Scouts Canada (the country’s leading co-ed youth organization) lives by the approach ‘At Scouts, we say yes when others say no.’ This March 24th (On Canada’s first Kids Yes Day), Scouts Canada wants parents to say YES to kids’ requests for fun activities that—without a plan—may seem crazy(ish) at first glance, even slightly risky. Volunteer Scouters have offered solid pro tips and hacks to support families in bringing their kids’ zany ideas to life in a way that is age and skill appropriate, safe and most importantly—fun for both the kids and parents!
When parents start with ‘yes, and’ to their kids’ ideas, their child is empowered to take the lead, explore new skills and discover their thing. In preparation for Kids Yes Day, Scouts Canada surveyed a focus group of 145 youth (between the ages of 5 and 14) and 368 parent members to determine what activities Canadian kids wish their parents would say ‘yes’ to.
What Kids Want:
When asked which activities they wanted to do the most, kids had many creative responses:
- 55% want to blow stuff up
- 50% want to do extreme outdoor activities (like winter camping, paddling to remote sites or staying a night in the woods alone)
- 44% of kids want to light fireworks
- 44% want to fly an airplane (or spaceship!)
- 42% want to do ‘wacky science experiments.’
- 41% want to ride a dirt bike
- 40% want to get close to a lion or other animal (some even want to pet them.)
- 36% would like to light a fire themselves
Kids’ Craziest ideas:
- “Follow a bear to its lair.”
- “Juggle daggers.”
- “Trap a wild animal, pat it … and bring it home.”
How to pre-empt potential parental panic:
Don’t knee-jerk a ‘no’ to your kids’ ideas. Find ways to come up with equally fun, modified activities with your kids…
Scouts Canada suggests it’s important to talk to your kids and find out what the most interesting part of the activity is to them. If it’s blowing things up? Do they love the BOOM sound? Is it the visual part they love? Is it seeing what’s left of an exploding object?
Identify obstacles, plan ahead, set safe parameters, and set yourself up to problem-solve in real time.
Most importantly, find a pivot idea that helps your kids still experience the ‘main draw’ in a safe, practical way that is age and skill appropriate.
“While parents may have reasonable concerns about cost, time or even mess, there’s no reason that a version of adventure-based requests can’t be done in a completely safe way,” said Mike Eybel, a volunteer Scouter of nine years with Scouts Canada and father of two. “Scouts start from a place of yes; youth can take the lead in coming up with the ideas, planning and actioning them with volunteer Scouters there to support them along the way. This gives youth the opportunity to develop confidence, problem-solving skills and the ability to assess and manage risk for future adventures. Kids Yes Day brings these benefits and pro-tips to all youth in Canada; we’re hoping it catches on for years to come.”
To jumpstart the yes’s, Scouts Canada has curated suggestions on how to keep things safe for some of the most popular kid ‘asks’.
1. Kabooms for kids
Make sure that you start small! There are lots of completely safe ways to deliver explosive excitement, such as:
- Colour Burst kaboom: You’ll want to Enjoy this ‘exploding lunch bag’ activity outside.
- Erupting Soap: Easy and affordable to do indoors with a microwave, minimal mess and all the fun ‘pop!’
- Kaleidoscope Volcano: A colourful twist on the classic ‘lavapalooza’.
- Blast-off Rocket: Power up your thrusters! How high into the sky can you launch it?
- Watermelon Bomb: How many elastic bands does it take to make this big fruit go ‘boom’?
- Magical Fire: Don’t just light a campfire—add a ‘spark’ of fun!
Scouter Certified Hacks:
- Don’t forget to wear eye protection like goggles.
- Ditch the apron and wear something white when making colourful items explode & splatter— it’ll be a fun souvenir!
- Add a twist to your classic, explosive science experiments by adding a splash of colour to the ingredients.
- DIY fire starters to get your campfire going easily and quickly.
- Wild Things
- Instead of winter camping, do a Snow Fort Sleepover. Build a quinzhee with snow in your backyard, and use winter gear for a super fun night outside!
- Rather than diving into a solo night hike, have your kid(s) lead the way on a night hike while the parents hang behind, using walkie-talkies to keep in touch; your child gets to feel the independence of ‘going it alone’, knowing support is nearby if needed.
- Meet the animals: Visit a conservation area, rehabilitation centre or local animal shelter as an introduction to wildlife. Explain that petting is only allowed in clearly marked places and with adult supervision.
- Depending on your kid(s)’ level of experience, remote camping can be worked towards in stages. Do a dry run before embarking on the real thing!
Scouter Certified Hacks:
- New to camping and finding trails? Try these apps to locate hiking and camping destinations near you and tips!
- Gear isn’t cheap. Try renting from a retail outlet or borrowing from friends.
- Winter camping hacks, here
- Stay Sharp
- Dagger Daredevil: Build prop daggers to juggle and kid-friendly ‘axes’ to throw.
- Carving Master: For kid(s) age 7 & under, pick up new carving skills by starting with a nylon knife and hard soap instead of wood (use gloves with a studded grip, as soap can be slippery).
- Mega-Fort: Don’t have access to power tools or the skills to supervise safely? Skip the tools and make an awesome A-frame fort using joints and rope lashing, or cardboard castles!
Scouter Certified Hacks:
- To make your prop feel realistic, tape coins or other household objects to the item for added weight.
- Knife Safety Tip: For youth ages 8+ who are using real knives for carving, check out our safety tips here.
- Fort variations using different materials and skill levels, here.
EXTEND YOUR ADVENTURE WITH THESE ADDITIONAL ACTIVITIES & SAFETY TIPS:
- Explore 150+ activity ideas for all ages on Scouts Canada’s Activity Finder.
- Catch helpful Safety Tips from the Scouts Canada experts here.