Category Archives: Interpatrol Activity

Troop Meeting Challenge: Roman Chariot Race

A Chariot ace during an Introduction to Outdoor Leader Skills Training Session
A Chariot Race during an Introduction to Outdoor Leader Skills (OLS) Training Session

As stated by John Sweet in Scout Pioneering, “The chariot race originated at Gilwell in the early days of Leader Training and for many years was used on every Scout Wood Badge Course as a classic demonstration of B.P.’s method in action:

  • the Patrol as the unit of activity
  • the immediate application of newly acquired skills (Square Lashing, Diagonal Lashing)
  • the construction of a basic unit in mainline pioneering (the trestle)
  • light-hearted competition between Patrols”

The classic chariot race has been run in a variety of ways. This one uses an H-Frame Trestle, which is the basic component of many pioneering projects. For that matter, in pioneering circles when we refer to a trestle, we mean the H-Frame, so there should be no confusion. As stated, there are a variety of ways to run a chariot race. One thing to note: depending on how the chariot is transported, it can be hard on turf, so think twice before dragging it on a nice lawn! That’s the very reason why one way to run it is to have the rider hold on as the trestle is literally picked up and carried by at least four patrol members. Many times, when the chariot is dragged, the “charioteer” simply stands on the ledger and holds onto the transom, as patrol members grab onto any part of the trestle they can reach. But, to imitate an actual chariot to the fullest extent, the rider should grab a hold of a rope serving as the “reins” while two other Scouts act as “wheels” keeping the chariot upright, as patrol members pull the chariot like horses using two hauling lines tied to the transom at each leg.

In mainline Pioneering the classic proportions of the trestle are as shown in the diagram, but for the chariot race, the trestle should be tailored to suit the charioteer.

From: Scout Pioneering – Patrols in Action, by John Sweet

This interpatrol activity can be presented indoors or outdoors. If indoors, and the trestle is dragged, care should be taken to avoid scuffing the floor of the church fellowship hall or damaging the carpet. The following is furnished for each patrol:

Materials (Heavier Version)

  • two 8-foot x 2 to 3-inch diameter spars for the legs
  • four 6-foot x 2 to 3-inch diameter spars for the ledger, transom, and cross braces (The ledgers can be 4 to 6 feet in length.
  • nine 15-foot lashing ropes
  • one 10-foot lashing rope for the reins
  • two 15-foot lashing ropes for the hauling lines

Materials (Light Version)

  • six Scout Staves
  • nine lashing ropes (6 feet will do for the 8 square lashings and a 10-footer for the diagonal lashing)
  • one 10-foot lashing rope for the reins
  • two 15-foot lashing ropes for the hauling lines
See Note 1 and 2. Adjust the angles between the ledger and the legs so they are less than 90º and make sure the width between the legs at the ledger is narrow enough so the charioteer can plant his feet right next to the legs.
See Note 1 and 2. Adjust the angles between the ledger and the legs so they are less than 90º and make sure the width between the legs at the ledger is narrow enough so the charioteer can plant his feet right next to the legs.

Note 1: When using Scout Staves (Light Version), it will be necessary to angle the legs inward from the ledger to the transom. When the angle between the legs and the ledger is less than 90º, the lashings are much less likely to slip down over the smooth surface of the Scout Stave. That will mean, the distance between the legs where the transom is to be lashed will need to be less than the distance between the legs where the ledger is to be lashed.

Note 2: Since the Scout Stave comprising the ledger will bow and possibly break if the feet of the charioteer are not planted as near as possible to the legs, it is necessary to lash the ledger to the legs at a width that will  correspond comfortably with the size of the charioteer.

On signal, each patrol will build a trestle as per the above drawing. As soon as their “chariot” is built and they have selected a “charioteer” (usually their lightest member), two members to hold the trestle upright, and their “horses,” they run a specified course or race to a turn-around-line and back to where they started.

Note: A Mark II Square Lashing can be used to spring the spars together at the X-brace, in lieu of a diagonal lashing.

Rope-Toss-Log-Lift Challenge

Racing over to the log!

If the site where you hold your meetings can feature a “permanent” crossbar about 10 feet high, then your Scouts can frequently practice and enjoy this activity whenever the opportunity is presented. Otherwise, erecting the crossbar is itself a mini-pioneering challenge, and if you have the grounds, can be regularly put up by a patrol or even just a couple of skilled Scouts, prior to or during as many meetings as desired.

Also referred to as the Rope-Throw-Log-Lift Game and the Heaving Bar, this is an activity requiring a series of rope-handling and knot-tying skills. Because the skills that are called into play aren’t normally combined in such a sequence, and because there’s an element of fast-paced, fun competition, those Scouts knowing how to tie the featured knots most often get a kick out of giving it a go. The activity can be a competition to complete the task in the fastest time between individual Scouts or played with a team of three Scouts, each assigned a specific task.

Here’s how Adolph Peschke describes this activity in the 1993 edition of the Pioneering Merit Badge Pamphlet:

Long log! (Isn't that supposed to be a timber hitch?)
Long log! (Good Half Hitch, but is that a Timber Hitch?)

