Monday, May 12, 2014

Bear Scares

I first learned about bear scares at an out of state camp I worked at.  I have yet to see them at another camp, but I love sharing them with the girls I have when working at a camp.  I was taught that the bracelets were beaded bracelets with plastic pony beads of different colors on a black cord with a knot at each end.  Each bead represented something special done at camp during the session.  Some you automatically earned, such as a level or type of camp, and others you had to do special things for. Of course you can change what each color represents to reflect your own camp and the activities offered. I bought a set of beads at my locally last year and set the colors and requirements as follows:

Black - One week

White - Longer than one week
Brown - Brownie's
Green - Junior's
Tan - Cadette/Senior/Ambassador's
Dark Pink - Craft specialty camp
Dark Brown - Horse specialty camp
Pink - Water specialty camp
Maroon - Fishing
Red - Archery
Orange - Slept in tent (platform or pop-up)
Dark Blue - Slept under stars
Blue - Lake/river activities (swim, canoe, sail, kayak)
Light Blue - Went swimming
Olive Green - Service Project
Yellow - Cookout
Purple - Embers
Grey - Scouts Own
Glow in the Dark - Helped build a ceremonial campfire
Star shaped (any color) - CIT
Heart shaped (any color) - Staff

Certain ones I've never had to change, such as black, brown, green, dark brown, red, orange, yellow, blue, light blue, glow in the dark.

Personally, this is my favorite type of bear scare bracelet as it reflects the campers and the specific session they participated in.

I originally searched for more information on these on the internet but have never found anything like mine. I have, however, come across several other neat explanations.  Like many things at camp, they like to vary from one camp to the next.

One version explains that a bear scare is a bracelet with 3 knots.  Each knot is a wish and you don't take the bracelet off for a year:

Another version actually has a story that goes along with the bracelet. Here is the story:

Two campers were walking in the woods. They became separated and one camper comes across a bear.  She is scared and doesn't know what to do.  The other camper, realizing they have been separated, goes to find her friend and scares away the bear. The bracelet represents this tale with knots.  There are three knots, the middle one is the 'bear' and the knots on either side are your 'friends'. When you tie the bracelet on your wrist the knot made is 'you'. This is a reminder that whatever your 'bear' is (homework, parents, challenges, etc.), your friends are always there between you and the bear.

Some versions of this bracelet also have beads showing how many years you have attended camp. The beads are divided equally on each side of the center knot and as such, a first year camper will always have two beads (of the same color) so they always have a buddy:

This next version uses the same story as above, but without the beads. Usually made out of leather, as the bracelet is worn the leather stretches and the knots 'travel' around the bracelet running away from the 'bear' in the middle.

One version uses a variation of the same story but with a different bracelet.  This one has three loops, tied with friendship knots, the first loop representing 'you', the third the 'bear', and the middle your 'friends' who are always there for you:

For those like me who have searched the internet for information about these, hopefully this post will help you.  For those who have never heard of it, I hope it inspires you to use this with your girls on your next camping adventure.


1 comment:

  1. My camp(s) did bear scares. I was always told the story of the center knot being the bear and the knots on either side are friends to stand between you (the closure knot) and the bear. You got beads based on the number of years you'd been at this camp. My last staff one had 7 beads. Staff bracelets were two strands and all were made with leather lacing. We also tied them with a "friendship" knot, because you couldn't tie that knot yourself on your own wrist. They're some of my most treasured possession. - Wolf