All posts by Larry Green

Volunteer in the Boy Scouts of America

Pioneering Program Feature: Main Event Ideas

These are some ideas for a Main Event from the revised Pioneering Module of Program Features for Troops, Teams and Crews.

Pioneering0
Click above for an enlarged view.

The following three sample outing outlines can serve troop leaders as a point of reference, or as an actual framework, for the monthly main event relating to the pioneering program feature. Click on the small images to bring up a full-size view.

Pioneering1
Sample of an Essential Pioneering Main Event

Sample Challenging Pioneering Main Event
Sample of a Challenging Pioneering Main Event

Pioneering3
Sample of an Advanced Pioneering Main Event

Pioneering Program Feature: Information

This post is a component of the revised pioneering module in Program Features for Troops, Teams and Crews.

Related Advancement

What is Pioneering? – Pioneering is the knowledge and skill of using simple materials to build structures that are used in a wide range of Scouting activities. These skills are sometimes referred to as “backwoods engineering.”

Down through the ages, people have used ropes, spars, and simple hardware to build bridges, towers, and even their own shelters. In the early development of our country, pioneering methods were used in mining and transportation, to clear the wilderness, and to build roads and bridges. So it is understandable that the term “backwoods engineering” was applied.

SIngleTrestleThe same skills can be used by Scouts to build pioneering projects ranging in complexity from a simple camp gadget to a sturdy bridge.

Whatever the project, the same applied principles of physics, geometry, and math are used to build pioneering projects and structures. But, keep in mind that all the information on these pages is eventually used for a practical, hands-on application—that is, to build something.

Pioneering is a good foundation for many Scouting activities. You must learn, and then use, such disciplines as planning ahead and teamwork. You can also put to use the basic skills learned in rank advancement, such as knot tying.

But most of all, pioneering provides a practical way to experience the joy of accomplishment when you’ve built something that is needed for yourself or others; it can be something that makes living in camp easier and more comfortable. Pioneering can be both fun and challenging when you use your skill and knowledge to choose the right materials (ropes and spars) and build a usable structure.

Dish Washing RackIdeas for Main Event Camp Gadgets

Ideas for Main Event Pioneering Projects

jamboree-monkey-bridge-1View: Ropes and Spars

Refer to: “Pioneering Stumbling Blocks for those Who haven’t gotten Started Yet”

Relevant Pioneering Skill Videos with Further Information

Page06 Safe.jpg

In all Scouting activities, safety must come first. In and through the challenges, fun, and rewards that go hand in hand with Pioneering, there can be no substitute for prudent behavior and common sense. As you begin your pioneering activities, safety must be your first consideration. The following safety points are some that you and your group should keep in mind:

Pioneering Safety Points

1) Before and after each use, check all equipment, ropes, poles, tools, and hardware to ensure they are in good working condition.

2) All equipment should be treated with respect and used appropriately for its intended purpose.

3) Appoint a safety officer who, along with the rest of the group, should constantly check the work site to keep it clean of debris. Equipment should be kept in an organized fashion before, during, and after its use.

4) During the construction of a project, only one person should give instructions and signals.

5) There should always be plenty of room between the person carrying spars and people around them.

6) Do not work during rainy or wet conditions. Rope and spars become slippery, as does your footing. Knots can slip when wet and become unsafe.

7) Wear clothing to fit the season and wear gloves when necessary to protect your hands.Work smart and do not lift more than you can handle.

8) Spars resting on the ground are not for standing upon. They can unexpectedly roll causing injuries.

9) When lifting a spar to facilitate the frapping of a Tripod or Shear Lashing, care should always be taken to ensure the person working the rope doesn’t injure his fingers.

Page07 Safe
Like with this Single A-Frame Bridge they built at the national jamboree, Scouts should only climb on a structure they make after it’s been completely inspected.

10) Take regular breaks to discuss the work in progress and ensure that everyone understands what is required of them.

11) Use extra care when using heavy mallets to pound in pioneering stakes.

12) For added safety, heel in the legs of a structure from 4 to 6 inches.

13) If the design calls for a certain size and type of rope or spar, do not substitute something of lesser strength.

14) Before allowing general use, run a complete test to see everything is working correctly.

15) Keep checking all anchors on the pioneering project as strain is applied during use.

16) The number of people using a platform should be strictly limited to the maximum number established beforehand and announced by the safety officer.

17) There should only be one person on a monkey bridge at a time.

18) Jumping or playing around while on a structure unacceptable. Like with this Single A-Frame Bridge they built at the national jamboree, Scouts should only climb on board their project after all lashings are tight, and the structure has been completely inspected.

19) While crossing a monkey bridge, people shouldn’t bounce or purposely swing or sway on the ropes, nor should anyone race to see how quickly they can get across.

20) Those waiting their turn to cross a monkey bridge should stay off the ropes between the anchors and the bridge framework.

21) Everyone should stay completely off a monkey bridge whenever the foot and hand ropes are being tightened, or the spanner ropes are being adjusted.

22) When the day’s work is complete, untie all knots, coil all ropes, check all hardware, and store everything in its proper place.

Page08 Hoist
Raising any tall structure requires all hands on deck—some lifting, some hoisting, and some with lines to assure the project isn’t over-pulled. The appointed safety officer needs to be alert to call out the signals and oversee the operation.

Resources and References

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Pioneering Information Troop Meetings Main Event

22 Pioneering Safety Points

Page06 Safe.jpg

In all Scouting activities, safety must come first. In and through the challenges, fun, and rewards that go hand in hand with Pioneering, there can be no substitute for prudent behavior and common sense. As you begin your pioneering activities, safety must be your first consideration. The following safety points are some that you and your group should keep in mind:

1) Before and after each use, check all equipment, ropes, poles, tools, and hardware to ensure they are in good working condition.

2) All equipment should be treated with respect and used appropriately for its intended purpose.

3) Appoint a safety officer who, along with the rest of the group, should constantly check the work site to keep it clean of debris. Equipment should be kept in an organized fashion before, during, and after its use.

4) During the construction of a project, only one person should give instructions and signals.

5) There should always be plenty of room between the person carrying spars and people around them.

