My Family

My Family

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Cubs Under the Sea - A Cub Scout Blue and Gold Banquet

      You probably don't know it, but I am the cubmaster for my grandson's Cub Scout pack. One of my responsibilities is taking care of awards ceremonies and another is our yearly Blue and Gold Banquet. Each year, several of the people who attend tell me I should share how I create some or all the decorations used for the banquet. So, I thought I would try to do that, starting with some of the decorations used this year for our Cubs Under the Sea themed banquet. Let me start by explaining that we have decided to just create decorations for four banquets. Instead of creating new decorations for a different theme each year, this will allow us to store a majority of the decorations and reuse them, spending less funds in the long run over time. Since our Cubs are only in Cub Scouts for three years and we invite boys who are coming into our pack in the coming year, four themes will work although if a boy has an older or younger sibling, they will end up seeing some of the decorations more than once unfortunately. I really don't think most of the boys will mind much, since they seem to enjoy our banquet each year so far.
     So, what are our four themes going to be? This year, it was "Cubs Under the Sea" (Ocean) Next year, it will be "Baloo and Gold" (Jungle Book). The following year, it will be "Blue and AU" (Science, AU is the abbreviation for Gold) and the last year will be "Cubs in Shining Armor" (Knights). I've found ideas for Blue and Gold Banquets all over the internet and heard about many others at the monthly round table meetings. You could easily pick whatever three or four thems you want, stick with them, and simply rotate them each year so the boys in your pack will enjoy a different theme as they go through their ranks. Of course, if you also have Tigers, which we don't or have a two year Webelos program, which we also don't, you may need more themes to rotate than we do.
     Since I took photos as I made several of the decorations this year or still have a few materials left over from making decorations this year, I can start by sharing how I made many of the decorations we had for our banquet this year. I hope you will enjoy the decorations and that I can explain how I made them easy enough that you will understand easily enough how I made them that you will be able to make many of them, if you want. I will warn you, I did get many of the ideas off Pintrest, but unfortunately many of the ideas were just photos with no link to a site to explain how the decorations were actually made! Some of the ideas were linked, but the explanations to make them were n't very explicit, so I still had to figure a lot out. When possible, I will include a link to the original idea, in case my directions aren't that great.
     I want to explain up front that I had planned to make an "island" or "hill" to attach the decorations to, but the stuff we had that I thought I could use to make the islands were ruined by the weather, so I had to come up with a different way to make my bases at the last minute. Maybe it turned out better in the long run but I plan to do it differently in four years, if I'm still decorating for our Blue and Gold Banquets then.
     So, let's start with a photo of an area of the finished decorations, then I'll explain how I made each of those decorations.
    Let's start with some easy and pretty cheap decorations. This photo is basically paper fish and party streamer seaweed. We actually found two colors of green party streamers to make the seaweed with. I picked up one at my local dollar store for a buck and the other at my local Wal Mart for a few cents less. You just tape a piece at the bottom of the wall. Cut or tear it the length you want the seaweed to be, then simply twist it and tape it at the top of the piece. You can make seaweed in groups, as you see in the photo or simply several pieces going straight up and down in a grouping. You can see one single strand on the left side of the photo with two groups starting from the same place. For the groups, to save time, we actually did pieces in a "V" shape several times, together, in different lengths.
     As far as the paper fish go, we actually used them in several areas. Along this wall, they are sprinkled among the seaweed and to "fill in" where it looked a little blank. We cut them from just about every color we had in the pack of construction paper, except black, brown, and white. I made two sizes of stencils I'll share later. I actually got this idea from someone on Pintrest, but made my own stencils. Since we only have six boys in our pack at the time of the banquet. A couple of the moms are really busy between work and a couple teenagers, but I was able to ask the rest of my moms if they would be willing to help cut out fish. I don't think they realized I was asking so many moms to do this or how many fish I was getting cut out, but we used almost every single one while we decorated! I mostly wanted the larger fish with a few of the smaller to fill in. This is just one area we used the fish. You can see small areas of one long wall we actually created a large "school" of fish. Unfortunately, somehow I didn't get a photo of the school and I'm asking if anyone else may have taken one. We didn't just make a three foot wide straight line of fish, we actually made more of a wave several times. It looked amazing and worked perfectly on the accordian pleat wall. It's always a hassle to decorate this wall in our gym. Not much will tape and stay attached to it. This worked absolutely perfectly! We also worked on just this wall two days, a couple hours or so each day and I had some wonderful help doing it too! Thanks to the daughter, Maddie, of a dear friend of mine and a couple other people I don't think this would have been done as well as it was. I even had some help from my 2 and 4 year old grand daughters to make it. Of course, since they are about three feet tall or so, many of the fish they taped to the wall had to be moved to make the wall I had envisioned.
     This is one of the areas I was talking about earlier, a "hill or island" of decorations. I had planned on using a large chunk of foam insulation someone had given my husband a couple years ago. I had thought he had stored some under a tarp, to save it from the weather but either he didn't or it had gotten blown off and the foam was in horrible shape. By the time I found out about it, it was too late to try to replace it with foam or styrafoam. They idea I found on Pentrest led me to a website where the person explained how she had done it with medium sized cardboard boxes. Believe it or not, we ended up using stacking chairs with fabric covered seats and personally, I think it worked wonderfully. We made several stacks of different heights and covered them with burlap, instead of the brown paper she used. I only wish we had just a couple, three more pieces of burlap, to take care of a couple spots that weren't covered quite right. You can see one spot at the bottom, in the middle. This section of decorations actually has quite a few different plants and animals I created. I'll start with the easiest pieces and go from there with directions on how to make as many as I can. Some of the decorations were also used in another area and are better seen in a photo of that area, so I'll probably explain how to make those after a photo of that area.

