A guaranteed winner for a troop activity is giving each patrol a set of materials and have them compete on building something. We’ve had countless duct tape challenges in our Troop – that is probably the most common. But an often overlooked scouting material is Tyvek.
Tyvek is probably most known in two applications: FedEx shipping pouches and underlayment in house construction. This is good because there is a ready supply – for free. FedEx envelopes are free at your local shipping center (UPS and USPS use them, too) and every troop I’ve known has at least 2 dads who are general contractors/carpenters. (My troop currently has 7.) They use Tyvek like crazy and can easily get you some scrap pieces for scout exercises. They can also provide you with some Tyvek tape or pick some up a Home Depot. Add paracord, sticks or dowel rods for the frame, and some ingenuity and a scout patrol can build a pretty fancy Backpack. Use the various sized FedEx envelopes for outside pockets. Seams can be sewn using extra strong thread and then sealed with Tyvek tape – if they want to go that far.
I keep a 12×12 piece of Tyvek handy as a free and versatile tarp. It is comparatively strong for its light weight and is easily replaceable if it tears. It makes a great protective underlay for your tent floor since it can easily be cut to the perfect size. And it makes a great rain fly. Rather than grommets, use the “rock-wrapped-in-paracord” method to tie down the Tyvek. However, a great improvement is to use a golf-ball rather than a rock – no sharp edges, much lighter, easy to pack, and don’t need to rely on available rocks where you camp.