6) Do not work during rainy or wet conditions. Rope and spars become slippery, as does your footing. Knots can slip when wet and become unsafe.

7) Wear clothing to fit the season and wear gloves when necessary to protect your hands.Work smart and do not lift more than you can handle.

8) Spars resting on the ground are not for standing upon. They can unexpectedly roll causing injuries.

9) When lifting a spar to facilitate the frapping of a Tripod or Shear Lashing, care should always be taken to ensure the person working the rope doesn’t injure his fingers.

Page07 Safe
Like with this Single A-Frame Bridge they built at the national jamboree, Scouts should only climb on a structure they make after it’s been completely inspected.

10) Take regular breaks to discuss the work in progress and ensure that everyone understands what is required of them.

11) Use extra care when using heavy mallets to pound in pioneering stakes.

12) For added safety, heel in the legs of a structure from 4 to 6 inches.

13) If the design calls for a certain size and type of rope or spar, do not substitute something of lesser strength.

14) Before allowing general use, run a complete test to see everything is working correctly.

15) Keep checking all anchors on the pioneering project as strain is applied during use.

16) The number of people using a platform should be strictly limited to the maximum number established beforehand and announced by the safety officer.

17) There should only be one person on a monkey bridge at a time.

18) Jumping or playing around while on a structure unacceptable. Like with this Single A-Frame Bridge they built at the national jamboree, Scouts should only climb on board their project after all lashings are tight, and the structure has been completely inspected.

19) While crossing a monkey bridge, people shouldn’t bounce or purposely swing or sway on the ropes, nor should anyone race to see how quickly they can get across.

20) Those waiting their turn to cross a monkey bridge should stay off the ropes between the anchors and the bridge framework.

21) Everyone should stay completely off a monkey bridge whenever the foot and hand ropes are being tightened, or the spanner ropes are being adjusted.

22) When the day’s work is complete, untie all knots, coil all ropes, check all hardware, and store everything in its proper place.

Page08 Hoist
Raising any tall structure requires all hands on deck—some lifting, some hoisting, and some with lines to assure the project isn’t over-pulled. The appointed safety officer needs to be alert to call out the signals and oversee the operation.

FAVORITE PIONEERING KNOTS: DOUBLE SHEET BEND

Put most simply, the sheet bend is a very useful knot. It’s a very basic joining knot for tying two ropes together, and when a lot of pull is applied, it’s easier to undo than a square knot (Reef Knot). It is most always referred to as one of the most essential knots to learn, and is required to learn before a Scout can become First Class.

The sheet bend’s outstanding claim to fame is how well it holds when tying to ropes together of different sizes. For that matter, as its name implies, it was used to connect a corner of a sail to a rope by attaching the line (“sheet”) to a bight formed in the sail.

The Double Sheet Bend is most effective when used to tie a small pliable rope to a large stiff rope or to a slippery rope.

NOTE: The bottom three images in the photo montage below show the knot being tied by taking a roundturn around the back of the bight before passing the running end underneath itself. In Ashley’s Book of Knots, the correct way to tie a Double Sheet Bend is to pass the running end underneath itself twice.
Double Sheet Bend

Skylon “Floating” Flagpole

SkylonFlagpole2

A flagpole suspended off the ground by a series of lines, so that it appears to be floating, can be a really neat project. The structural principle has been referred to as tensegrity, and is based on using one half the lines to lift the pole off the ground, and the other half to give it stability, supporting it in a vertical position. On occasion, Scouts choose to use more than three upright support poles, but just like with a simple flagpole employing three supporting guylines, three upright poles provide the required balance needed to hold the pole up straight. The longer the support poles, the higher off the ground the flagpole can go.

SkylonGroup
The Crew

There are many ways Scouts go about constructing  a suspended flagpole. The following materials were used for this particular flag display:

  • one 20-foot bamboo pole (flagpole)
  • three 10-foot x 3-inch pine spars (upright support poles)
  • nine pieces of rebar, sawed to 3 feet each
  • six 50-foot lengths of 3/8-inch manila (guylines)
  • three 3/8-inch double pulley blocks
  • 50-foot length of 1/4-inch braided nylon (for the halyard) along with a couple of clips
  • metal ring
  • six pioneering stakes
  • wooden mallet (for driving in the stakes)
  • club hammer (for driving in the rebar)
  • roll of friction tape
  • lengths of 1/4-inch braided nylon cord
  • binder twine

The following initial steps were taken for this particular flag display:

  1. SkylonPully
    Double Pulley Block and Tackle

    Where the flagpole will be placed, 9 feet from the center of an equilateral triangle, three holes are made, 4 inches in diameter and 2 feet deep.

  2. A double pulley is securely tied to the top of each 10-foot support pole and a 50-foot guyline is reeved through each sheave.
  3. A 10-foot upright support pole is planted in each hole which is packed with excavated material. Three lengths of rebar are pounded in around each spar.
  4. A span of friction tape is applied to the areas of the 20-foot flagpole, where the lines will be tied (bamboo is slick)
  5. The metal ring is tied to the tip of the 20-foot pole and the halyard is threaded through.
  6. A 1-1 anchor is installed about 9 feet behind each 10-foot spar
SkylonMasthead
Jury Mast Knot Applied over Friction Tape

The following rigging procedure was followed for this particular flag display:

  1. A tight jury mast knot (#1168 in The Ashley Book of Knots) is applied over the friction tape at the bottom and 4 feet from the top of the flagpole.
  2. The guylines from each upright support pole are tied to corresponding loops in the jury mast knots at the top and bottom of the flagpole with two half hitches, the tail of which is tightly seized to the standing part using binder twine with a West Country Round Lashing.

The following procedure was followed to raise and support this particular flag display:

  1. Skylon 1-1
    1-1 Anchor

    When the flagpole is rigged and everything is in place, two or more Scouts lift up the pole in the center of the triangle, and hold it erect.

