By Deborah Bracken
My neckerchief slide experience reckons all the way back to my days as the young daughter of a Den Mother and the little sister to a Cub Scout. I remember watching my mom pour plaster of paris into candy molds, then adding small white curtain rings once partially dry and finally, watching the boys paint them.
Why did my mom do it? Well, I think it was because she was a very practical lady and knew boys tended to lose their slides. Why do I do it now? And why do other leaders make their own slides?
- Cost Saver Boys and Leaders can make a slide for next to nothing and never buy one if they don’t want to (official BSA Policy states:Several official slides are available from the Supply Group. Boy-made handicraft slides also may be worn. [see Guides to Awards and Insignia).
- Sanity Saver Ever watched an 8 year-old boy dig through their stuff, frantically trying to search for his slide?! It’s torture-and I’ll admit there’s been a time or two I’ve dug around trying to find my official slide.
- It’s Fun! I love pulling out my spider neckerchief slide in October, my Pinewood Derby Car slide for the Big Race, and ones I know will catch the boys’ attention. It just makes your uniform a little more personalized. It’s a great conversation starter when I see a creative slide at Roundtable and just have to ask how they did it. The boys love them too!
First of all, my style is cheap. I don’t know if I’ve ever needed to be reimbursed for my slides; a little creativity and networking go a long way. There are several categories of slides you could classify my style into.
- Found Items Once you brain starts working, you won’t believe the number of items that you can pick up at the dollar store or dig up around the house (or your kid’s toy box) for next to nothing or free. It’s usually as easy as slapping some hot glue onto the back and attaching it to some sort of ring (more on that later). Examples include a mini sunscreen bottle, toy animal, Duplo brick, etc.
- Milk Lids Yes, something as simple as collecting milk lids (and Gatorade, etc) can get you on your way to cheap/free neckerchief slides. Again, attach it to a ring with hot glue and you are on your way to a variety of slides. Ideas include a minion face, monster (think green milk lid), and superhero logo.
- Plaster of Paris/Candy Molds I hadn’t seen a plaster of paris slide since my childhood until last year’s Scouting Expo when I walked by Akela’s Council’s booth and got sidetracked by these totally awesome Star Wars neckerchief slides! I just had to get one! I needed it and my son just HAD to have one. Luckily, they were kind enough to let us “win” the Star Wars. They looked so good, I couldn’t figure out how they did it. Lo and behold, it was the good old plaster of paris! This isn’t so much my thing (as far as making, I LOVE my Yoda slide!) but lots of people love it.
- Crafting These require a little effort either on your part or the boys but ideas are everywhere. There are website devoted to neckerchief slides that are unreal but a lot of times, my inspiration comes from a Pinterest search of something. Sometimes it’s neckerchief slides but other times it’s just a smaller craft that I think, “Hey-if I just glue a ring onto the back, it would look really cool!”
The least exciting, but equally important part is finding a ‘ring’ to attach your really cool object-soon-to-be-slide to. There are several schools of thought on this one and I think different objects work better with different types. Attaching can also be tricky too. So far, I’ve mostly used hot glue-but I use a lot of it to try to keep it together. There is also a glue I’ve had great success with in other projects I may try for this called E-600. Be warned:it tells you to use in a ventilated room and may cause birth defects-this is no Elmer’s non-toxic stuff but it does work well. One word of advice: Cub Scouts should not use a hot glue gun! I couldn’t find that specifically but took a class where I learned Cub should not use any tool with a plug (in other words, power tools). Based on the logic of glue being melted at high temps and the no tool with a plug, I’m thinking that part is best left to adults. (Correct me if I’m wrong!) So here’s my list of ideas I’ve either used or heard of:
- PVC Pipe I used to use 1 inch pipe but upon watching one of my scouts constantly struggle keeping his heavier slide up, I tried some 3/4 in and am really happy with it. This is my personal favorite. It’s reaaaallly cheap and easy to get your hands on through other means. I finally just bought my first piece of PVC; up until now I’ve used ‘found’ pieces from neighbor’s yard projects or my own. One other suggestion: it might help to create a ‘flat’ part of the PVC pipe ring so your glue adheres better between the object you’re gluing and the ring. To do that, you stick your rings in boiling water until they are pliable and then press one side onto a flat surface. I’ve just recently started doing this because I have had some trouble having my object stay attached to the ring. Another suggestion I read was to give a quick sand to the pvc and/or object being glued to help with adherence. I hope it never comes to that!
