All posts by Larry Green

Volunteer in the Boy Scouts of America

Delivering the Goods

Of course you’ve gotta love this (and all) Norman Rockwell paintings, but this one is always timely, and perhaps now more than ever. The kind of Scouting adventure that younger Scouts can look forward to needs to be evidenced by the troops they observe. And then of course, that “Promise of Scouting” NEEDS to be delivered!

Membership in the Boy Scouting division is down, and has been diminishing for many years. At the time of this writing, girls haven’t yet officially joined what will be referred to as Scouts BSA, and even when this comes to pass, there’s still a VERY IMPORTANT principle that should never be (and should never have been) neglected. That is: troops should actively engage in, and on a regular basis demonstrate in the public eye, timeless, traditional outdoor skills.

Just like for the Cub Scout depicted in the painting, it’s these traditional outdoor adventures that embody the promise of Scouting, and experiencing them require the acquisition of the basic, and always relevant skills. Obviously, when the youngster in the painting is old enough to join those older guys, he’s going to have numerous experiences that give rise to rich Scouting memories. And, he won’t drop out. Why would he? Look at the size of those actively involved individuals clad in khaki! And, look how they’re actively involved in an experience laced with challenge and fun!

The Diamond Hitch

The Diamond Hitch was many times more prevalent a couple of decades past, and was featured throughout a range of Scout publications. It’s not actually associated with Scout Pioneering, but it’s still an example of nifty rope work. Though there’s not nearly as many packboards in use today, the Diamond Hitch still can serve as the most practical approach to securing a bundle to an object, even in today’s modern world of bungee cords and the like. The following diagram and description was scanned from the ’76 printing of the 1967 Fieldbook.

Brazilian Balance Track


Pioneering projects can be built to serve a practical purpose, as in a bridge connecting two banks of a stream providing a shortcut to the dining hall, or simply for recreation as in a swing boat at a Scout Expo. The most desirable project constructed just for fun is the one that can get a lot of use. The more action it sees, the the more it can be considered a success. The Brazilian Balance Track, so dubbed because it came to our attention in a FaceBook post from the 88º GE / RJ Scout Group Atol das Rocas of Brazil as part of a training given by Chief Jorge Kuma Stotuka, is simply irresistible! Most everyone passing by is going to want to give it a go! For that matter, as revealed in the video, a group of Scouts will literally line up with individual Scouts waiting their turn to get on and see how easy or hard it is to make it from one end to the other.

Racking Turns

Basically, the track consists of four quadpods connected by three ingenious, little challenges. Three of the quadpods also provide their own less daunting challenge. Variations in construction will be determined by the length of the spars connecting the quadpods, in other words, the degree each challenge is more or less demanding hinges on the distance between the quadpods and subsequently the amount of stepping, swinging, and negotiating required to traverse each section.

Here is the basic layout:
• Four 12-foot quadpods with four 8-foot crossbars about 6-inches from the butts, spaced about 10 feet apart
 • Inside 2nd quadpod: one 8-foot spar lashed to the center of the front and rear crossbars
Inside 3rd quadpod: one 10-foot diagonal pole connecting the side crossbars
Inside 4th quadpod: three evenly-spaced 8-foot spars lashed to the outside crossbars
Between 1st and 2nd quadpod: seven 3-foot ladder rungs, suspended about 1 foot above the ground from two parallel, 12-foot handrails
Between 2nd and 3rd quadpod: two 8-foot, lengthwise, swinging poles, one for each foot, suspended in two places about 1 foot above the ground from two 12-foot handrails

Between 3rd and 4th quadpod: three, swinging, 3-foot rungs, each suspended in four places from two 12-foot handrails and lined up so they’re parallel to the handrails about 1 foot off the ground

NEW SCOUT PIONEERING BOOK

Cover Photo

Scout Pioneering, Good Ol’ Fashioned Outdoor Fun, is filled with all the information, illustrations, and instructions a unit needs to get an effective pioneering program off the ground and flourishing. Along with the author’s first-hand experience as a Scout leader who has run successful pioneering programs in his own troop and at the Philmont Training Center, it draws upon the expertise of Scouting’s most revered pioneering legends. The author wrote the updates and revisions to the next edition of the BSA’s “Pioneering Merit Badge Pamphlet,” and in addition to enlivening the pamphlet, this book provides a wealth of additional resources, invaluable to a troop wanting to provide its Scouts with rich pioneering opportunities that are memorable and fun.

  • 312 clearly formatted pages
  • Over 250 pioneering-related photos bringing the text to life and capturing real Scouts in action
  • Revealing links to over 40 of the author’s content-relevant,  BSA-recognized how-to and Scout meeting activity videos.

Chapters on:

  • How to get started and keep Scouts coming back for more
  • Skills
  • Scout Meeting Activities
  • Camp Gadgets
  • Project Building
  • Program Development

Scout Stave Floating Flagpole


 
A crew of Scouts went about erecting a FLOATING FLAGPOLE made entirely of Scout staves. They lashed together five staves for the pole and two staves each for the three supporting uprights. The idea was to rely upon the strain of the guylines to keep the uprights straight, without sinking them into the ground. The problem was the two staves making up each upright were just too rickety to effectively withstand the stress created during the hoisting process.

All in all, it worked, but attention should be directed to the lashings joining the stoves for the uprights. —> Use longer lashing ropes or apply three round lashings, and, make sure they’re really tight!

Camp Gadgets made from Scout Staves & Broomsticks

These camp gadgets were featured in the Pioneering Village at the 2017 National Jamboree. All were fashioned  out of Scout staves and precut lengths from broomsticks.

Left Column, from the Top: Dish Washing Station, Camp Table, Simple Camp Table, Hand Wash Station, Single Fire Bucket Holder, Tripod Straddle Seat / Right Column from the Top: 15′ Flagpole, Clothes Drying Rack, Simple Tool Rack, Garbage Bag Holder

VIEW VIDEO of the above gadgets as they were featured in the Pioneering Village during the 2017 National Jamboree.

Simple Camp Table

This small camp table can be comprised almost completely of Scout staves. It’s 100% functional and provides a convenient raised surface for personal, patrol, or general use. It’s simple design makes it quick and easy to set up, and it is remarkably stable.

Make the table legs. Start by lashing together four Scout staves into two sets of shear legs with 6-foot manila lashing ropes. If you prefer, square lashings can be used instead of shear lashings. (In lieu of Scout staves, straight poles an inch or so in diameter are just fine.)

Lash on the table top supports. Next, with two square lashings, lash a 2-1/2-foot stick to connect each set of shear legs about 30 inches off the ground. (A Scout stave cut in two is ideal.)  This will form two A-frames, one for each side of the table. Make sure each of these support sticks are lashed on straight and at the same distance from the bottom end of both sets of legs.

Securely hold up the A-frames. This is surely the best part. Find the midpoint of a 20-foot line. At about two feet away, tie a clove hitch at the top of one of the Scout staves of one of the A-frames. Repeat this process on the other side attaching the line with a clove hitch to one of the Scout staves of the other A-frame.

Secure each end of the 20-foot line to stakes driven into the ground on either side, about 5 feet away, so the line extends out evenly from each end of this table framework. You can use round turns with two half hitches, taut-line hitches, or rope tackles. Here’s the beauty of this configuration: you can manipulate the distance between the A-frames by adjusting the clove hitches, and provide optimum stability to the table by placing a good, reasonable strain on the line at each stake. It will stand up in an impressively rigid fashion.

Lash on the table top. Finally, lay 12 Scout staves, (or similar poles) side by side, on top of the 2-1/2-foot support sticks, and using binder twine, lash them on with floor lashings.

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Sequential Programming: Monkey Bridge


Troop 86 from Sumter, SC wanted to do a pioneering project and they selected the Double A-Frame Monkey Bridge. Great place to start, and a great way to illustrate sequential programming. What skills enter into the picture? A whole bunch! And with each step along the way, there’s an activity wherein each campcraft skill can be put into action, in a fun way, as reinforcement.

B.-P. wrote: “I am inclined to suggest to Scouters that in addition to the technical details of knotting, lashing, and anchorages, there is an educative value in Pioneering since it gives elementary training in stresses, mensuration, etc.” In addition to the “mensuration” skills that come into play when setting out the area for the bridge’s A-frames and anchors, a good deal of measuring takes place to assure the A-frames are as close to identical as possible, the pairs are joined together in similar fashion, an the spanner ropes are spread evenly. (Hand in hand with the building, Scouts do a lot of planning.)

 tape-measure-2  tape-measure-1

—> What is Sequential Programming?

SEQUENTIALLY-PRESENTED SKILLS AND RELATED ACTIVITIES

Open-Ended Clove Hitch – How else would you want to secure the hand ropes to the A-frames? — How-to Video / Activity Video

Using Half Hitches to tie a Clove Hitch – A simple process always makes it easy to tie a clove hitch and finish many types of lashings. Several are used to attach the spanner ropes. — How-to Video / Activity Video —

Round Lashing – Three or four can be used to join together the bottoms of the A-frames on each side. Round lashings can also be used to attach a flag pole(s) to an A-frame(s). — How-to Video / Activity Video

Square Lashing – This project can use fourteen of them for both building the A-frames and then joining them together. — How-to Video / Activity Video

3-2-1 Anchor – The skill is to carefully drive in the stakes at the proper angle and applying the tourniquets to join the groupings. — Explanatory Video

Roundturn with Two Half Hitches – You can use this pioneering knot to attach the hand ropes to the anchors. — How-to Video / Activity Video —

Butterfly Knot and Rope Tackle – This configuration can be used to adjust the tension on the foot rope. — How-to Video 1, How-to Video 2 / Activity Video

—> BUILD THE BRIDGE

Pioneering Program Feature: Meeting Plans & Ideas

The following was extracted from the Program Features section of Troop Leader Resources:

Pioneering Information Troop Meetings Main Event
John Thurman, Gilwell Camp Chief for twenty-five years, said, ”There is only one activity in my experience where it pays to start at the top, and that is swimming. It is true that pioneering has often been directly or unexpectedly linked with swimming, but if any patrol, troop, or Scouter tries to start pioneering before establishing a sound background of basic Scout training in regard to knotting and lashing, then pioneering will become unpopular and will go down in the history of the Patrol or Troop as a failure.”

 
OBJECTIVES
This month’s activities should:

  • Teach basic knot,  lashing and pioneering skills
  • Provide opportunities to put those skills to use
  • Introduce principles of engineering as Scouts build pioneering structures.
  • Offer opportunities to practice planning, problem solving, and teamwork
  • Build self-confidence

LEADERSHIP PLANNING
As a leadership team, you may want to discuss the following items when choosing pioneering as your program feature during your planning meetings:

Troop-Meeting-Planning-Form
Click above for fillable troop meeting planning form.

PREOPENING IDEAS

Preopening Ideas on Troop Program Resources

  • As Scouts arrive, play the 2013 Pioneering Area Jamboree Video
  • Hitching Challenge – Set up vertical hitching posts and enable Scouts to apply underhand loops to the posts forming half hitches. Hold hitching races.
  • Rope Tackle Tug-of-War – Reeve a long length of 1/2-inch manila rope through a metal ring fixed to an anchor point, and pass the end through the fixed loop of a butterfly knot, tied 15 feet up the line. Provide the opportunity for Scouts to experience the mechanical advantage gained by using a rope tackle by having one pull on the end that passes through the fixed loop, towards the anchor point, and one or two others pull on the other end of the long line, away from the anchor point.
  • Using round lashings, early arrivals build a flag pole using three or four Scout staves supported by three guylines, flying the US flag (with or without a halyard) for the troop’s opening ceremony. If indoors, use two Scout staves and construct a self-standing flagpole with or without a halyard.

OPENING IDEAS

Opening Ideas on Troop Program Resources

GROUP INSTRUCTION IDEAS

Half Hitches and Round Lashing

Project the following videos:

Square Lashing

Project the following video:

Tripod Lashing

Project the following video:

Anchoring Pioneering Projects

Project the following videos:

Floor Lashing 

Project the following video:

SKILLS INSTRUCTION IDEAS

3 Categories

Half Hitches and Round Lashing

  • EssentialOn a Scout stave or a horizontal hitching bar with a 6-foot, 1/4-inch manila lashing rope, learn to tie a series half hitches, proceeding from the right and proceeding  from the left.
  • Learn to join two Scout staves together with two round lashings.

  • ChallengingReview the above skills.

  • Advanced
    • Review the above skills.
    •  Outdoors, build a flag pole using three or four Scout staves supported by three guylines. Before standing it up, attach a patrol or other flag to the top stave.

Square Lashing

  • EssentialUsing a 6 to 7-foot lashing rope, learn to join two Scout staves together with a tight square lashing.
  • Practice the lashing until it is easy to tie both tightly and neatly.

  • ChallengingReview the above skills.
  • Using a 15-foot, 1/4-inch manila lashing rope, join two 3-inch diameter spars with a tight square lashing

  • AdvancedReview the above skills.
  • With the 3-inch diameter spars, practice passing the ends of the lashing rope between yourself and another Scout, both maintaining maximum strain on the wraps and fraps, assuring the lashing will be tight to the greatest extent.

Tripod Lashing

  • EssentialUsing a 10-foot lashing rope, learn to lash three Scout staves together with a tripod lashing, properly spreading the legs and standing it up.

  • ChallengingReview the above skills.
  • Using three additional Scout staves or shorter poles, join each leg of the tripod with another, using six 6 to 7-foot lashing ropes and tight square lashings

  • AdvancedReview the above skills.

Anchoring Pioneering Projects

  • EssentialLearn how to tie a butterfly knot.
  • Learn how to form a rope tackle

  • ChallengingReview the above skills.
  • Learn how to build a 1-1 anchor.