  2. One Scout mans each lifting guyline tied to the bottom of the pole. On signal, they all pull these lifting lines until the strain assumed by the Scouts holding the pole erect is replaced by the lower, lifting guylines.  (Note: If the pole is taller or heavier, an additional Scout needs to man each guyline attached to the top, in order to stabilize the pole as it’s being held up, keeping it from tilting or falling. However, tension is only applied to offset any overt tilting.)
  3. SkylonTop
    Top Stabilizing Guylines

    When the lifting guylines have taken up the strain to hold the flagpole at the desired height (about half the length of the upright support poles protruding from their holes), a butterfly knot is applied at the appropriate place and they are secured to the 1-1 anchor with a rope tackle.

  4. When the lower guylines are well secured, the upper, stabilizing guylines can be adjusted so that the flagpole is held up in a straight position. When the flagpole is even, the upper lines in turn are secured to their respective anchors with a rope tackle.

—> An alternate approach can be taken in which the flagpole is first stabilized in an upright position by the three upper guylines. These can then be temporarily secured, readying the flagpole to be raised off the ground. Once standing in a vertical position, upward force is applied to the flagpole by a Scout or Scouts holding on to the bottom and lifting, in conjunction with a simultaneous pulling on the bottom lines and a simultaneous easing off on the top lines.  This lifting process is illustrated HERE.

Anchoring Pioneering Projects II

VIEW VIDEO

Any pioneering project that cannot safely stand by itself needs to be attached to something that will securely hold it in place. It has to be anchored. Sometimes nature will provide a tree or rock in just the right location or you might be able to shift the project’s placement to take advantage of a natural anchor. On all other occasions, anchors need to be built that will assure the structure’s stability.

Stakes – When nature does not provide a solution, anchors can be built using strong pioneering stakes. The common size of stakes for most Scout Pioneering projects is 2-1/2-inches in diameter and about 24 to 30 inches long. After cutting the stake to this size, cut a point on one end. It’s good to bevel the top edge to minimize mushrooming or splitting when the stake is driven into the ground. Long-lasting pioneering stakes are made of hardwood, such as oak or hickory.

Drive the stakes into the ground at about a 20° angle. Soil conditions can vary and will dictate how large and long a stake you need. The main thing is to make sure all stakes are deep enough so they don’t wobble or budge at all.

Under no conditions should tent pegs be used for pioneering stakes. They’re neither long or strong enough to make a safe anchor.

Page52 AnchorsMallet – When driving stakes into the ground, it’s best to use a wooden mallet. Using a metal sledge hammer can more easily damage the stake. To make a wooden mallet, cut a 4-inch diameter piece of hardwood, such as hickory, elm, or sycamore, to about 11 inches length. It should weigh about four pounds. Drill a 1-1/8 inch diameter hole to mount the handle. The handle can be made from a 24 inch length of hardwood (similar to making a stake). Use a knife or ax to round the end of the handle to fit the hole in the mallet head. Secure the handle in place with a wedge placed crosswise to the length of the head.

Guylines – When attaching a guyline, make sure its contact with the stake is as low to the ground as possible. If the guyline is placed or slips higher on the stake, there will probably be enough leverage to pull the stake loose. Guylines should be secured to the structure about 3/4 of the way up. To determine how long a guyline should be, measure the height at the point where its attached and double that distance. That’s how far away the anchor should be from the pole. For example, if the guyline is attached 10 feet up the pole, the anchor should be a minimum of 20 feet from the base.

Page53 Anchors13-2-1 Anchor – As the name implies, the 3-2-1 anchor is made by driving stakes in a series: three stakes, then two stakes, and then one stake to form the anchor. First drive in the set of three stakes. Next drive in the set of two stakes about 24 Page53 Anchors2inches away from the first set. Finally, drive a single stake in the ground about 12 inches from the two-stake set.

Connect the stakes by tying a rope from the top of the three-stake set to the bottom of the two stake set, and from the top of the two stake set to the bottom of the single stake. Use at least two loops of 1/4 inch manila rope, or six to eight loops of binder twine. Then twist the rope tight using a small stick as a tourniquet. After the rope is twisted tight, push the end of the stick in the ground to keep it from unwinding.

Depending on the strain the anchors need to withstand, you can use other configurations, such as 2-1-1, or 1-1-1, or even 1-1 for a light strain.

Log-and-Stake Anchor – This type of anchor is easy to make and can hold a considerable amount of pull. You can tie the line directly to the log, or you can use a ring with a rope grommet as shown in the photo below. To make the log-and-stake anchor, place a log 4 to 6 inches in diameter perpendicular to the pull of the line. Then drive in four large stakes in front of the log. Next, slip the rope grommet through the ring and then slip the ends of the grommet around the log. Drive a second row of stakes 24 inches behind the front stakes. Then anchor the front stakes to the rear stakes with a tourniquet made of binder twine or rope.

Page54 Anchors2

When building anchors, always be sure they are in direct alignment with the strain being applied.

Strops – When attaching lines to a natural anchor such as a tree or large rock, a strop can be used very effectively. Splice a thimble with a large ring to a 10-15-foot length of 1/2-inch diameter manila or polypropylene rope. A piece of canvas or burlap should be used to protect the rope from sharp edges of a rock or to protect the bark of the tree from rope burns.

Ring Shackle

Page45 ShortRope GrommetsRope grommets are useful when attaching a long line to an anchor of stakes. A large grommet can be made by splicing together the ends of a 10-foot length of 1/2-inch polypropylene or manila rope. If you don’t have a spliced grommet in your pioneering kit, tie the ends of the rope with a carrick bend. Be sure to secure the ends. The grommet you use must be made of a larger-diameter rope than the lines they’re connecting, to avoid creating a weak link in the chain between the structure and the anchor.

SinglePullRope grommets can be applied in a variety of configurations. In the above photo, a large ring connects the three ropes from a monkey bridge (left) to a rope that is reeved back and forth between that large ring and the ring of a rope grommet (right), which in turn is attached to the anchor.

