balloon animals

How to Tie Balloon Animals for Cub Scouts


I think it’s a basic tenet of the universe that everyone loves balloon animals. A few weeks back my wife and I took our two small children to their favorite ice cream shop. They were having a classic car show, with live music and a guy making balloon animals. A nice man on stilts made balloon dogs for each of my kids. We warned the kids that these balloons wouldn’t last forever.

They absolutely loved them. These were, for a little while, the most adored toys they’d ever owned. My four-year-old son named his. He called it Chase, after his favorite Paw Patrol character.

We were in the car on our way home when it happened…

Somehow, our dear son managed to untie the knot on his new favorite toy. I couldn’t read him to stop it. So I watched in slow motion as the air slowly left the balloon. It was like a scene out of a movie. I watched my son’s face go from joy to despair by stages, as the air left each section of the dog… in stages. It was absolutely heartbreaking.

My foray into Balloon Animals

When we got home, I found out that you can’t reinflate a balloon animal with just your lungs. I also discovered that you can’t do so with the pump for our air mattress. I even tried our son’s Penguin nebulizer. No dice.

It was about this time that our two-year-old daughter managed to pop her balloon dog.

Somewhere in the house, we have an air compressor for refilling the tires on the car. But I couldn’t find it. My darling wife volunteered to go to the grocery store to get the kids a couple of helium birthday balloons, which distracted them. Soon the balloon dogs were forgotten.

A few weeks later, my wife was stopping by a local store, and she found an air pump for four bucks on the discount rack. That evening, I tried to re-inflate and resuscitate my son’s poor balloon dog (now in truth, just an empty balloon.) I blew up the balloon, and then went online to find the instructions, which told me to not to inflate the balloon fully. I couldn’t get the knot untied (I suppose I should have waited for my son for that bit.)

This led to the explosion of the balloon after the fourth twist. I did recreate the dog’s head. But on the fourth twist, the balloon gave way and shot across the room.

I immediately went to Amazon and bought 100 modeling balloons. You’re also going to need a pump.

It took me a little while to get the hang of it. My first few dogs lacked ears. A few more of them shot across the room as they exploded. My son was starting to find the humor in this, and it wasn’t too long before he started enjoying the pops as much as he did the balloon dogs.

But eventually, following the instructions on the video below, I was able to get them made.

And my kids loved them… for about an hour. That was enough for me.

Scouting Uses for Balloon Animals

Obviously, there’s a Balloon Dog activity in the Grin and Bear It Adventure for your Bears. But I can imagine many other uses for this particular new skill.

Having done many school recruiting talks over the years, I can tell you that having some sort of visual prop to get the kids attention can be extremely helpful. Having an inexpensive tent that you’re going to give away can be a great attention getter. One of the other ones I had great success with was blowing up balloons inside other balloons. I had a packet of balloons in my car left over from day camp, and I had a little bit of time between lunch waves.

Having learned how to do this for Boy Talks, I then tried it at day camp. It even came in handy when I was an instructor at National Camping School. We had to run a game for the students, where the object was to break a balloon by sitting on it.

Obviously, balloon animals are so much cooler than balloons-in-balloons, so this would be a hit at Boy Talks. It would also be a great intro activity at your joining night.

This would also be a great program at Day Camp, and frankly, I can even imagine that Boy Scouts would enjoy learning this skill.

As with any Scouting activity, it should help the Scout build character, citizenship, or fitness. That they’ll fail on the first few times they try it will certainly help them develop character. That half the fun of them is giving them away will build citizenship, and that it does take a certain degree of physical skill to get them tied will require a little bit of fitness.


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