  • AdvancedReview the above skills.
  • Learn how to build a 3-2-1 anchor.

Floor Lashing

  • EssentialLearn how to tie a floor lashing, and practice by using binder twine to lash dowels (as floor spars) onto Scout staves (as platform supports).

  • ChallengingReview the above skills.
  • With two floor lashings, lash Scout staves or other sticks about an inch in diameter to two 1-inch diameter supporting poles, as if you’re making a table top.

  • AdvancedReview the above skills.
  • Using the design for a simple camp table as a point of reference, lash together a table.

BREAKOUT GROUP IDEAS

Getting Ready for the Main Event

  • Patrols review printed copies of 22 Pioneering Safety Points
  • Patrols select the project(s) they will build during the main event
  • Patrols make a complete list of the materials they will need for  the main event.
  • Menu Planning
  • Duties Roster

Preparation for the meeting’s game or challenge 
Select those challenges requiring the lashing skills already presented during instruction.

GAME AND CHALLENGE IDEAS

CLOSING IDEAS

Back to top of page

Pioneering Information Troop Meetings Main Event

What Pioneering Merit Badge SHOULD Be!

“Pioneering is practical and character building: the two essential ingredients of any program material for Scouts.” (Lord Baden-Powell)

Mew Top Montage

Pioneering Merit Badge, which as we all know used to be required for Eagle, should give Scouts a taste of pioneering! Of course they should be taught about safety and gain some general knowledge, but much more importantly, they should be introduced to the Scouting traditions and the fun that this activity embodies. They should DO pioneering!

SIngle Trestle Montage

Taking part in building pioneering projects contributes to the development of self-esteem and provides a sense of accomplishment. It necessitates working hard and working together towards a common goal. Besides being really cool and impressing people in and out of Scouting, building a real pioneering structure requires the mastery of a set of useful Scout skills that can be applied over a lifetime of outdoor activities—activities for both work and recreation.

A-Frame Bridge 5

Pioneering Merit Badge should be presented as a series of planned challenges and opportunities leading up to memorable experiences that are rewarding and unique. The recipients of this merit badge should be inspired to share their acquired skills and the fun they had with other Scouts in their unit.

Bridge Building

As Gilwell Park Camp Chief, John Thurmann  stated, “To me, the over-riding reason for presenting Pioneering is that boys like it. There are few activities which, properly presented, have a greater appeal to the Scout than Pioneering and ever since the introduction of Wood Badge training, Pioneering has been given a full share in the program of Scouters’ training. In the summer months when Scouters at Gilwell are building bridges, towers, and rafts, and boys are in camp, it has been all too common to hear from the boys such remarks as, ‘I wish we did that in our Troop’ or ‘We never do anything like that’.”

Tower Montage

But there are reasons for Pioneering other than the fact that Scouts like doing it. B.-P. wrote: “I am inclined to suggest to Scouters that in addition to the technical details of knotting, lashing, and anchorages, there is an educative value in Pioneering since it gives elementary training in stresses, mensuration, etc., and it also develops initiative and resourcefulness to use local material. Additionally, it gives practice in team work and discipline.” In other words, (“Pioneering is practical and character building: the two essential ingredients of any program material for Scouts.”)

CHippewa Montage

Using Half Hitches to Finish Many Lashings


Though the clove hitch is most always taught by laying two turns around the pole to form an ‘X’ and then passing the running end underneath, the approach presented in this video is an essential one that should come into play anytime a lashing is finished with a clove hitch. This video, extracted from the Clove Hitch and Half Hitches video, communicates this basic process in an understandable and straightforward manner.

Whenever I observe a Scout or Scouter trying to finish a lashing by tying a clove hitch, and they’re not first tying one half hitch up against the wraps, and then another snugged up tight against the first, well…I first feel sorry for them, and then I either need to demonstrate how to do it much easier, quicker, and better, or shake my head, tolerate my frustration, and say nothing.

Anyone who is into lashing poles together, for whatever reason, is already using this super-simple technique—or should be.

As we often quote, John Thurman said, “The first and everlasting thing to remember about the clove hitch is that it is composed of two half hitches. What a very obvious thing to say, but there is hardly one Scout in a hundred who learns what it means. If only we can get Scouts to learn that if you make one half hitch and another half hitch and bring them together they make a clove hitch, what a lot of time the Movement would save in the amount of fiddling and fumbling that goes on when a clove hitch is the order of the day. We would be able to start in the sure knowledge that we can make clove hitches and pass quickly on to better and brighter things.”

Enough said!

The Misunderstood Clove Hitch