Luanne Taylor,
Ranger Guider ,
Mackenzie, BC
Part of Guiding tradition calls for these handy and practical items. What is a sit-upon? For the uninitiated -- it is an insulated and (usually) waterproof pad, often homemade, used to protect the user's backside from the cold and damp while "sitting upon" the ground! It is also great to keep mosquitoes from biting you from underneath your webbed lawn chair! :-)

A simple sit-upon made be constructed by taking several layers of newspaper, folding to the appropriate size and inserting them into a plastic "kitchen catcher"-type bag. Squeeze out any air, fold the bag snuggly around the newspaper, and use duct tape or packing tape to hold it all together. Add your name with a permanent marker!

Fancier sit-upons can be constructed with a little imagination... Old baby change pads make good insulation, and don't crackle like newspaper!. Or cover your pad of choice with cloth -- plain, patterned -- you choose -- add your name with t-shirt paints, and then enclose in a CLEAR garbage bag. Tape all edges with clear packing tape... Voila!

To add even more interest, ask at your local t-shirt shop for their used iron-ons. These come in an amazing array of pictures and styles. As long as you pick one with no words (words would be mirror-imaged), you can carefully cut the picture out, tape it to your sit-upon fabric or plastic, and cover with the clear plastic as described above.

Functional, yet elegant -- or at least with personality! And often a conversation-starter!

Take your sit-upon everywhere, and sit in comfort!

Karen Marks
Junior Troop 289
Austin, Texas
When we (the girls, not me :) ) were brownies, we used vinyl table clothes (purchased at Wal-Mart, if I remember correctly I think we were able to cut out four situpons per tablecloth) and egg crate foam mattress which were donated to the troop. The foam is much lighter than newspaper--something to keep in mind if doing a day hike with them.

Jane Schuler
Junior/Cadette Troop 5
Knoxville, Tennessee

Watch out for the woven newspaper sit-upons. When they get damp, everyone has the news printed on the back of her shorts. :) The sit-upons in the Brownie handbook leak if they are made as suggested. When water gets into these, the newspaper inside can become very heavy.

A much simpler, and more leak-proof, sit-upon can be made by placing folded newspaper inside a large Ziplock storage bag. These can be decorated with permanent markers.

My daughter's first sewing machine project (at age seven) was a sit-upon. We stacked up two squares of ripstop nylon (the fabric used in outdoor banners), added a square of the same size cut from quilt batting, and stitched three sides. She then clipped the corners, turned it, and stitched the remaining side shut. This is waterproof, machine washable, can be folded to stuff into a backpack or fanny pack, and lasts for years. She is now thirteen and still uses it.

Margaret Kieser
Guide Guider
South Africa
Here is my 1c worth (inflation ate away the 2c!) about how I have made situpons with the Guides here in South Africa. We also use the weaving method, but use plastic supermarket bags. We fold the bags into strips, weave them under and over and then tie the loose ends sticking out, in pairs with a reef knot. This is great for the "Thrift Badge" work as well, and it is not only waterproof, but folds up small and can be re-used for a few camps!

Sallie Zeil
Virginia Beach, Virginia
If you don't have an unwanted foam "egg crate" mattress available for putting inside situpons, try leftover carpet padding. A friend of mine found an even better free source of foam: soft foam padding used in packing medicines for shipment to pharmacies. The ones she got (from a mom who worked at a major drug store chain) were already a perfect size for situpons - about 13 to 14 inches square, and about 1 inch thick.

The mom who gave her these said all this foam is normally just thrown out, so this is a good way to recycle too!

If you go to the good-sized fabric stores (Jo-Annes, Cloth World here on the east coast), they have bolts of vinyl tablecloth-like fabric, often in wonderful colors and quite heavy-duty. They are all a fairly standard size and I've found that the width is always just right for making two situpons.

The length you buy is simply the size of a newspaper (measured side-to-side), plus about a half inch on either side. I use a paper hole puncher to put holes around the three sides of the vinyl, and the girls put in about a half inch max or smaller bunch of newspapers and then we lace it up with gimp. The knots at the end are not always "pretty", but since we go in a whip stitch from one side to the other, then whip back to make an "X", I have NEVER had a problem with moisture getting into our situpons - and some of them have already had 3 hard years of use.