Coffee Filter Coral
      Coral made out of coffee filters was probably one of the easiest decorations we made this year. There were a few other decorations that were easy too and we'll get to them, but I wanted to start with something easy and pretty too.

     One set of directions I found through Pintrest was to use water based markers and color six filters with the same set of colors and roughly the same pattern. Once you are done coloring, you lightly spray the filters with water
and let them dry (I used a couple trays from my dehydrator), then staple them together. This isn't a bad way to do the coral, if you need an activity for a group of children and have them color the filters, but if it's just a couple adults making all the decorations, I found a much faster and easier way to color the filters.
     I found that using Walton gel icing dye, warm water in a jar, and pie plates, I was able to dye several sets of coral at a time. It was much easier and a LOT faster than the marker method. You could probably lay wax paper on a table or even the floor and do even more sets of coral at a time, I just didn't have the space when I was doing most of these. I bought an entire package of coffee filters and used old mayonnaise jars with their lids. I put about an inch to an inch and a half of warm water in four or five of the jars. After I added the icing gel, I would simply put the lid on the jar and shake well to mix. Depending on how many colors you want to work with at a time will decide how many jars you use. I think I used four jars and played with the color in one of the jars, eventually mixing the original yellow dye I had made with red color and coming up with a nice orange color. Remember, you are going to add a BUNCH of dye to the water! You'll be worried you are adding too much, when it's probably going to be just enough. My suggestion is to either dye just one filter, to test your dye or enough filters to make one coral (6) and see if you have added enough dye. You really won't know how strong the color of your dye is until you look at your dried test filters.
     I started with yellow and blue dyes, the Cub Scout colors and also basic colors too. I was never able to get a true red dye color, but it came out as a beautiful rose color instead.  Eventually, I also made purple dye too. The purple was fun and interesting! Remember, it's a secondary color and for me, the colors separated after I dipped the coffee filters into the dye and set them aside to dry.    Although I was able to dip the filters into the dye in the mayonnaise jars, it's easier if you pour the dye into a small bowl. You don't have to dip the filter halfway to the middle of the filter if you are planning on using more than one color of dye on the filters, but only about an inch or so. Remember, the filter is made of paper designed to absorb liquid! Once you set the filter aside to dry, the dye will continue working it's way toward the other end of the filter. Also, you don't want to leave the filters in the dye for long. Basically, quickly dip and set aside. The longer you leave the filters in the dye, no matter how far you dip them into the dye, the higher up the filters the dye will absorb.
     So, if you have your dye ready, your coffee filters, and your drying area prepared, you are ready to start dying your filters. Take one or two filters and put your finger in the middle. Taking the filter from the middle, you'll gather the edge together. (look at photo) Now, you can dip either the point or the edge into your dye and set aside to dry. Keep an eye on your first few (enough for one coral), to make sure you have dipped the filters down into the dye far enough. If you feel you haven't dipped your filters into the dye far enough, you can always dip them again or just dip the filters further into the other dye you are going to use on the filters. No one but you will know the filters weren't dipped into the dye far enough! Once your filters are dry, you can dip the other end of the filters into a second color of dye or leave them the original white. If you dip them into another color of dye, remember how much the dye continues to color your filters once they are set aside to dry. If you dip correctly, you will actually end up with three colors on your filters. The two colors you dipped them into and a third color in the middle, mixed from the two primary colors.
Pool Noodle Decorations

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