Single-Pull, 2-Ring, Monkey Bridge Anchor Configuration

Coiling and Throwing Rope

Link to: Older Pamphlet Info.The following text is by Adolph E. Peschke as presented in the 1998 printing of the 1993 edition of the Pioneering Merit Badge Pamphlet:

You might never be called upon to throw a line to someone in distress; however, it’s the Scouting way to be prepared. In addition, many pioneering activities call for coiling and throwing a line to get it across a creek or ditch, or up and over a high tree branch. How you make the coil is very important. To learn how to coil and throw a length of rope. select a 40-foot length of 1/4-inch manila rope. Make sure both ends are whipped.

CoilsCoiling the Rope To coil the rope, first secure one end of the line to your belt or loosely around your wrist.* If you are right-handed, coil the line into your left hand. If you are left-handed, coil the line in your right hand.

As you loop the rope over your hand, make each successive coil a little smaller that the one before. This is important to keep the coils from fouling as they pay out when thrown.

Throwing a RopePreparing to Throw the Rope Now transfer approximately two-thirds of the coils from our non-throwing hand to your throwing hand. Next, drop one of the loops from your non-throwing hand to allow enough rope for a free swing between your hands. Hold your non-throwing hand out so that those coils will peel off smoothly.

Throwing the Rope To throw the rope, swing the coils in your throwing hand in an arc, much like you pitch a softball. After making two or three “warm-up” swings, release the rope. a  little practice will help you determine where your release point should be to get the most distance.

As the rope is released, the weight of the rope will pull the coils from your non-throwing hand until the entire rope extends out in a straight line from where you’re standing.

*If for any reason you may need to get rid of the end of the rope without becoming entangled in it, before throwing, tie the end to fixed object or have a partner hold on to it.

Tripod Straddle Seat

Often times at a campsite, there are no picnic tables with benches, or array of thick, wooden discs from downed trees positioned around a fire site, or fallen tree trunks, or a large outcrop of smooth boulders. So, through the years, the answer to the query, “what will I sit on during a camping trip?” has given rise to many solutions. Some of these are: a square sheet of plastic, a 5 gallon bucket, an ice chest, a carry case, an upside down recycle bin, and of course a wide variety of folding and collapsible camp chairs and stools.

Camp Seat
Tripod Straddle Seat

When it comes to actually fashioning a camp seat by making one from what you have on hand, there have been some creative ideas. One featured in Boys’ Life  consists of a tarp attached in three places to the legs of a large tripod. But, actually building a real-working chair, by lashing together various-sized poles, can be tedious and time consuming. Also, the finished construction is frequently rickety and uncomfortable.

Seat Blond ScoutWe know, B-P loved camp gadgets, and recently, I was asked to provide a design for a camp chair made with just ropes and poles—something that can be built in a relatively short period of time by one Scout. In the past, I’ve given thought to this kind of campsite improvement, but could never think of anything that would really work…until now. What I’ve come up with is surely not original, but for me, it’s new, and most of all, it works. As I type this, I’m sitting in it!  It’s really a simple design. In actuality, it’s very similar to the self-standing garbage bag holder, but requires a more concerted approach. After all, it’s not for trash; its for supporting one’s body.

MATERIALS

  • three 32-inch sticks for the legs
  • three 24-inch sticks for the bottom braces
  • one 10-foot length of binder twine for the tripod lashing -or- one 10-foot lashing rope
  • six 6-foot lengths of binder twine for the square lashings -or- six 6-foot lashing ropes
  • one 15-foot length of 1/8 to 1/4-inch braided nylon cord for the seat

Materials

The sticks you use for this seat are vital to its stability. They have to be strong. It’s going to be rare to get natural wood on the camping trip that’s straight enough and strong enough to furnish these materials. This would be ideal, BUT, Leave No Trace and Outdoor Ethics dictate we don’t cut these sticks from living trees. If they can be harvested from downed trees, great!  If Scout staves were, for some reason, to be cut in these lengths, I’d say use them. They’d be perfect. (Don’t go cutting up Scout staves!) Good broom sticks are 1-inch in diameter and they’re available by the box full. Cut those up. They can be used again and again for a variety of Scout Pioneering gadgets.

PROCEDURE

Seat Brown ScoutThere are two main objectives when building this camp seat. One: the tripod legs must be spaced evenly from one another so the structure is well-balanced. Two: the lashings and how the webbing is attached to the legs must be tight enough to keep from slipping.

Prepare the sticks: Since it’s so important to have everything even, before lashing can begin, points where the sticks will meet should be marked out. If the materials will be used repeatedly, it will be practical to mark out a complete series of points on every stick so that each can be used interchangeably.

On the 24-inch sticks, mark out 2 inches, 4 inches, and 6 inches from each end.

On the 32-inch sticks, mark out 2 inches, 4 inches, and 6 inches on the bottoms for the braces, 20 inches up from the bottom for the tripod lashing, and 30 inches up from the bottom for the webbed seat.

Note: When using smooth poles, in order to keep everything from sliding, use a bastard cut wood rasp file to cut a slight roughed out indentation around the diameter of the sticks at the above points. This should be done before a Scout assembles his seat.

123

Lash together the tripod: With the 32-inch sticks parallel to one another, lash them together at the 20-inch mark with a tight tripod lashing. Racking turns are preferred, weaving the wraps in and out between the poles. See that the line bites into the sticks as much as possible where they have been roughed out. Spread the legs out making sure the middle leg, which will eventually be the front leg, is on top of the two outside legs.

456

Lash on the bottom braces: Turn the tripod upside down. With tight square lashings, lash the 24-inch braces to the legs, marrying them to legs at the corresponding markings: 2-inch to 2-inch, 4-inch to 4-inch, 6-inch to 6-inch. Doing so will assure the legs are spread equally apart into an equilateral triangle. Again, make sure the line bites into the sticks as much as possible where they have been roughed out.

Attach the framework for the mesh seat: Turn the tripod right side up. Attach one end of the 15-foot nylon cord to one leg at the 30-inch mark with a tight clove hitch. Leave enough tail in the short end and in it tie a small loop with a bowline. With another tight clove hitch, join the long end of the cord to the next leg at the 30-inch mark, pulling the cord taut between the legs. Form the half hitches of these clove hitches on the outside of the legs, and make sure the line is biting into the roughed out part of the sticks. Do the same with the third leg.

