Scouts love gross stuff. And there are lots of important things to discuss as it relates to parasites that they may encounter in the wild. Rotate scouts through these stations for a fun and useful experience. The internet is ripe with background data on each.
- Ticks and Lyme’s disease – Any scout who makes First Class but never gotten a tick has missed something. For my troop in Connecticut, Lyme’s disease is a major concern and worthy of an entire troop meeting by itself. Thing to discuss and demonstrate:
- How to remove a tick. There are videos on how to do this. And your local camping store will sell gadgets to do it.
- How to identify deer ticks and early signs of Lyme’s disease. See this link for great resources: http://www.tickencounter.org/ticksmart/toilet_check_cards
- Long term effects of Lyme’s disease.
- Mange Disease – we usually think of this in dogs but often it is the owner who is diagnosed first. Dogs usually get mange from wild animals and often transmit it to their owners when they pet the dog. (My vet diagnosed it in ME many years ago and then treated my dog; he sent me to my doctor for a prescription.)
- Lice. Our schools do a pretty decent job with lice education so I wouldn’t repeat too extensively in the troop meeting. Just a quick refresher to not share hats and be aware of the symptoms.
- Leaches. These can be particularly fun in a troop meeting. If you have the right pond or stream, you can capture some of them and show them attach to a raw chicken leg. There are a lot of bad advice lore on leaches (removing with salt, etc.) So good to review proper procedures for removing them on countless web sites. There are also myths about leaches spreading disease which is not true. Eventually one of your scouts will get a leach and will bleed profusely when it is removed. Nice for them to know ahead of time they aren’t going to die.
- There may be other parasites that are common in your location that you should incldue. But this should get you started.
The “ewww!” factor is very high for these discussions which means scouts have fun and retain what they learn.
To remind, plant this idea with your SPL and let them PLC run with it. (If your default is for parents to lead this, YOU GOT BIGGER ISSUES.)