Ten-year-old boys and trees are natural companions.  To these boys a tree is good for climbing, swinging from or building a tree house.  Through the Forester Activity Badge it is hoped that the boys' appreciation for tress may be expanded.  In earning the badge, the boy may learn how trees grow, or how to identify them., or how to plant and care for them.  Hopefully, he will learn how important a role they play as one of our natural resources. 125,000 forest fires are started each year by careless people.  The Webelos Scouts should learn how to prevent becoming a part of that statistic.  Later, when he becomes a Scout, the boy may wish to continue the study of trees with a Forestry Merit Badge.  It is certain he will spend a lot of time in the woods; hiking, camping and adventuring.  This is just the beginning of his lifelong friendship with trees.  He should learn not to use his knife or axe on live trees; the difference between green and dry wood; and which is best for campfires.

If this is the only badge you are working on and you want to have something for the boys to be doing on their own, suggest a leaf sample collection where they collect a leaf, a sample of the seed, and if possible, a piece of the bark.  Lay them out on a sheet of paper and glue them down with white glue.  Then they can write the name and description of the tree and the location and date the sample was collected.  Make sure the leaves are pressed first.

Another project you can do with trees is to check pollution from the book Science Projects in Pollution by Seymore Simon.

Coat two index cards with a thin coat of Vaseline. Pin one of the cards to the trunk of a large tree. Pin the other card to a near-by place that is not shielded from above by leaves. After a few days remove the cards and examine them with a magnifying glass. Which card has more pollution particles and do the particles on one card differ from those on the other card? What does this show?

With a den of boys this can be done over an entire neighborhood, and a pollution chart of the neighborhood can be drawn up to show where high pollution areas are.


  1. Collect leaves for identification. Boys could mount them or make leaf prints.
  2. Bring a log to den meeting or find a tree stump and have the boys count the annual rings to determine the age of the tree. See if they can tell something about the kind of weather -dry or wet spells – through which the tree lived by looking at the rings.
  3. Visit a lumber yard or saw mill. A local lumber dealer can help the boys by furnishing wood samples for their collections.
  4. Check the local forester about advice on planting projects and seedlings.
  5. Plant a tree.
  6. Make a tree survey in your area.
  7. Ask a fireman or forest ranger to tell the boys about wildfire and how to control it.
  8. Teach the boys to measure tree diameter and height.
  9. Check with a local conservationist for advice on planting project and seedlings.
  10. For a long-term project, adopt a tree and keep a diary on it. Measure its girth, estimate its height, record when it buds, when it loses its leaves, and other interesting things.
  11. Make a tree identification kit for your den from strips of bark, leaves or needles and cones or seeds.


We sometimes forget just how important trees are in our lives.  Trees:


Grow A Sock

Collecting seeds and nuts is a natural activity in the fall.  However, a collector often overlooks many seeds because they are small or hard to recognize.  An entertaining way to collect some hard to find seeds is to take a sock walk.  Previously unnoticed seeds will be easily collected and as a bonus, one method of seed dispersal will become very obvious.  Things You Can Use: Long socks with fuzzy outer surfaces to which seeds will stick (i.e. adult knee socks).

What To Do

  1. Dress each Webelos in knee high socks.
  2. Go for a walk through a densely vegetated area.  An empty lot overgrown with weeds would be excellent.
  3. Return to your meeting place and look at the socks!  Then take them off.
  4. Wet the entire sock, and place it in a cake pan placed on a slant.  Fill the lower portion of the pan with water so that the sock remains wet.
  5. Put the pan in a warm place and watch the seeds sprout.

Want To Do More?

Pull the seeds off the socks.  Sort and place them into cups by type.  Allow them to dry.  Divide each cup of seeds in half.  Place one half in a freezer for 2 weeks.  This is to simulate winter.  Some plants won’t grow without freezing.  Next, plant seeds from both halves in “seedbed”.

Take sock walks at different seasons.  Which seeds are harder to remove?  Do some hurt you?  Can animals help seeds find new places to grow?  Glue samples on cards to develop a seed collection.  Repot sprouts and grow them to full size.  What other ways does nature have of spreading seeds around (e.g. winged seeds-by-wind, berry seeds-by birds)?  Plants with fur carried seeds need animals to make sure they are widely spread.  Do you think the plants do something to help animals in return (provide food, shelter)?


Leaf Collections

Dry Leaf Collections-Put each leaf between a separate sheet of newspaper.  Put several fold of newspaper on top of and underneath the sheets you are using to press the leaves.  Put something heavy on top until the leaves are pressed out and dry.


Crayon Print

Lay a leaf on the table with vein side up.  Put a clean sheet of paper on top of it.  Hold the leaf in place with your hand and make parallel strokes back and forth over the leaf with your crayon until the print shows on your paper.


Inkpad Leaf Prints

Put a leaf, vein side down, on your inkpad.  Cover it with a piece of newspaper and rub your hand back and forth over it.  Then put the leaf, ink side down, on a clean sheet of paper.  Put a newspaper over it again and rub.


