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CUB SCOUT CORNER Don’t Miss the Boat

Turn trash into treasured memories with a recycle regatta.

WHEN PACK 722’S Bear den leader was called out of town on business last spring, Committee Chairman Jeff Crump had to find a substitute activ- ity. Fast. He didn’t need to look any farther than the pack’s supply closet and his own recycling bin. Using an idea he’d read about online, the Wakefield, Mass., Scouter ran his first recycle regatta. What’s a recycle regatta? It’s much

like a raingutter regatta—the sailing equivalent of the pinewood derby— except boys make their boats from recycled materials instead of kits. “We didn’t want to have to rely on prefab- ricated kits,” Crump says. “Those are fun to build, but they don’t get you engaged. Boys like to build stuff and tinker and play.” In a den e-mail, Crump asked

families to bring along building materials from their recycling bins, which he supplemented with addi- tional supplies, including some leftover foam insulation, duct tape, and glue. The pack already had two sections of 10-foot gutter designed for use in regattas. “It took about 15 minutes to put together the whole plan,” he says. A big believer in fun that matters,

Crump began the meeting with some quick lessons about trash. He asked the boys to guess how long products like plastic water bottles take to bio- degrade—one boy guessed a couple of weeks, but the real answer is 450 years—and then had them sort recy- clables by their symbols. Once the learning ended, the

real fun began. The boys made their boats on one side of the room and then carried them to the gutters to


compete in informal two-man heats. After that, they could race again, go back and tweak their boats, or (like Crump’s son) start over. “I thought that they would want to make these boats and race them to see who was the fastest,” Crump says. “It turned out that they had the most fun just making them.” Tony Hooker, Cubmaster of Pack 704 in Concord, N.C., had much the same experience when he ran a pack- wide recycle regatta at a local park last spring. “We didn’t keep score, and we didn’t have any trophies or prizes,” he says. “It was all for fun.” Hooker did slip in a little learn-

ing, though. A few minutes into the race, he stopped the boys to

point out how much fun they were having—not with new toys or expen- sive videogames, but with trash. “I encouraged them to think outside the box about ways they could do fun stuff with things that are already around,” he says. Unlike Crump, Hooker didn’t

have any gutters, so he had to pur- chase them. Two 10-foot-sections plus end caps cost the pack less than $25 at Lowe’s. “In comparison to a pinewood derby track, that’s very inexpensive,” he says.

VISIT recycleregatta for a list of recy- clables you can gather at home for your next pack recycle regatta.


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