Month: January 2014

The Earth Scouts Festival Activities for Children and Youth

democracyPurpose: The purpose of an Earth Scouts Festival is to introduce parents and children in the community to the Earth Scouts experience with hands-on children’s activities that fulfill the Earth Charter’s principles for respect for nature, economic justice, human rights and a culture of peace. It is hoped that the experience will generate participants’ excitement and engagement in Earth Scouts either through hosting an Earth Scouts group or becoming an Earth Scouts Family. It is also a good way for the festival organizer to connect with other Earth Scouts’ minded families in his/her community.

Where can they be held? Earth Scouts Festivals can be stand-alone events or held in conjunction with other aligned events such as those for children, the environment or your faith community. In Tampa, Florida, Festivals have been hosted in conjunction with the annual Earth Charter Community Summits as well as a part of a community wide children’s festival known as Kaleidoscope.

Community centers and places of worship often provide free space for the festivals. In Tampa, the festivals, along with the annual Earth Charter Community Summits, have been hosted by the local community college. Local museums especially those that focus on children have also been willing to provide space for an Earth Scouts Festival. The museums have also helped market the Earth Scouts Festival to their usual group of visitors.

Publicity: Publicity can be self-generated via email lists and flyers distributed to local businesses, schools, and organizations. It is easier to get publicity for the festival when it is part of another event or is being hosted by a larger organization like a school, church, temple or mosque. Local entertainers who already are known and appreciated by children have also been willing to perform at the festivals, and, of course, they attract their own audiences.

The Earth Scouts Festival Guides: The Earth Scouts Festival Guides included here are sets of hands-on activities designed by three different curriculum specialists and used at different Earth Scouts Festivals held in Tampa.

The first, very successful Festival Guide was designed by Katie Templin Culbert and Barbara Cloud-Weisman for the first Earth Scous Festival in 2003. Click here to viewCulbert’s and Cloud-Weisman’s Guide. Here are some of the details about structuring the Festival.

  • The Guide provides you with detailed descriptions on how to do the various exercises.
  • Each exercise represents or teaches about a particular Earth Charter Principle.
  • The exercises are set up at different tables around a large room. Each table has a sign over it, written on butcher paper, indicating the Earth Charter Principle addressed by that activity. The children participate individually in the activities as they arrive at each table.
  • Each child receives an Earth Scouts Passport when they sign in.
  • Then, when the youth complete an exercise, their passport is “stamped” with an www.earthscoEarth Scouts sticker for the Earth Charter Principle the exercise represents. (These stickers served as the models for our Earth Scouts Badges.)
  • The Earth Scouts CD, Heartbeat of the Earth, composed and sung byShana Banana, is used in one of the activities and is available for download.

Sue Carter designed another Earth Scouts Festival Guide. In the first Guide or set of activities, the children can participate individually in the activities as they arrive at the activity table. In Carter’s Festival activities, the children participate as a group and many of the activities take place outside as well as inside.

Earth Scouts is Scouting ‘Plus’

QuestionsEarth Scouts is more than a scouting program. It is a way for children and youth to become empowered to make a positive difference in their homes, schools and communities.

Imagine a community where children and youth

  • Appreciate one another’s differences
  • Have awe and a sense of wonder about nature and the cosmos
  • Engage in making their school and community better
  • Value independence and cooperation
  • Seek peaceful solutions to problems
  • Welcome new knowledge and experiences

Earth Scouts is a new national program developed by Earth Charter U.S. that inspires the above qualities in boys and girls from 3 to 17 years of age and engages them in actions. Earth Scouts themes are derived from the Earth Charter: A Declaration of Interdependence. The Earth Charter calls for a caring, sustainable and peaceful world. It was written by thousands of people from 78 countries over a period of 10 years and launched at The Hague Peace Palace in 2000.

Earth Scouts’ youth wrote the mission: Changing the world one fun badge at a time—children and youth working together to make the Earth Charter a reality at home and in the community. Badges center on universal human rights, eliminating poverty (economic justice), participatory democracy, respect for nature and a culture of peace.