Paraffin Coated Leaves

Melt paraffin in a double boiler.  When it is melted, turn off the heat.  Dip one leaf at a time into the melted wax.  Shake off the extra drops of wax into the pan.  Hold the leaf until the wax hardens, then lay it on waxed paper.  Using this method, you can get the leaves in their green color, or the brilliant colors of autumn.

What Wood Would You Use?

Match the products on the left to the appropriate tree on the right.

Baseball bats, tool handles redwood
Furniture, lumber, barrels black walnut
Paper, soft lumber (derby cars) pines
Gunstocks, cabinets maples
Bowling alley lanes ashes
Lumber for outdoor decks oaks


Measuring The Height Of Trees


Some Native Americans had a very interesting way of doing this.  To see how high a tree was, they would find a spot where, looking under their legs, they could just see the top of the tree.  The distance from such a spot to the base of the tree was approximately the height of the tree.  Why does this work?  The reason is quite simple.  For a normal, healthy adult, the angle formed by looking under one’s legs is approximately 45 degrees.  Hence, the distance to the tree must be around the same as the height of the tree.


Bird House


  1. Measure and mark 3-inches from the bottom all around the empty milk carton.  Cut into two pieces, saving both the top and the bottom.
  2. Cut a two-inch circle in the middle front of the top piece.  Cut the bottom piece down to 1-inch high.  Put some glue on all four sides of the bottom piece on the outside.  Push the bottom piece into the bottom of the top piece, making a new base for the milk carton.  Glue pour spout closed.  Paint the outside of the milk carton in a dark color.  This will help the spaces you will have between the sticks and help them blend in.  Set aside to dry.
  3. Gather lots of thin, straight sticks.  Thicker sticks will go faster but you may need a handsaw or pruning sheers to cut sticks to size.  Thinner sticks can be broken to size.
  4. Poke a hole through the middle of the top ridge.  Push string or line through the hole to hang the birdhouse.
  5. Break or cut sticks to cover the bottom and all sides working around the hole cut in the center front.  Glue them into place.  Glue a small stick under the hole for a perch.
  6. Cut or braek sticks for the roof.  Glue into place.  Glue stick to cover the top of ridge.


Wood Collection

Make a collection of various types of tree limbs cut in cross-sections.  These show heartwood, growth rings, cambium layer and bark.  Do not cut these from live trees, but from limbs that have fallen off.  If green, allow to dry in a warm place for several weeks.

Saw the ends squarely and retain the bark.  Then cut them crosswise, lengthwise, and slanting to show all the features of the wood.  Sandpaper your specimens, then brush on shellac.


Diameter Tape And Cruising Stick

Foresters use cruising sticks to measure a tree’s diameter and height.  These facts are essential in figuring the amount of wood in a tree.

Tree Diameter: Cut a strip of flexible paper or cardboard about ½ inch wide and 45 inches long.  Begin at one end of the paper strip and make ink markings 3.14 inches on tape equals 1 inch of tree diameter.  To measure tree diameter, wrap tape around tree at chest height, about 4 ½ feet above ground.  The diameter of the tree in inches will be at the mark nearest where the tape over-laps the zero end.

Tree Height: Glue a strip of hard paper or cardboard on one side of a yardstick.  Begin at one end and make marks 6.16 inches apart with ink.  Label the first mark 1, the second 2, and so on.  To measure tree height, stand 66 feet from it.  Hold arm horizontally and the stick vertically at arm’s reach – about 25-inches from the eyes.  Slide stick up or down until the top of the stick is in line with the top of the tree.  Without moving, sight bottom of tree (be sure stick is still vertical) and see the place on the stick where line of sight crosses it.  The nearest figure is the number of 16-foot lengths in the tree.  If the figure is 2, there are two 16-foot lengths, so the tree is 32 feet high.


Plant A Tree – A Joy Forever

Planting a tree can be a personal thing to beautify your own property or it can be an excellent gift to a school, church, park, retirement home, or many other worthwhile places.

Steps In Planting A Shade Tree

  1. Select the tree and decide when and where to plant it.
  2. Protect the root from drying.  Unpack a bare-root tree immediately and place it in a bucket of water or thin mud.  Do not plant with packing material attached to roots.
  3. Dig a hole large enough to hold the entire root system without crowding.
  4. Make certain that drainage from the hole is good.  Planting-holes must be drained for trees to grow satisfactorily.
  5. Cut off one half inch of the ends of the roots to expose live root tissue.  Prune the top of the tree as needed to compensate for roots lost in digging and moving.  Consult a nurseryman or a good tree manual before starting to prune.  This is a skill, and care should be taken to control and shape growth and to protect tree health by eliminating dead, diseased, and injured wood.
  6. Put some fertile soil in the hole.
  7. Set the tree in the hole no deeper than it was at its original site.
  8. Install support stakes.  One to three wooden stakes usually will support trees that have a trunk diameter of no more than two inches.  The wooden stakes should be 6 to 8 feet long and strong enough to hold the trunk rigidly in place.
  9. Cover the roots with fertile soil, tamping it or settling it with water.  Pour protective mulch, such as wood chips or peat moss around the base after water has soaked in.
  10. Wrap the trunk with a protective covering such as burlap, cloth strips, or paper.  Don’t use polyethylene plastic.
  11. Fasten the trunk to the stakes with canvas tape or loops of wire passed through a section of rubber or plastic hose or similar material.
  12. Care for the tree after planting.  Water well and  Stand Back And Be Proud!


