crumble (this makes it hard to write on perhaps skip this unless you are willing to iron the paper flat again) , burn edges.
I provided a stencil of our neighborhood to help because last time we did maps the boys struggled so much.  The blocks of houses looked like islands on our pirate maps.  The boys liked the map stencils a lot, it made this so much easier for them.  One creative scout colored the streets blue to look like rivers.  He marked each scout's home with an initial.  To finish I encouraged them to draw a compass rose and legend, although not all of them did.  We did find them on real maps and discussed them.

Last we played  with an iPad compass and learned how to use it to locate our very own pirate treasure!

Den Meeting #2
Snack Day (snacks are an optional requirement, but of course do this one if you have time!)
For our second den meeting we had a snack potluck party.
For the gathering we figured out where each snack had come from and located it on Google earth.  We talked about which ones were from far away and which ones were close to home.  

Activity #1 we played Compass Eye Spy.  One scout would leave the room and the others would choose an object.  Then when the other scout came back we told him what direction to face to look for it using the compass directions.

Activity #2 we played a "Life Size Map" game.  This is an old family birthday party favorite that I added to the den meeting to get the boys playing together and hungry for their snacks.  I give the boys a starting and ending point for their map pathway and they have to build it using objects from my garage.  However they are not allowed to touch the grass.  They must stay on their path hopping from object to object at all times as they go back and forth from the garage to the end of their path!  I have two teams building a path at a time to see who can make the most creative path the quickest.   Below you see the path they had to build and pictures of things in my garage.  I watch in the garage to make sure they get appropriate items and the other leader watches the paths to make sure they stay on their path and don't walk on the grass to add new stepping stones!  Sometimes I add things to my garage in advance to help get them started.
starting at my driveway ending at the playhouse in the back yard.
about one third of the way there.
jackets, sports bag, toy boxes, and pails
here are some stepping stones the boys could have located in my garage.
a bike on its side could be used this would be hard, but a long stepping stone
a camping chair could be a stepping stone or the life jackets underneath it
they could use the cooler for a stepping stone if they sat on it to get across it. 
the red blanket is a super easy stepping stone
lots of cardboard and plywood  work well too.
Finally the boys got to eat their snacks from around the world!

Den Meeting #3
A hike in the neighborhood or hills, lets the boys use their compass and map skills one more time!

Couch to Ragnar

I loved running in the Reebok Ragnar Cape Cod.  Definitely in my top ten fun things I've ever done.
My husband was invited to join the team the last week of July at a family reunion, but he had never run before.  We started training the first week of August.  I have five kids, so running a Ragnar on the other side of the country was not a possibility for me, but after training for a month I decided I wanted to go to Ragnar no matter what and we made it happen.
Me and my husband July 2016~Florida
I was nervous about getting injured running, neither of us had done much physical activity since becoming parents 14 years ago.

We learned that to become "runners" gradually, we should do run/walk intervals and increase them gradually over a six-month period of time and then we should spend six months building up a solid base with hour long runs three times a week.  It would take about one year to safely become "runners".  In addition we were cautioned to do exercises to strengthen the weak muscles to prevent injury (core work, runner's strength exercises).  Well we only had 9 months, but our captain, my brother, assured us we weren't required to "race" at Ragnar, just to have the ability to run the distance of our longest leg which would be about 6 miles.  After our first workout which included about 3 minutes total running that seemed almost impossible, but we decided to give it our best shot.

We committed to running three times a week and I don't think my husband missed a workout all year long except one day when he was injured.  In fact, in October he worked out five times a week on a treadmill when he was out of town and sometime in December he started cross training twice a week.  I missed one or two workouts, but was also very consistent.  We started running early in the mornings in the dark (great practice for the Ragnar night run!).  While my husband was out of town, I started running in the afternoons at parks with my kids.  In November we started running the paved river trail close to our house after my husband got home from work.  It was tough to beat the sunset which got noticeably earlier every day!  I think my husband was hurting a lot the first few weeks, but after that we both really enjoyed our runs.  Everytime I got to the last few steps of a run I felt so sad that it would be 48 whole hours before I could run again.  My kids thought this was funny, but I've heard other runners say the same thing.  Running was a great meditation.  My husband never ran with music.  I occasionally did recorded books on long runs, but I also enjoyed quiet runs.

Four months had gone by and my husband was still nowhere near six miles.  I was just barely getting to the six mile mark.  I timed my 10K pace and came up with 10:21 per mile.  My husband was about 13:30 per mile, but not going a full 10K yet.  Fearing we would never be able to run far enough, we went off our training schedule and pushed up our speed and mileage too fast.

INJURY!  Of course.  My husband got hip bursitis and was sidelined from running.  I got online and ordered Aquajogging belts which thanks to Amazon Prime arrived two days later.  We joined a gym and took our runs into the water for the next month.  I think aqua jogging is a great thing, because in January when we started running on the indoor track we were still in great shape.

My husband's hip bursitis was still bothering him after a month of aqua jogging and I read that it was an inflammation injury, so I talked him into doing a detox for the month of January that promised to radically reduce inflammation.  I really liked the detox because it did work on the inflammation-immediately.  It also gave us more energy and encouraged us to eat healthier.  The habits we learned stuck with us long after the detox and were good for our kids as well.  My husband lost 17lbs and I lost 5lbs.  We liked the detox so well we decided to repeat it in April right before the race.  My husband lost another 17lbs and I lost 5lbs.   In all my husband lost 60lbs in our race training and I lost 10lbs.