After a clove hitch has been applied to each leg, carry the end of the cord through the loop of the bowline. Pulling it taut, secure it to the loop with two half hitches like you would with a rope tackle. The cord now forms a triangle which will serve as the frame for weaving a seat.

Weaving 123

Weave the seat: Pulling the cord taut as you go, attach it to the nearest part of the triangular frame with a clove hitch and then stretch it diagonally to the opposite leg of the triangle. Tie a clove hitch there and proceed to the next leg of the triangle, tie a clove hitch, and so on. When you have zig-zagged throughout the entire triangle, you will have enough line to tie additional clove hitches down the middle of the triangle where the line intersects with previous portions. Finish by tying a clove hitch to the middle of the first leg. Any excess line can be attached with additional half hitches to the nearest 32-inch stick.

Weave 456

Sit on your camp seat: The front of the seat is the leg of the tripod that is on top of the two others. Straddle this leg and sit down. If your chair has been formed symmetrically and lashed together tightly, and if the webbing was tied on tightly in the right places, you will now be perched very comfortably!

3 Scouters

 

 

 

What’s with the Lark’s Head

When tying the basic, oft-used, simple “two-half-hitches” (double-half-hitch), instead of TwoHalfHitchesapplying a clove hitch around the standing part, there’s a thing about mistakingly tying a lark’s head. This accident rears its head time and again, and many Scouts (both youth and adult) somehow don’t recognize the difference. Fact remains, tying a lark’s head around the standing part (cow hitch) doesn’t provide the same holding effect or friction as forming a clove hitch. Mostly, it does the trick, BUT, it’s not the same and shouldn’t be considered as such.

TautLineHitchA clove hitch is formed by tying two half hitches in the same direction. The lark’s head is made up of two half hitches tied in opposite directions (see above video).

This becomes a “bigger” issue when tying a taut-line hitch. If the half hitches aren’t tied in the same fashion (if the running end isn’t spiraling around the standing part in the same direction), instead of a rolling hitch around the standing part, what you get is a lark’s head along with an extra round turn. This provides less friction. It will not grab the guyline as well, and hence is less effective.

In addition to the campcraft  jobs it does so well, the lark’s head is useful in Pioneering too. Besides coming into play to hang all kinds of stuff, it’s how we start off the Filipino diagonal lashing.

VIDEO: How to Tie Two Half Hitches (Double Half Hitch)
VIDEO: How to Tie Taut-Line Hitch

Zeppelin Bend

VIEW VIDEO: How to Tie a Zeppelin Bend

ZeppelinKnotThe Zeppelin bend is such a secure joining knot, it’s reputed to have been used by the US Navy used it to moor airships (zeppelins). It’s easy to tie, will not fail, and most significantly, it’s easy to untie. Its reliability is shared by other bends, but unlike the water knot which is ideal for joining straps, the zeppelin bend won’t jam even after a heavy strain. Despite its appeal as an almost ideal bend, this knot is not widely known.

Pioneering Use

  • Excellent for joining two flexible lines that will be placed under a heavy pull:

 

Zeppelin6

  1. With the running end of the left line, form an underhand loop with the running end extending from the top (looks like a ‘6’).
  2. With the running end of the right line, form an overhand loop with running end extending from the bottom (looks like a ‘9’).
  3. Laying the left and right side loops next to one another, it looks like a ‘6’ and a ‘9’.
  4. Place the right hand loop on top of the left. Notice the running end of both lines are positioned on the outside of this configuration.
  5. Carry the running end of first one loop, and then the other, over, around and then through the “tunnel” created by both loops, so the running ends extend out on opposite sides.
  6. Dress the knot by pulling on the running end and the standing part of each line.

Large Patrol Raft

Down through the decades, Scout Pioneering has always consisted of building bridges, towers, and…RAFTS. Raft building provides some unique challenges, and is fun in many ways. Whenever you don’t have a boat or canoe, and there’s a desire to float on, or across, a body of water, making a raft is what commonly comes to mind.

Here the objective was to make one large enough to float everyone who built it—at the same time. Eleven Scouts were present to build the raft, so the final project was to make one that could carry all eleven. Of course that’s more Scouts than are in a regular patrol, hence the name, “Large” Patrol Raft.

The materials on hand were as follows:

  • four 14-foot bamboo poles, about 4 inches in diameter
  • eight 8-foot bamboo poles, 2 inches in diameter
  • six 55-gallon drums
  • one 8-foot x 3-foot, lightweight, plywood board,
  • lashing ropes

The key to lashing together a raft where the frame would be high enough off the water so the Scouts would stay dry (it was a cold winter day), was to make sure the 14-foot poles were close enough together so the drums could be tied fast, below the framework, and remain there! These long, parallel, lateral poles had to be at a distance narrower than the drums, but wide enough so the drums could securely nestle between them.

None of John Thurman‘s books on Pioneering specify exactly how to tie on the drums. It’s just suggested not to use the same rope for a series of them, to assure if one comes loose, they all don’t. The Scouts decided to use, in this case, a 12-1/2-foot, 1/4-inch manila lashing rope, and secure one end to the outside pole with a simple two half hitches, leaving a long tail in which they tied a bowline to form a fixed loop. They then ran the other end under the drum, around the other pole, up over the top of the drum, and through the fixed loop. This way, they were able to put a good deal of strain on the line, without it sliding around the drum, and tie it off with a couple of half hitches, just like with a rope tackle.

The project was a success. They all fit on and the raft floated! For raft building as it pertains to Scout Pioneering, refer to the post: Raft Building.

Japanese Mark II Square Lashing in Boy Scout Handbook!

After being excluded in all previous editions, the 13th Edition of The Boy Scout Handbook features the Japanese Mark II Square Lashing—a very good thing! Referred to simply as “The Mark II Square Lashing,” it’s included along with the other lashings in Chapter 12.

Many different things, both big and small, contribute to increasing the BSA’s rate of retention. In its own seemingly small, but unique and interesting way, this lashing is an actual example. On several occasions, I’ve heard adults and older Scouts remark they wish they knew this lashing when they were a Scout or when they were younger—and if they had, they would have done more pioneering. When it comes to pioneering, the Mark II Square Lashing increases Scouts’ willingness, receptivity, and most of all ability to readily become active in this timeless Scouting activity. Troops definitely become more able to embrace the many rewarding Pioneering Skill Challenges that contribute to making Scout meetings fun with positive outcomes.