How Trees Grow

A tree has three main parts.  The roots anchor it in the ground and absorb water and minerals from the soil.  The trunk and branches carry sap and lift the leaves into the sunlight.  The leaves are the food factories of the tree.

A tree grows higher and wider by lengthening its twigs and branches at the tips.  At the ends of the twigs, the terminal buds are continually adding new cells.  Meanwhile, the twigs, branches, and trunk grow thicker.

Most trees have a section called the cambium, which is a layer of cells where the growth in diameter occurs.  Every year the layer of cambium between the sapwood and the inner bark adds a layer of new cells to the older wood.  Each layer forms a ring.  By counting these rings you can tell the age of a tree.

Water and dissolved minerals travel up from the roots to the leaves in the new layer of wood inside the cambium.  This part of the trunk is called sapwood.  Other sap carries plant food down from the leaves through a layer inside the bark.

As the tree grows, the older sapwood stiffens and loses connection with the leaves.  Then it just stores water, and finally, it becomes solid heartwood.

While the cambium makes the tree trunk and its branches grow in size, the leaves produce the food, which builds the tissues of the tree.  Using the energy from the sunlight, the green coloring matter in the leaves (called chlorophyll) takes carbon dioxide out of the air.  It combines the carbon dioxide with water and dissolved minerals from the roots to form sugars and starches.

FOREST FIRES--We Must Protect Our Forests!

Life is short.  Forest animals lives are in our hands.  When the trees and grass grow dry as timber, don’t leave burning embers at a campground.  Even contained fires can quickly get out of hand and grow like fury.  A few smoldering twigs can become a rampaging blaze.  A single careless toss can turn the forest world into wholesale horror.  Fire destroys burrows, nests, seeds, roots, hunting territories, mating grounds, and LIFE.

It takes no more than one fool to start a fire.  It often takes an army of cool heads to put one out.  Man is responsible for 58% of all forest fires, and about 1/3 of that number are set on purpose.  People who use the woods for recreation are responsible for 1/3 of all forest fires each year.


Learn How To Use Fires Safely – Or Stay Home!

Lightning causes many forest fires too, but when it strikes it often happens on top of a hill, where the temperature is cooler, the fuel supply is sparse, and the flames are more easily spotted.

Animals caught in a forest fire can’t outrun the flames.  Think about them on your next trip, and rake the ashes of your campfire extra carefully.  You’ll be glad you did and so will the animals.

A surface fire burns along the floor of the forest.  It is usually slow moving and close to the ground, but it can spread fast.  It kills small trees and will permanently damage larger trees. Most fires are this type.

A ground fire burns on or below the forest floor.  Lightning often starts these fires.  They move slowly, and often go undetected for weeks.  They are hard to put out.  The heat they create beneath the ground destroys the trees’ roots and any chance for life.

A crown fire moves faster than most people can run!  These fires often start as surface fires, and are blown by wind into the tree crowns.  Fir forests are especially vulnerable.  The needles and cones catch fire easily and quickly.  A grove of trees “topping out” in this way is doomed.

A fire has to be fed or it dies.  If you want to kill one fast, cut off its supplies: heat, fuel, and air.  The main elements which influence the spread of fire are fuel (such as dry grasses, dead leaves, brush, small trees, logs, top soil); weather (wind, moisture, and temperature); and slope.

(Tune: Rock A Bye Baby)

Out in the forest, under the tree,
See the scouts trekking, finding species.
This tree’s familiar, this one is not.
Oh no, don’t touch that bush, or you’ll get spots!

Tie Slide – Walnut Squirrel

This adorable little fellow will make a cute tie slide.  To make the squirrel, glue two walnuts together – one in an upright position for the body (pointed end up), and the other in a horizontal position (pointed end toward front) for the head.  Bend 1” pieces of pipe cleaners into V’s for ears: invert and glue to the head.  Glue on tiny plastic or bead eyes ands a small black dot with felt maker for his nose.  Glue on several short pieces of black thread for whiskers.  Add a loop on the back for the slide.


Each arm is a 3 ½” piece of pipe cleaner, folded in half and bent at the elbow.  Glue arms to the body and glue a peanut between the paw.  Shape a 7 ½” pieces of pipe cleaner, as shown, for each leg; glue to the body.  Fold a pipe cleaner, for the tail and glue to the body.  Tie a bright yarn or ribbon bow around his neck