As opposed to vinyl tablecloths, the vinyl fabric at fabric stores is often wonderfully colorful and unique - our situpons always stand out at Service Unit events!

Carol Metz
Brownie Troop 1312 leader
Penn Laurel Girl Scout Council
Frederick County, MD
Our troop made easy, light-weight, and comfortable(!) situpons so I couldn't resist sharing this idea with everyone. We made these as Daisies.
  • Take a gallon size Ziplock baggie and lightly fill with Styrofoam peanuts so that it lies flat, not overstuffed and round.
  • Clip the corners to let out the air so it won't pop.
  • Cover with Contact paper. (Lay the Contact paper on the ground, peel half the backing off, place bag, peel rest of backing off and flip over top, leaving a slight lip all around. Trim if needed. Younger girls may need extra hands to help them keep the Contact paper even, but we told everyone wrinkles don't matter.)
  • Punch two holes with a paper punch and add string to make it easy to wear around your neck for carrying.
Adults may need to use a plastic grocery bag to make their sit-upon a little larger. (At my parent meeting, the parents all got a chuckle out of that part.)

Sue Parenti
Westchester, Illinois
When I was a scout (in the 60's) we made our situpons with a strap to tie it around your waist while hiking. So, now that I'm a leader I had to use my old Girl Scout knowledge with my troop. We made ours using flannel backed table cloth fabric from the fabric store, filled it with carpet padding (real cheap at home improvement stores), laced the edges using household twine and made the "belt" part with a piece of regular clothes-line, long enough to wrap around the waist and tie a generous bow.

The kids loved it. They walked around the cabins with their sit-upons on even when they weren't hiking!

You do have to untie it to sit down, it's too tight around the belly if you try to sit with it tied.

Tammy Rice
Northern Horizons Community, Circle T Girl Scout Council, Junior Leader, Registrar, Event Director
School Recruitment Coordinator, Day Camp Director, First Aid and Lifeguard Instructor
Take an old pair of adult blue jeans and cut-off about three inches below where the legs come together. Sew across legs and across the top of the belt loops. This will secure the batting. The girls then unzip the zipper and stuff with batting. They can then use fabric paint and decorate the bottoms any way they want. Tie a long piece of cord through the belt loops and they can tie it around their waist on hikes or use it to carry the sit-upons. These were really cute. I can't wait to make them with my troop.

Kathi Reed
I saw the same blue Jean sit upons that Tammy Rice did only modified. Instead of stuffing with batting the troop uses the inside to store things like extra jackets, bandanas and money. It was so cute!!

Linda Gardner
Cadette Troop 2001
Patriots' Trail Girl Scout Council
I used an old shower curtain for my Brownie troop. One curtain made 12 sit-upons. We filled with newspaper (they could have been woven and they would have been more comfortable). Pieces were cut so that both sides were one piece--fold in half and then only 3 sides needed to be closed. Sealed the edges with duct tape (others have had girls 'sew' edges with yarn using the overhand stitch). Girls decorated with permanent markers. Seven years later, the ones I have are still going strong.

Another source of vinyl could be a business using vinyl for its products (auto interiors, for example). There used to be a place around here which would gladly donate the remnants.

Carolyn Ayers
Tierra Del Oro GS Council
Some of the nicest sit-upons I've seen were made from samples of vinyl wallpaper. My daughter's leader a few years ago went to wall paper stores and asked if they had any sample books they were throwing out and got plenty. They are already "cut" to size and the girls had some pretty neat prints to choose from. Hope this helps.

316th Rangers
Winnipeg, MB
Here is an idea for a situpon I made in Pathfinders. You need a carpet sample and two floor tiles. Remove the backing from one of the floor tiles and place it on the carpet sample. The decorated side of the tile will be touching the wrong (not decorated) side of the carpet sample. Fold the extra sides of the carpet tight onto the glue of the tile. You may have to cut the corners to get it as flat as possible. Remove the backing of the other tile and stick it to the glued side of the other tile. I hope this makes sense! It is best to use a very flat carpet sample, you could also use another tough fabric sample.

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