Compared to the clove hitch method, Scouts love it. It’s much more simple to tie and some declare it’s even easier to make tight. After he attended a pioneering training session at the 2015 NOAC at Michigan State University, celebrating the 100th year anniversary of the Order of the Arrow, one appreciative adult, who had not yet been acquainted with this lashing was heard to remark, “If I gain nothing else during the week, the fact I learned this lashing will be enough.”

The sad part has been, during district, council and area events, simply because they tied a lashing that wasn’t in the handbook, Scouts have been disqualified, penalized, and even insulted, resulting in confusion, hurt feelings, and disillusionment. That’s why, in the 13th edition there should be absolutely no doubt that the Mark II Square Lashing IS a square lashing and NOT an “alternative to the square lashing.” (first printing page 374) That way when it’s stipulated that square lashings are required for a Scouting competition, there’s no confusion! Any Scout or Scouter involved in the building of pioneering projects throughout the year tie square lashings all the time. To most all of them, the Mark II Square Lashing is what is tied whenever a square lashing is tied. Period. For many, that’s how it’s been for all their years as an adult volunteer—happily involved in unit to national-level pioneering programs.

The following is a copy of what was initially submitted through the Boy Scout Development Task Force as an addition to or replacement for page 396 in the 12th Edition of the Boy Scout Handbook. (What’s included in the first printing of the 13th edition has no photographs, but the content is correctly presented.):

Mark II

The Guided Discovery Process

The following piece was composed for a BSA ScoutCast. The concept applies admirably to pioneering when Scouts, who have the proper “tools” and are capable and ready, care to embrace the construction of any-size pioneering project.

splThe Guided Discovery Process is a fancy term for what? Guided Discovery is an approach where Scouts are asked a question which leads them to examine a situation, and then discover the best way to proceed. Put another way, Guided Discovery enables Scouts to think for themselves in order to solve problems and find solutions. This approach is Scout-based. By Scout-based I mean the focus is on the learning and the Scout, not on the teaching and the teacher.

Asking a question is a big part of this process. Asking the right questions takes as much skill as giving the right answers. The idea is, the right kind of question is going to get the Scouts thinking. It’s their thinking that leads them through a path of discovery where they can figure out for themselves what they need to do.

When Scouts are faced with a challenge or have a problem, it’s natural they’ll frequently have there own questions. But with Guided Discovery, we, don’t just spoon feed them the answer. Instead, in order to guide them through this path of discovery, we present them with a counter question—a question which requires them to find their best answer by applying what they know, using their resources, and coming to their own valuable conclusion. And why is their conclusion so valuable? It’s, because whatever a Scout learns through a process of discovery is his. It’s something he’s arrived at through his own efforts. So, he owns it.

Guided discovery as a process. There’s a lot that junior leaders have to go through before they can take the reins and run the troop. All through their ranks and as they mature, Scouts are gaining knowledge. Not just facts, but skills and techniques too. Let’s talk about a brand new troop where we want to enable the newly elected SPL to run things. With the Guided Discovery Process, the first thing he needs is a vision. He’s can be given a picture of a troop that’s involved with an exciting program that reflects what they want, they’re learning, they’re advancing and they’re having a lot of fun. And also, everything’s planned and carried out by them. In this vision, the only time the Scoutmaster’s in front of them is for a minute at the end of the meeting. The rest of the time, it’s all up to them.

Now once the Scout is given a vision like this, the second thing he needs is the strong desire to make it happen. We’ll assume he already has desire, that he’s motivated to be an effective Senior Patrol Leader.

The third necessary thing any junior leader needs are the prerequisite tools to carry out their job. And here, it’s the Scoutmaster’s responsibility to make sure they learn or at least have access to all these necessary tools. For example, the new SPL needs to know that putting up the Scout sign is a means to getting the troop’s attention. This is a basic tool. Now, discovering how to use this tool most effectively, that’s something else. See, this is a technique. And techniques can be gained… through Guided Discovery.

Back to the Scout sign. Like maybe the SPL had a terrible time at a meeting to get his troop quiet when he held up the sign. After the meeting, the Scoutmaster might ask,  “So, how do you think things went tonight? Were you able to control the troop the way you’d like?” And the SPL might answer, “The troop doesn’t ever really get quiet when the sign goes up.” The Scoutmaster might then ask a guiding question like, “Well, when you hold up the sign, what do you think the Scouts see?” Now, after mulling this over, if the SPL just scratches his head, the Scoutmaster might ask, “What do you want them to see?” That question should serve to further guide him and get his wheels turning.

Through this process, he can start zooming in and find his own answer. If he pictures the troop as he’s holding up the sign, he might remember how even some of his own leaders were still carrying on. Ah-ha!  There’s a key! He’s gotta make it clear to his leaders that as soon as he puts up his sign, they need to quickly get quiet and put up theirs. This way, the rest of the troop is going to have a good example to follow. What’s important here is that he comes to the conclusion on his own. He was guided to find a solution for himself. but it’s actually his discovery. See how this is different than just telling him the Patrol Leaders Council leads by example!?

So through guided discovery, a junior leader can find the solution to his problem and gain needed techniques. Learning these techniques by discovering them is a way he can make these techniques his own. You know what I mean? When he finds a solution to his own problem, through his own efforts, he owns that solution!

So, now as he gains techniques, he can use them to do a good job. And this is good. Because doing a good job gives him confidence. And with confidence, a motivated junior leader can start using his own initiative to make everything better. Junior leaders using initiative is amazing. All I can say is, when this happens, it’s awesome! (So the process? A vision, a desire, the tools, the techniques to use them, gaining confidence, and finally using initiative.)