During the January through April part of our training, we were running 50-75 minute runs three or four times a week, so we started running into overuse injuries.  I was still as paranoid as ever that we would be injured when Ragnar rolled around.  We found a lot of helps though.  Compression socks are great for shin splints and feel good after a long run whether you are injured or not.  Get rid of cotton socks to avoid blisters.  Rotate running shoes to avoid having the exact same impact every time you run.  Don't always run the same direction on a track.  Try a treadmill for winter workouts.  Do core workouts and IT band workouts often.  Use a muscle roller or a foam roller on tight muscles to speed recovery. Warm-up for at least 12 minutes before running fast.  Do a dynamic stretch before each run.  Buy a GymBoss interval timer so you can do run/walk intervals without watching the clock.  Don't try to run without walk intervals, they are great insurance against injury.  My husband had Plantar Fasciitis issues in the weeks leading up to Ragnar.  He bought a massage ball and massaged his foot while he worked.  Then I worked on the tight spots every night on his calves with a muscle roller (which was causing the Plantar issues) and on his feet.  Deep and frequent calf and foot massage was the key to his quick recovery.  I struggled with IT band issues and I did an IT band strength routine every other day to rehabilitate that injury.  I think we would have avoided a lot of injury by slowing down and going more gradually, but who wants to do that?

In the days leading up to Ragnar we realized that since we always ran at 5am, we needed to experiment with running at other times in the day.  The temperatures vary a bit throughout the day.  The trickiest thing was timing food and water when running at other times in the day and deciding how to dress for different temperatures.  Also, we watched the weather closely and practiced at a range of temperatures, especially cold.  Ragnar was predicted to be cold and rainy this year, so we wanted to be prepared for that.  In the end we were both ready and healthy when race day came, what a relief!  Also, it didn't rain!  Due to a lot of weight lost, steady training, the low altitude, and cold weather, my mile paces at Ragnar were 8:45, 8:30, and 9:00.  Dwight's were between 10:30 and 11:00.  In our training, sometime between February and May 12, a transformation in our running occurred.  Suddenly, 3-4 mile runs started seeming too short.  5-6 mile runs were easy and 7-8 mile runs were a fun challenge.  I wanted to graduate from run/walking to running the entire time, but I discovered in my training that I ran much faster miles with run/walk intervals, so for safety and speed reasons I stuck with that plan.

My brother was right about Ragnar.  You don't need to "race", just get out there and run your distance at whatever pace works for you.  If you run slow, every single person who passes you will cheer you on.  If you get injured while running, even more people cheer you on.  If you run really fast you can paint it on your van and claim bragging rights, it is all good.  There were a lot of people who run/walk like us, so that wasn't a problem.  Since there are 18 legs of the race for our van, plus the exchanges with the other van, it felt like a tournament with one big event after another.  Each leg had its own personality and was very exciting to me.  Some runners want to reach a certain time goal.  Some runners hate running, but just want to overcome something huge, some runners run to entertain, some runners run for a special cause, some runners get injured and still manage to finish the leg, some runners go so much faster than predicted that they beat their team to the next exchange and sadly have no one there to congratulate them on an astounding run (my husband). I was moved by each story of each leg.  I guess I was just curious how I would run since it was my first real race (except a small time 5K run/walk in Albuquerque many years ago).  After my first leg, a guy came up to me and said "I was right behind you when we started and I was sure I would pass you, but I never could"  That made my day!  Also, I guess my first Ragnar was pretty pampered as we had a nice little beach cottage to sleep and shower at while the other van was running. 
May 12, 2017~Cape Cod
Decorating the Van
Our Van
Goofing off before we start the race, 7 of us
including Marv our super awesome driver!
We actually didn't get picked in the lottery for this race,
but were picked up by an amazing team who did.  They were Van #1 and we were Van #2
This Ragnar was run in memory of Eliza, Sarah's sister who died in a car accident July 2017.
Her favorite color was "glitter", or if she was really pressed "pink"
My husband gets the slap bracelet for his first leg

My last few steps of my first leg, I found a glittery shirt to wear for Eliza.
Waiting at the top of a nice hill for my brother on his first leg.  His third leg started in sand and also ended at the top of a 
hill, sometimes, Ragnar is really tough.
just finished everyone's first leg and the team pizza dinner,
now back to the cottage to do major muscle rolling and get some sleep.
Finished our first legs and showered.  Then we finally found a restaurant open (after three tries) and their pizza was good! (So I'm told, since I'm gluten free, my tuna salad was awesome, I liked the dressing so much the restaurant offered to send a bottle home with me, but sadly I didn't think it would fly well.)

This was 2am, second leg, but it just didn't feel late at all!
Ragnar volunteers dress up too, I love it,
when I complimented this guy, he posed for the camera!
Here is my brother running his night leg!  I loved the night run.
Watching all the blinky lights was surreal and mesmerizing.

Here is my husband getting ready for Leg 3 where he will run a 10:30 mile pace uphill and beat me to the exchange!
Rockin' the race
last steps of Leg 3!
Truro Beach, a beautiful exchange!
Waiting at exchange 35, one leg left to go.
The wilder the outfit the bigger the smile
Shark costume!
This guy had a purple mohawk and shirt for Leg 2, this is Leg 3 and I had to get the superman shirt picture since my son wears a superman shirt almost every day but laundry day.
yep, Sarah had to run part of her leg through soft sand and so did my brother David.
finish line!