Pioneering Program Curriculum VIII: Building a 3-2-1 Anchor

3-2-1 Anchor
3-2-1 Anchor

This is the eighth post in a series that will eventually comprise an activity-based, unit pioneering program curriculum.

VIII. For a wide range of pioneering structures, proper anchoring is crucial for both stability and safety. When nature doesn’t furnish natural anchors as in trees or boulders in just the right location, it becomes necessary to build your own. Of the two most prevalent approaches to building a very strong anchor, the 3-2-1 Anchor is the most simple. Also, depending on the amount of strain the lines must withstand, this form of anchoring can be constructed in a variety of configurations.

  • By following the proper procedure, Scouts will work together and demonstrate they can correctly build a 3-2-1 Anchor.


  • six pioneering stakes 30-inch x 2 to 2-1/2 inches
  • two wooden tent stakes
  • two 1/4-inch manila lashing ropes for the tourniquets (an 8 to 10-foot and a 12-1/2 to 15-foot will do)
  • 30 to 50-foot x 3/8-inch manila rope
  • one heavy wooden mallet


With the supervision of the instructor:

  1. Strong Anchor for Pioneering Projects
    Strong Anchor for Pioneering Projects

    Scouts take turns driving three pioneering stakes 18 inches into the ground in a row at a 20° angle using a large wooden mallet.

  2. Scouts take turns driving two pioneering stakes also 18 inches into the ground, at a 20° angle next to each other, spaced 2 feet away from the three-stake set.
  3. In the same way, Scouts take turns driving one more pioneering stake into the ground spaced a foot away from the two-stake set.
  4. As an attentive group, Scouts join the ends of the longer 1/4-inch manila rope with a sheet bend and form a double loop around the three-stake set and two-stake set. Using a tent stake, they twist the loop tight in a tourniquet. The loop is positioned at the top of the three-stake set to the bottom of the two-stake set. Once it is tight they push or tap the tent stake into the ground to keep it from unwinding.
  5. With the shorter 1/4-inch manila rope, Scouts repeat the tourniquet process between the two-stake set and the single stake.


  1. As an attentive group, Scouts tie a butterfly knot about 15 feet from one end of the 30 to 50-foot rope.
  2. Scouts pass the end of the rope that’s 15 feet away from the butterfly knot around the bottom of the three-stake set. (No rope grommet will be necessary for this activity.)
  3. Scouts proceed to form a rope tackle by passing the same end through the fixed loop of the butterfly knot.


  1. One Scout grabs a hold of the hauling end of the rope tackle, and two Scouts grab hold of the other end. On signal, to test the effectiveness of the rope tackle (and indeed the 3-2-1 Anchor!), a short tug of war ensues between the one Scout against the two Scouts.
  2. Scouts take turns at either end of the long rope.



Author: Scout Pioneering

Volunteer in the Boy Scouts of America

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: