Square Lashing as presented in Bryan on Scouting

As presented in Bryan on Scouting:

Always tie a square knot correctly with this tip

Tying a square knot might be confusing for Scouts. “Right-over-left” or was it “left-over-right?”

For the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing some camp hacks that the BSA’s national camping subcommittee has shared with us. This week’s tip involves a technique to tying a square knot correctly every time. Special thanks to Larry Green for the tips and text below.


The square knot, also known as the reef knot, is first and foremost a binding knot. Its primary function is to secure a line tightly up against an object as when tying a bandage, a package or the flaps of a wall tent at camp.

When it’s time to tie a square knot, there’s a surefire way to always tie it right, and all you need to do is use your eyes.

  1. Tie the first half-knot.
  2. Position the ends so the blue end projects down on one side, and the red end extends up on the other side. It’s as if each end has its own area — like each is in their own “zone.” That’s where they need to stay.
  3. When the ends are brought together to form the second half-knot, they don’t enter the other “zone” by crossing behind the other end. They just meet in the middle. The knot is finished by carrying either end over and around the other.
  4. It makes no difference how the first half-knot is tied (over-under or under-over, right-over-left or left-over-right).
  5. When bringing the ends together to form the second half-knot, keep them in their own “zones.” Don’t cross over into the other end’s area.
  6. This way, you’ll always tie a square knot, and never a granny knot.

Tying a square knot from this visual perspective comes in handy, because often Scouts will lose track of whether they went over-under or under-over, or right-over-left or left-over-right. Once they get the knack of seeing how each end stays in its own “zone,” this approach is fool-proof.

Watch the video of this technique below.

Half Knot (West Country) Whipping as presented in Bryan on Scouting

As presented in Bryan on Scouting:

Try this easy technique next time you need to whip a rope

Whipping a rope can be a little tricky. If your Scout is struggling with the traditional method, you can teach them another way, called “West Country whipping.”

For the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing some camp hacks that the BSA’s national camping subcommittee has shared with us. This week’s tip involves an easier way to whip a rope. Special thanks to Larry Green for the tips and text below.


Preventing the ends of rope from fraying is a process referred to as “whipping.” Learning how to whip the ends of a rope is one of the early requirements on the Scouts BSA advancement trail.

Indeed, there are many approaches to whipping a rope, but the one that’s used for the hundreds of lashing ropes in the pioneering area at national jamborees, as well as the 2019 World Scout Jamboree, is known as the West Country Whipping. What’s so special about this whipping? The answer is simple. It’s easy to teach and easy to tie, and most importantly, it’s easy to make tight. Hence, Scouts learn it more quickly and like it much better.

    1. Start by tying a half-knot, the way you would start a square knot, near the rope’s end.
    2. Continue by carrying the two ends of the whipping cord around the back of the rope, away from you, and tie another half-knot identical to the first.
    3. Keep repeating the half-knots, front and back, pulling each one tight.
    4. Form each half-knot the same way, either right over left, or left over right, so they interlock neatly together, and snug against the previous half-knot.
    5. Continue the process until the whipping is as wide as the rope’s diameter.
    6. Finish off with a tight square knot.
    7. Finally, the excess cord is trimmed.

Watch the video of this technique below.

Check out an easier way to whip a rope that holds much better!

Preventing the ends of rope from fraying is a process referred to as “whipping.” Learning how to whip the ends of a rope is one of the early requirements on the Scouts BSA advancement trail.

Indeed there are many approaches to whipping a rope, but the one that’s used for the hundreds of lashing ropes in the pioneering area at national jamborees, as well as the 2019 World Jamboree, is known as the West Country Whipping. What’s so special about this whipping? The answer is simple. It’s easy to teach and easy to tie, and most importantly, it’s easy to make tight! Hence, Scouts learn it more quickly and like it much better.

1. Start by tying a half knot, the way you would start a square knot, near the rope’s end.

2. Continue by carrying the two ends of the whipping cord around the back of the rope, away from you, and tie another half knot identical to the first.

3. Keep repeating the half knots, front and back, pulling each one tight.

4. Form each half knot the same way, either right over left, or left over right, so they interlock neatly together, and snug against the previous half knot.

5. Continue the process until the whipping is as wide as the rope’s diameter.

6. Finish off with a tight square knot.

7. Finally, the excess cord is trimmed. VIEW THE HOW-TO VIDEO

—> Sailmaker’s Whipping (stays put even under hard use)

The Most Simple Halyard

With this smack-your-forehead, it’s-so-obvious, single-flag configuration, there’s no measuring the exact distance between where the clips will be applied to accommodate flags with varying spaces between their grommets. It’s a simplistic approach that works well in light conditions for shorter periods of time.

Make sure the halyard line will be the right length, and tie a small carabiner onto each end. Before raising the pole, tie on a third carabiner to the top and clip the middle of the halyard through it. The clips on each end of the halyard attach to each of the two grommets of the flag forming one continuous loop with the flag itself joining each end of the halyard.

Attach the clips to the ends of the halyard with Two Half Hitches (left) Two Half Hitches with the end seized (middle), or Bowlines (right)

There’s one, important point to remember! The halyard by itself does not form a continuous loop unless the clips are linked together. This means, when the flag is not attached, if one end of the line happens to get pulled upward past arms reach, there’s very little likelihood it can be retrieved without lowering the whole pole. So, after the pole is raised, whenever the flag is not attached, always remember and be careful to join the two clips together!

Link the carabiners together whenever the flag is not attached.

Simple Rope Halyard

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 what used to be called the Boy Scouting division is down, and has been diminishing for many years. With the advent of girls joining what is now referred to as Scouts BSA, 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 challenges 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!

An Alternative Approach to Erecting a Better Clothes Drying Rack

Use the support ropes as guylines! Pound in the stakes about 4 feet out from the center pole.  BACK TO: A BETTER CLOTHES DRYING RACK

Guylines Only
Just like holding a flagpole erect, there’s no need to attach the center pole to a pioneering stake or sink it into the ground.

—> Holding a Simple Flagpole Erect

Camp Gadgets made from Scout Staves & Broomsticks

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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 is 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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