PLT Activities Can Now Help Scouts Earn Their Merit Badges

June 28, 2019

Project Learning Tree recently collaborated with the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) to correlate PLT activities to eight Cub Scout Adventures and six Scouts BSA merit badges. These correlations provide Scout leaders with ideas and hands-on, outdoor activities to help support children, ages 5 to 17, with youth development goals. They also help introduce youth to careers in the outdoors, including jobs in forestry and natural resources conservation.

“I first became introduced to PLT when I was volunteering as a troop leader. Immediately I was hooked,” said Jane Thornes when she was a 4th grade teacher at Heyburn Elementary School in St. Maries, Idaho. “The easy-to-follow approach that PLT uses to educate young minds is smart, refreshing, and fun.”

PLT activities are fun. They get kids outside, connect children to nature in meaningful ways, and grow understanding of our environment. The activities are easy to do, with minimal prep time. Many can be conducted in an hour and rely on simple materials that you likely already have on hand.

They also build 21st century skills such as collaboration and teamwork, creativity and imagination, critical thinking and problem solving. In addition, they provide leaders with lots of useful tips for managing active child behavior both indoors and outdoors.


PLT Correlations for Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts

Project Learning Tree activities have been correlated to eight Cub Scout Adventures and six Scouts BSA merit badges.

Cub Scout Adventures

This correlation is designed to assist parents, den leaders, and Cubmasters in helping Cub Scouts (ages 5 to 10) meet the following Adventure requirements. While the PLT lessons referenced will not satisfy all the requirements a Cub Scout must fulfill to secure an Adventure, they will assist leaders in covering over half of the requirements for each of the following:

  • Mountain Lion (Lion)
  • Ready, Set, Grow (Lion)
  • My Tiger Jungle (Tiger)
  • Fur, Feathers, and Ferns (Bear)
  • Grow Something (Wolf)
  • Spirit of the Water (Wolf)
  • Into the Wild (Webelos)
  • Into the Woods (Webelos)

For example, in PLT’s Activity 47 “Are Vacant Lots Vacant?” found in the PreK-8 Guide, Scouts are invited to look closely over one small square and find that plants of all kinds thrive in vacant lots, along with a host of animals including insects, birds, and mammals. This activity transforms a nearby vacant lot, overgrown strip, or a landscaped area into a rich laboratory for Scouts to examine elements of an ecosystem. This activity supports the Tiger “Backyard Jungle” Adventure first requirement of “taking a 1-foot hike.”

BSA Merit Badges

This correlation is designed to assist merit badge counselors and Scoutmasters in helping Scouts (ages 11 to 17) meet the badge requirements for six merit badges. While the PLT lessons referenced will not satisfy all the requirements a Scout must fulfill to secure a Merit Badge, they will assist leaders in covering over half of the requirements for each of the following:

  • Environmental Science
  • Forestry
  • Nature
  • Pulp and Paper
  • Soil and Water Conservation
  • Sustainability

For example, in PLT’s Activity 32 “A Forest of Many Uses” found in the PreK-8 Guide, Scouts are taught how privately and publicly owned forests are managed to provide many different resources. Scouts learn how forests are managed to meet a variety of human and environmental needs. This experiential learning fulfills the Forestry Merit Badge’s Requirement 3.A (2), which necessitates that Scouts can “describe contributions forests make to social well-being.”


World Jamboree, SFI and PLT

The 24th World Scout Jamboree will take place at the Summit Bechtel Reserve from July 22 – August 2. The World Scout Jamboree is organized by the World Organization of the Scout Movement and is typically attended by several tens of thousands of Scouts from around the world, ages 14 to 17.

In 2016, about 13,000 acres of forest at the Summit were certified to the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) Forest Management Standard. Overall, more than 100,000 acres of BSA land is certified to the SFI Forest Management Standard. To learn more, see SFI and Scouts.

SFI and PLT will be at World Scout Jamboree! We’ll have a large tent and will conduct several PLT activities with Scouts each day. We’ll be located at the base of the Sustainability Treehouse, a living education center for visitors to learn about sustainable building practices. Just like a tree, the building itself gets its energy from the sun and recycles its water and waste. Come find us there if you’ll be at World Jamboree!


How to Engage Your Local BSA Council

If you would like to introduce PLT to your local BSA council, we recommend you:

  • Locate your local council by zip code. There are more than 250 local BSA councils across the country. Each is its own nonprofit organization, with its own board, chartered by the national BSA organization. Each council has employees, but many more volunteers.
  • Speak to:
    • Program or Camping Director (employee at council level)
    • Program Chair (volunteer)
  • Ask to present PLT at:
    • Round Table meetings, monthly (district level)
    • University of Scouting, annual (council level) – this is a supplemental training opportunity for adult Scout leaders that many councils host over a full weekend.

We also suggest you contact your state PLT Coordinator for help, especially if a local BSA council is interested in hosting a PLT workshop for its Scout leaders.

You might also want to draw your council’s attention to an opportunity to experience PLT activities at BSA’s National Outdoor Conference, September 25-29, 2019, at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico. Hundreds of Scouters—volunteers and professionals—who deliver outdoor programs at any level will attend the conference. PLT will be there to demonstrate some of our outdoor activities in a session titled “Tackle Merit Badge (and Adventure) Requirements with Award-winning Outdoor Activities” as part of the conference Workshop Electives.

Vanessa Bullwinkle

Vanessa Bullwinkle

Vanessa Bullwinkle is Director of Communications & Marketing for Project Learning Tree.