Earth Scouts was developed by volunteers including parents, youth, educators, artists and other enthusiastic community members. From their exercises and activities, we have developed the most recent Earth Scouts Facilitators Guide which provides guidelines and examples for each of the 16 principles of the Earth Charter. Older Guides, additional Tips and student projects are also available. Parents and youth can develop their awareness of the interdependence of all life and the interrelatedness of all issues through these experiences as well as those they design themselves.

In these guides, we have recommended that Earth Scouts Groups or Families use the following processes in ‘getting to action’:

  • Inspire – Use exercises such as games, songs or performances that excite the child or youth about the issue and the Earth Charter principle you are examining
  • Understand – Do research, take field trips, study and discuss the issue and principle
  • Present – Use art or a science project or some other mode for demonstrating what has been learned about the issue or principle
  • Act – Develop and carry out an individual and/or group action in the home, school, or community that addresses the issue and fulfills the principle

As an example:

Principle: Eradicate poverty as economic, social and moral imperative.

To understand this principle and put it into action an Earth Scout may

  • Develop a relationship with a migrant farmer’s child;
  • Learn the difference between organic and non-organic farming;
  • Understand the connection of migrant poverty to agribusiness;
  • Engage in experiences that illuminate the gender role differences between males and females in the migrant camps;
  • Learn about discrimination against migrant farmers in their community;
  • Take action to buy locally produced food; and/or
  • Advocate for changes that benefit migrant farmers.

 

We welcome your participation to help grow Earth Scouts nationally and globally. You may form or join an Earth Scouts Group of several families and youth. Or you may become an Earth Scouts Family in which just family members structure relevant exercises and activities to learn and act on the Earth Charter principles. Or you may host an Earth Scouts Festival in your community. Please share with us as you add your own ideas about Earth Scouts activities so we may let others know.

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You can become an Earth Scout – in a Group, in your Family or even on your Own

QuestionsIf you want to be an Earth Scout in a Group, you can join a group that exists or start one yourself.

Find an existing Earth Scouts Group

  • Look at our list of Earth Scouts Groups. You can join their local online Group or contact their facilitator and/or
  • Join our Earth Scouts Home Yahoo Group, with national and international members, and introduce yourself, asking if there are groups starting or running in your area.

Start an Earth Scouts Group

To start your own Earth Scouts Group, you need to find other interested people.

  • Read the experiences of other Earth Scouts Facilitators. Examples include early Facilitators in Tampa, Florida and in Portland, Oregon.
  • Go to a list of People Interested in Earth Scouts.
  • If you wish to be on this list of interested people, send your name, email and location (city and state) to Genie Skypek, Earth Scouts Coordinator.
  • Search your communities, e.g., homeschooling groups, faith communities, friends, public school classes or teachers, after school activities, children and youth organizations. Distribute Earth Scouts flyers, write articles and generate interest.

Running an Earth Scouts Group

Whether joining or starting an Earth Scouts Group, preparing yourself is key to a successful group.

  • Remembering that Earth Scouts learn about and act to implement the Principles of the Earth Charter, read the original version of the Earth Charter, a version for youth and a version for younger children.
  • Review Earth Scouts Facilitator Guides and Tips for information about the structure and organization of an Earth Scouts Group and sample activities for groups.
  • Check out the information on Earth Scouts Badges and Patches, how to earn them and how to order them.People take different approaches to badges. Some like them as recognition of efforts invested by their children. Some want to do it on an annual basis. Some prefer a ‘per activity’ recognition approach. Others prefer their children to gain their reward intrinsically.
  • Complete the Earth Scouts Facilitator/Parent Pledge and email or mail it in.
  • Join the Earth Scouts Home Yahoo Group to exchange information with other group facilitators and Earth Scouters.
  • Start your own Yahoo Group for people in your area.
  • Find links and resources online or in your community to stimulate ideas about activities for Earth Scouters.
  • Some children want uniforms. You can put together a uniform of t-shirts and caps or whatever your group might want by shopping at the Earth Scouts Stores.

Become an Earth Scouts Family

In instances where there is no Earth Scouts Group and you don’t want to start one, consider becoming an Earth Scouts Family. Several families are facilitating Earth Scouts learning and actions in this way. Find Earth Scouts Families. All of the Facilitator Guides and other processes can be used in a family setting.