How does a Scoutmaster shift the attention off himself as the leader to the Senior Patrol Leader? When a Scoutmaster is approached by the SPL with a question or problem, with guided discovery, he won’t just dole out hard and fast answers. Instead, again, he asks a counter question. “This is your troop. What do you think needs to be done?”  If it’s not a matter of health and safety, then reflecting the situation back onto the SPL with a question, is shifting the attention off of himself. As for the rest of the troop, have you ever seen T-shirts for the adults with the back saying, “Ask the Senior Patrol Leader?” I even came across a little, round, patrol medallion sized patch for a Scouter’s right sleeve saying, “ask the SPL.”

How does the Scoutmaster instill his knowledge to the Senior Patrol Leader? Well, first, by inspiring him with a shared vision, and of course encouraging him whenever appropriate, then by providing him with all the necessary resources so he can do things independently. Along the way, the Scoutmaster serves as a mentor, but a Scoutmaster really needs to lead by following one step behind. Can you picture that? That means, he knows where the SPL and the troop are heading and what they need, but from there, he enables them to discover things on their own.

Some other examples of the Guided Discovery Process. The December, 2015 Scoutcast addressed the advantages of always having a Plan B.  Plan-B-Prepared. A perfect example of a Guided Discovery question that will get a Scout thinking is: “What if?” Asking Scouts questions beginning with what if is a good way to get them thinking about alternatives and also getting them to develop their troop’s resources.

Here’s a couple more guided discovery scenarios: Recently, I videoed a troop and saw two Scouts carry a third through a 4-foot wide track as part of an activity. Are you familiar with Handicap Obstacle Course? Anyway, these two Scouts really struggled to carry the third. They hadn’t learned the “two handed carry?” or the “four-handed seat?” Now, after their struggle, it could just be explained to them how to do these carries. But, it would be better to ask them, “How would you like to find out how to carry an injured person a whole lot easier, even if he was heavier?” and then guide them: “Where can you see how to do this in your own handbooks?” They’re most likely gonna want to check this out, because after what they just went through, they’re definitely ready to learn something better than what they did, but the emphasis is on them to discover it themselves, and that’s what carries a whole lot more weight. See, when we pour ourselves into finding our own solutions, we become invested in the process. When someone makes an investment, they’re much more likely to feel involved. Like, think about this:  Won’t you be much more likely to read a book if you buy it, as opposed to someone just giving it to you?

Another scenario, and I like this one, is about using woods tools to prepare tinder and kindling and then build and light a fire. As Scout leaders, before a Scout tries anything where safety enters the picture, we must make sure they have the necessary tools. In this case, the prerequisite tools are knowing how to safely use woods-tools, and knowing how to be careful with fire. So, here’s a Scout who we observe knows how to properly use a knife and axe, and he’s prepared all the tinder and kindling he needs to start and feed a cooking fire. He’s got everything he needs, a safe area, a proper surface, a fire bucket nearby, but, before he tries to light a fire, he mixes together all his tinder and kindling into the fire pit, and then, try as he will, each time he puts a match to this mess, it goes out. He finds he can’t light a fire. He wants to, right? But he’s come face to face with a stumbling block, and he recognizes this. He’s definitely ready to learn what needs to be done next. But, using guided discovery means we don’t show him how to do it, and we don’t hover over him providing guidance every step of the way either. He needs to get actively involved with learning how to do this, himself. Remember, with this approach, it’s all about the learning, not the teaching. Guided Discovery happens when we ask questions. Here, we might ask something like, “Why do you think this fire won’t stay lit?” Let him think about this. A follow up question might be, “Looking at all your tinder and kindling here, what will burn the easiest when you touch a match to it?” The Scout will naturally answer the light weight stuff—the tinder. Now, after getting him thinking about what needs to be done, he should be given the opportunity to explain what he’s going to do, and if his explanation is good, then let him do it.

How does a Scoutmaster know what his role is?  In Scoutmaster Position Specific Training, after being introduced to Scouting’s Aims and Methods, right before looking at the Patrol Method, there’s a 20 minute session where the qualities of a Scoutmaster are discussed as well as basically what a Scoutmaster’s role is— what he must be, what he must know, and what he should and shouldn’t do. Also, in the Troop Leader Guidebook Volume 1, Chapter 15, it’s called “Adult Leader Roles and Responsibilities.” It’s very well spelled out.

Are there any resources available to assist Scoutmasters and Advisors on how to facilitate leadership? Beyond Scoutmaster Position Specific Training, Woodbadge goes more deeply into communication and leadership. But additionally, when it comes to assuring junior leaders are successful, I really feel IntroductIon to Leadership Skills for Troops serves as an invaluable resource. There are also some books out there that are all about Youth Leadership Training and Working the Patrol Method, and they’re filled with really good stuff. And, here’s one more good resource—Scout leaders who themselves have well run, successful troops. Most any Scoutmaster or Assistant Scoutmaster, who’s passionate about what he does, loves to talk about his troop, especially when it comes to talking about what his Scouts do to run things well.

Additional Information Let’s refer to the three basic roles of the Scoutmaster (1) of course, is to make sure the rules of the BSA and chartered partner are followed, (2) is the Scoutmaster should be a good mentor and positive role model, and the big (3) and this is where we’re placing the emphasis, is to train and guide Scout leaders. The Guided Discovery Process does this, by asking the right kinds of questions, and then getting out of the way.

1) Guided discovery provides the framework within which, Scouts can lead themselves to realize a vision they have.”

2) Provide the Scouts the objective, equip them with the tools and the skills or the resources to learn how to use them, and turn them loose.”

3) Scouts will learn to lead by practicing leading and experiencing the results of their hands-on leadership efforts.”

4) Why” and “How” questions enhance the Scouts’ ability to make decisions, which is one of the central goals of empowerment.”

Don’t you love the word empowerment? When Scouts run their own troop, they’ve been empowered to do this. A troop run by motivated Scouts who have with the right skills, and techniques, is bound to have good membership and the highest retention rate.

 

Consistency, anyone?

This short commentary is one part surmise and three parts observation. It’s composed of a series of events with a predictable outcome. Except to those familiar with Scout Pioneering, and Scout competitions, the whole scenario will appear obscure. But to the Scouts involved, it’s far from obscure. On the contrary, whenever something like this happens, it’s downright confusing, and without being melodramatic, maybe a little traumatic too. No real names are used in this account, and no fingers are being pointed at any individuals. The characters in stories like this are always well-intentioned and without malice. There are no wrongdoers involved… just victims.