This game is intended to develop the knot tying skills of an individual Scout or of a team of three Scouts. It is important to know that the knots used (clove hitch, timber hitch, sheep shank) are each tied in a typical application for each knot. Additionally, you will develop the skills of coiling and throwing a rope.

To prepare for this challenge, you should practice tying the individual knots and coiling and throwing a rope. The challenge starts for a single Scout with the rope coiled ready to throw. The rope is thrown over the cross spar. If the throw misses the mark, the Scout recoils the rope and throws again. If the throw is good, he uses the end of the rope he is holding to tie a clove hitch on the stake next to where he’s standing.

Next he moves to the end of the rope that was thrown over the cross spar and uses it to tie a timber hitch  around a short length of log (about 4 inches in diameter and 4 feet long). Then he ties a half hitch around one end of the log (forming a Killick Hitch).

To complete the challenge, he moves to the part of the rope between the stake and the upright structure, and ties a sheep shank to shorten the rope enough to suspend the log above the ground.

This is how it should look!
This is how it should look!

When the challenge is played with a team of three Scouts, the first Scout throws the rope over the cross spar and ties the clove hitch on the stake. the second Scout moves to the log and ties the timber hitch with the additional half hitch. The third Scout ties a sheep shank to shorten the rope and hold the log off the ground. The challenge comes when the game is played while being timed with a stopwatch. As a patrol, the times of the individual Scouts can be added up for a total patrol score.

Three Scouts at once!
Three Scouts at once!

The following materials will be needed so that three Scouts or three teams of Scouts can play simultaneously:

  • three 50-foot x 1/4 or 3/8-inch throwing ropes
  • two 8 to 10-foot x 2 to 3-inch legs
  • one 10-foot x 2 to 3-inch crossbar
  • two 15-foot x 1/4-inch lashing ropes
  • seven stakes
  • three 4-foot x 4-inch logs
  • four 20-foot guylines

To set up the upright structure, lash the cross bar to the legs with tight square lashings. About 3/4 of the way up each crossbar, attach two guylines with a roundturn with two half hitches. Stand up the structure where it will be positioned, and hammer the stakes about 12 feet out from the legs at 45° angles. So that good tension can be applied to each leg, you can attach the guylines to the stakes with a simple rope tackle.

On the throwing side, space out three stakes between the legs and hammer them in to the ground about 25 feet from the structure. On the other side space out the three logs.

SCOUT MEETING CHALLENGES MAIN PAGE

Rope-Toss-Log-Lift Challenge at the Jamboree

Scout Meeting Challenge: Free-Standing Flagpole

This design idea was retrieved from John Thurman’s Pioneering for the Patrol.

Planning their attack, pooling their resources in tying round lashings, using teamwork in applying the square lashings, and ingenuity in adding the guylines.
Interpatrol Pioneering Challenge

When the patrols have learned their round lashing and square lashing, they’ll be ready for this indoor challenge which gives them an opportunity to use what they’ve learned in a new way. Additionally, they get to plan their “attack,” pool their resources, use their ingenuity, and put into practice the teamworking skills necessary to complete the task.

Materials needed for each patrol:

  • six 5-foot Scout Staves
  • seven 6 to 10-foot x 1/4-inch manila lashing ropes
  • four light guylines
  • one 15-foot light line (for halyard)
  • one 3-foot cord (to make top loop for halyard)
  • two pencil-sized sticks (if needed to secure patrol flag to halyard through existing grommets)
  • their patrol flag

The challenge. Ask the patrols to each build a self-standing flagpole capable of raising and lowering their patrol flag. Have the necessary materials on hand, and present them with the following design:

NOTE: This challenge can be presented without the design! If no design is provided, and just the challenge is given as stated above, the Scouts will be confronted with having to figure out their own approach that will work! However, the design is ingenious and sooner or later worthy of being shared.

Some thoughts:

1) This self-standing flagpole is ideal when a flagpole is desired indoors (or outdoors when there’s no way to drive stakes into the ground or dig a hole).

Set a time limit and make it a race.
Set a time limit and make it a race.

2) Depending on the ceiling’s height, the flagpole can be built higher merely by lashing on additional pole sections.

3) To shorten the pole if the ceiling is lower than 10 feet,  just round lash two staves together.

4) Naturally, following the design, the Patrol Leader can have members of his patrol divide the tasks so that the pole and the support frame are constructed simultaneously.

Got it up!
Got it up!

5) The method of placing two 5-foot staves end to end, and lashing a third joining stave in the middle where the two others touch can be seen as somewhat of a departure, but will yield a very stable 10-foot flagpole, provided the four Round Lashings are tight and well-spaced.

6) The 3′ cord for the halyard loop can be fastened to the top stave in a variety of ways: a bowline with a clove hitch, a bowline with two half hitches, a doubled over rolling hitch, etc., etc.

7) The guylines can also be attached in a variety of ways (and will be), though rolling hitches around both the pole and the support frame are recommended.

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