Become an Earth Scout Individual

Some people, young and old alike, may want to be an Earth Scout on their own, challenging themselves to learn about the Principles of the Earth Charter and to implement in their communities and their lives. We welcome you as well.

KITS FOR KIDS PROJECT

respectAddressing the Earth Charter’s Human Rights and Economic Justice Principles –“Be sure that everyone gets a fair share of Earth’s resources”(from The Earth Charter for Youth),

Jonathan, a 13 year old in Tampa, FL, announced his plan to create “Kits for Kids” during his Bar Mitzvah in 2007. To fulfill the Earth Charter Human Rights and Economic Justice principles and create a community service project that can be easily replicated across the world, Jonathan chose to provide children in real need within his community with basic, “back-to-school” supplies. “Kits for Kids” is directed toward helping families within the Florida Kinship Center located in Hillsborough County.

Jonathan requested that any gifts be in the form of donations to Earth Charter U.S. He and his mother then used these donations to purchase the kits (backpacks, school supplies and a disposable camera) for children in the Kinship Center. Jonathan raised more than $3,000 to launch this project. With that money he was able to assemble and help 370 families prior to the start of the 2008 school year.

The Florida Kinship Center provides support to grandparents who are raising children left in their care due to the death or inability of the children’s parents to care for them. Because they are not legal guardians, they often do not qualify for many resources in the child welfare system. These families must personally deal with both the financial burdens and responsibilities of having a new member within their household. There are approximately 23,000 children living in Hillsborough County who are living with kin, and these families are often stretched well beyond their resources.

The Florida Kinship Center was established in 1998 to respond to the needs and issues facing Kinship families. The Center’s mission is to serve kinship care families living in Florida, engage the resources of the Center in partnerships that respond to kinship care needs and issues, and conduct research that advances knowledge and understanding of kinship care. Through innovative programs, services and partnerships, the Florida Kinship Center helps support kinship caregivers, children and the entire kinship family. The Kinship Center is partly funded by the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County, an organization committed to building the necessary conditions to value and support the well-being and inherent dignity of children and their families.

In Jonathan’s own words – The ‘Kits for Kids’ Project:

Modern law teaches that punishment should be proportional to crimes. None of us think that we intentionally steal, but in fact, there are many ways that we do so by accident. I did not think of myself as being a person who stole anything. But after much thought, I learned that there are ways that I have stolen from people that I don’t know. For example, I enjoy going to parades where beads are thrown to people in the crowd. . I have learned that these beads are made in China by people who get paid less than $200 per month working in inhumane conditions. I learned that it isn’t only individuals that steal from one another. One country can also steal from another country without thinking of it as stealing. There are many incidents like this every day in all parts of the world that go unpunished, and there are no laws to punish these crimes. There are no laws preventing one country from exploiting another, but it is wrong to take advantage of people who live in those countries, and who happen to be vulnerable and less fortunate.

Although I can’t give back everything that has been stolen, I can do my part, and at the same time inspire others to do their parts as well. I chose to give back to children who have had their parents stolen from them through no fault of their own. To do this, I have set up the first micro-finance project for kids within the Earth Charter. It is called “Kits for Kids.” The concept is to collect enough funds to provide basic necessities such as backpacks, clothing and supplies, and disposable cameras to give to vulnerable kids in our community. These supplies will be given to children who have lost or been separated from their parents, and are living with their grandparents rather than in a foster home with strangers. These kids were chosen because their grand-parents do not yet qualify as legal guardians. They therefore don’t qualify for aid that other legal guardians of abandoned children receive. There are even more children all over the world who have been stripped of their basic necessities, such as food, water and clothing. Others have lost their rights, their freedom, their parents, or the love of their families.

For my project, I have chosen to help in my community through the Earth Charter. This organization is dedicated to world transformation based upon four pillars; a sustainable, global society, ecological integrity for the earth, social and economic justice, and democracy combined with non-violence and peace. I have created a model that can be replicated by kids like you throughout the world. I can’t solve all these problems by myself, but if every person just solves what ever problem is in front of them, then the world will be a more ideal place.

From this project, I’ve learned that just as a punishment is proportional to a crime, the reverse is also true. I’ve also learned that the goodness that we receive is proportional to the goodness of our actions. It is my hope that each of you will find your own way to give back to your own communities.