Scout Pioneering is about building structures with poles and rope. They can be useful, they can be for fun, and often they’re both. Knowing how to tie knots and lashings is a basic Scouting skill that’s been a part of our movement for over a hundred years. In all bonafide Scout Pioneering settings, when two poles cross each other, but do not touch, a Diagonal Lashing is often used to spring the poles together. The lashing is so-named, because the wraps run diagonal to the poles. Additionally, those who are experienced in building pioneering structures accept the fact that joining two poles together that cross from 45º to 90º calls for a Square Lashing. There’s more contact between the rope and the poles than with a Diagonal Lashing, and hence a Square Lashing provides a better hold. The Square Lashing gets its name from the fact the wraps run square to the poles. The name has nothing to do with at what angle the poles cross.

Enter “Ned”: Without knowing any better, Ned, a well-meaning Scouting volunteer, reasons quite innocently the Diagonal Lashing should be used whenever Scouts join two poles that cross each other at less than a perpendicular angle. So from this viewpoint, which, because of its name, appears logical, Ned concludes Scouts should use Diagonal Lashings when making an A-frame. After all, the angles formed by the poles are less than 90º. Without any real, hands on exposure to pioneering, he’s not familiar with the fact the lashing is reserved for springing two poles together when they cross but don’t touch. To him, his assumption about the lashing is obvious. He proceeds to write up a description of a Scouting activity featuring his misunderstanding about the use of Diagonal Lashings. Since he’s an intelligent, well-respected Scouter…somehow, it get’s printed, and then again reprinted, in official BSA publications.

Enter the “Raccoon Patrol”: As part of a troop that regularly embraces large pioneering projects, the Raccoon Patrol is well-versed in building A-frames. During inter-patrol competitions at Scout meetings, they do well in A-frame Chariot Races. On outings they build camp see-saws where the roller bar for the plank is supported by two heavy duty A-frames. They have also helped to build several monkey bridges relying on sturdy A-frames as sub assemblies. Belonging to a unit with a successful pioneering program, they’ve been taught to make their A-frames using three Japanese Mark II Square Lashings. In addition to being supported in certain BSA publications, their grasp of Scouting skills stems from Scouters who’ve served on the pioneering staff at national jamborees and who, themselves, have learned from some of the most esteemed Scout Pioneering legends.

Enter “Nancy”: On staff at summer camp, Nancy volunteers to conduct an A-frame Chariot Race as part of the camp-wide skills event towards the end of the week. Her reference material is one of the BSA publications containing Ned’s well-meaning misconception, directing Scouts to construct an A-frame using Diagonal Lashings. Without any real experience putting together an A-frame, she’s basing her thinking on what she has read. Furthermore, since the content is featured in an official publication, she requires each patrol taking part in the activity to build their A-frame in just that way.

Reenter the “Raccoon Patrol”: Participating in the camp-wide competition, the Raccoons confidentially arrive at Nancy’s station, all revved up to be the fastest patrol in the A-frame Chariot Race. Nancy proceeds to explain her rules for putting together the A-frame, which immediately confuses the Raccoons. In their attempt to comply, they bungle the Diagonal Lashings, something they seldom use. At the top, they ask if they can tie a Square Lashing in lieu of a Shear Lashing, and Nancy acquiesces. But, they are further penalized because Nancy insists that if they’re going to tie a Square Lashing, it must start and end with a Clove Hitch. She has never seen or heard of a Japanese Mark II Square Lashing. It isn’t in the official publication she is using as her reference. At that point, the Raccoon’s performance is so poor, they don’t even bother to race. With disgruntled comments, they leave Nancy’s station. They are hurt and bewildered.

Are these kinds of scenarios rare at Scout skill events? The answer is, no. They take place at Boy Scout summer camps, district and council camporees, and OA conclaves. Scouts have been penalized, disqualified, and even politely insulted by facilitators who base their event’s rules on material that contradicts what some may have adopted from other official publications. This is a sad state of affairs. Scouts become frustrated, angry, and disillusioned—feelings that shouldn’t obtain at a Scouting event.

What about this conflicting information presented in different official publications? Are there ways around the confusion? The answer is, yes. At the time of this writing, a national task force is taking steps to assure the publications all provide compatible information pertaining to Scout skills—approaches that are sensible, practical, and proven to be the most efficient. This is a lengthy process and will take time. Everything that appears in official BSA publications should be exemplary, but change happens slowly. Until Scout skills are presented consistently across the board, the following is felt to be an advisable practice: during inter-troop, district, or council events, in competitions like the A-frame Chariot Race, let the patrols complete the challenge in anyway they can. Don’t permit their efforts to be circumscribed by a rigid set of exacting rules. As long as what they build is safe and gets the job done, the Scouts should be allowed to experience success.

Plastic Tarp: No Grommets

No Grommets 2
Plastic Sheet Shelters

In the light that Pioneering has been referred to as “Scout Engineering,” many projects can be considered a pioneering-related venture when Scouts are confronted with fashioning and building something requiring intelligent use of their resources, consideration of angles, trajectory, and some campcraft skills.

Erecting a little A-Frame tent using a plastic sheet that has no grommets is a nifty challenge and just such an opportunity. Each individual, or pair of Scouts, can simply be furnished with a plastic sheet and some line for their guylines and directed to have at it and give it a go. Alternatively, Scouts can be provided all the following materials:

  • a 6’x6’ plastic sheet
  • six smooth stones
  • six short guylines (four 3′ lengths for the corners, and two 9′ lengths for the front and back. Paracord does the trick just fine fine.)
  • six stakes
  • a mallet
  • two 4’ poles for the uprights
A Plastic Sheet Shelter Campsite
A Plastic Sheet Shelter Campsite

Not DIRECTIVES, just suggestions:  Secure the stone to the plastic using a Roundturn with Two Half Hitches. Attach the front and back guylines to the upright poles using an Open End Clove Hitch with an additional Half Hitch.