- Chenille Stems (Pipe Cleaners) With certain slides (like my medicine bottle first aid kit), pipe cleaners work perfectly.
- Milk Jug Handles To be perfectly honest, I’ve never attempted this one because it doesn’t look perfectly nice when I tried one time and cut it AND I didn’t want to have to clean it. And, when there’s perfectly good PVC pipe everywhere, why bother.
- Party Bag Rings I hope that’s a good description of it. They are those cheapy, cheapy little rings that would probably turn your finger green but you can buy at party stores in a big bag for next to nothing. This is what the Akela’s Council people did with their plaster of paris slides. Way easier than cutting a bazillion PVC pipe rings. Genius!
Neckerchief Slide Ideas
You can click on any of the images to make them bigger.
First Aid Kit, Wilderness Survival Kit, and Fishing Kit
The idea is all the same: take a film canister or prescription bottle, attach it to either a ring or punch 2 holes and run a short pipe cleaner through it and you have a bottle that can be used in a myriad of ways. The idea comes from http://www.e-scoutcraft.com/ and the website owner, Vince Hale, gives great directions from there. Other ideas for canisters include fire starting kit, emergency litter bag, salt shaker, and more. (Picture credit: http://www.e-scoutcraft.com/)
Dutch Oven Neckerchief Slide
Find a black lid (either something like a Powerade lid or another lid painted black). Use thick wire; shape like a handle and hot glue to the bottom of the lid. Add a mixture of grains (like rice) and beans with some white glue. Mix together and let dry in the lid. Glue on a ring for the slide. For detailed instructions visit http://4growingboys.blogspot.com.
Nerds Box Neckerchief Slide
Easiest slide ever, especially after Halloween! Simply empty an individual-sized Nerds box, fold all flaps in and the box becomes your neckerchief slide. Idea borrowed from an awesome Scout leader in District 18 years ago.
Lego American Flag Neckerchief Slide
A personal favorite-what boy can’t resist Legos! Idea modified from a Lego pin. For permanency, glue individual bricks together or hot glue the whole back when gluing on the ring.
Stamp American Flag Neckerchief Slide
Easy neckerchief slide that can be modified to fit other themes as well. Collect stamps (the rare ones you get nowadays!), cut and glue them onto either cardstock or foam sheets. Add a ring.
Pinewood Derby Neckerchief Slide
All this requires is a piece of moulding cut down to 1″ pieces and 4 thumbtacks spray painted black. Glue on the ring prior to letting the boys paint them OR if you are making them in mass, lay them outside on old cardboard and spray paint the whole lot of them at one time. Visit http://alpinedistrictcubs.blogspot.com for more help.
Milk Lid Monsters Neckerchief Slide
Another easy, just about free slide perfect for October. Collect milk lids (green are awesome) and add googly eyes, craft foam fangs, teeth, black round mouth, etc. You can also use a black sharpie but the foam looks a little better. One word of warning: when I did it with my scouts we used white glue and after a few weeks, the pieces came off.
S’mores Neckerchief Slide
Cut 2 squares of tan craft foam, 1 square dark brown craft foam and grab a cotton ball. Hot glue each piece together and add a pvc ring.
Snowman Neckerchief Slide
Search the web for a variety of takes on this cute winter slide. The basic idea is the same: get a flameless tea light, use a Sharpie to draw on some sort of coal eyes and mouth, then add accessories like a hat, (craft foam), scarf (felt or ribbon), or ear muffs.
Slide Use a milk lid as your base and add a circle of yellow craft foam. From there, use your imagination (and knowledge of minions) to add details.
Plaster of Paris Neckerchief Slides
Use candy molds and plaster of paris to create fun slides for the boys to paint. These slides were all won at the Scouting Expo in May from a booth put on by Akela’s Council (learn more at http://akelascouncil.blogspot.com/). I’d recommend simple designs that don’t require a lot of paint colors. Found Items Slides The following slides are found objects that are either fit with a pack meeting theme/den meeting adventure or are just fun. Your only limitation is your imagination!
Please visit my page on Pinterest for more ideas and pictures of neckerchief slides.