Category Archives: Simple Campsite Improvement

Garbage Bag Holder

Simple and Convenient!
Simple and Convenient!
Mighty useful in the camp kitchen!
Mighty useful in the camp kitchen!

This is about the easiest of all useful campsite improvements, But, beyond its simplicity, it’s just plain functional, adding mucho convenience!

Take three sticks, about 4 feet long and sharpen one end of each. (Tomato stakes work great.)

Hammer them into the ground deep enough to stand firm, spaced about 18 inches apart and forming an equilateral triangle.

Now place the edges of a plastic trash bag over the ends of the sticks.

Finally, secure the bag in place with a piece of cord using three Open-End Clove Hitches. Two 3-foot cords or a 6-foot lashing rope does just fine.

Self-Standing Garbage Bag Holder

 

Tool Rack

Tools are Organized, Accessible and Looking Good

Fundamentally speaking, as long as a campsite is safe and clean, all’s well. However, especially for longer term camps (or when displaying demonstrations of Scoutcraft skills), there’s definitely something to say for the added convenience of a campsite tool rack. Set up in a prominent location (in or near an axe yard), a tool rack serves as a reminder to put tools back where they belong. A place for everything, and everything in its place, especially wood tools, goes a long way in not just keeping things well-organized, but also towards limiting accidents.

Construction is very simple. Basically, all that’s needed are four poles; two 6-foot uprights, and two 5-foot cross pieces work fine. The cross pieces are connected to the uprights with four square lashings.

Tools are hung on the rack, suspended by a looped cord attached to the top cross piece with a lark’s head.

Scouts attach a 6' stave to a pioneering stake with two round lashings.
Scouts attach a 6-foot stave to a pioneering stake with two round lashings.

If the two upright’s cannot be sunk or hammered into the ground, pound in a couple of pioneering stakes and hold the uprights in a vertical position by lashing them firmly to the stakes with a couple of tight round lashings.

Click here for Tool Rack 2.

Check out a tool rack rain cover at the bottom of the post.

Forked Sticks and Crossbar

Notice the water bag suspended from a Scout stave tripod.
Jokes for the Cook: Leave-No-Trace Cooking Fire with Forked Sticks and Crossbar
Boiling up some water on a cold morning.

It’s a sight right out of the old frontier, a cooking fire with some game roasting on a wooden spit supported by two forked sticks. It’s easy to make, and the wooden spit is often a crossbar from which pots are suspended for boiling water and cooking food. In the photo to the left, the forked sticks are placed outside the fire ring and round lashed to two pioneering stakes driven into the ground deep enough to hold the sticks upright (click on the photo to catch the detail).

As this photo shows, if the crossbar is long enough, one side of the fireplace can be set up to simultaneously cook food over coals on a grill, in a frying pan, or in foil packets. If the fireplace is to be used for a campfire, and the crossbar is not needed, it can simply be lifted off and set aside.

Fire place with straight forked sticks
Fire place with straight forked sticks

This old fashioned camp gadget can also be set up without any lashing, as seen in the photo to the right. Just find a couple of straight sticks with a branch growing out at about 45° and saw them to size. (Procure them in a conservation-minded way!) Sharpen the bottom and the forked sticks can be hammered directly into the ground without breaking.

Once fashioned, these two prepared straight sticks, along with the crossbar, can be reused repeatedly on future front country outings. They’re a whole lot more portable than other gear that’s carted into a campsite, and very functional.

Simple Flagpoles

During the gathering period, a flagpole is lashed together using four Scout staves. A carabiner is tied to the top, a halyard is strung through, and the pole is lifted and secured with three guy lines. The flag is raised as part of the troop's opening ceremony.
Flagpole using 5 Scout Staves  erected for the Troop Meeting’s Opening Ceremony

Flags engender pride! Flying ’em high is great for Scout spirit, and making a flagpole is really easy. All you need are straight sticks (Scout Staves work great), rope for round lashings, rope for guylines, and three stakes.

View Video: Raising a Simple Flagpole Demonstration

Scout Stave Flagpole with a Halyard in the Pioneering Village at the 2017 National Jamboree

The key to making a simple flagpole out of shorter poles is round lashings and knowing where to tie them. The space where the two poles are joined, gets two tight round lashings—one on either side of the overlap and right near the ends of each pole. The length and thickness of the poles being lashed together will determine how much they need to overlap, and how many tight wraps need to be taken. Using 5-foot Scout Staves, you can simply overlap them about 10 inches with a couple of 6-foot lashing ropes. With practice, a Scout patrol can make a   15-foot flagpole out of four Scout staves in a few short minutes.

15-Foot Scout Stave Flagpole without a Halyard

The key to lifting and securing a simple flagpole is tying on three guylines about 3/4 of the way up, and extending them out equidistant from one another. The stakes should form an equilateral triangle, and should ideally be hammered in a distance away from the flagpole of at least twice the height of where they’re tied. So, if the flagpole is 15 feet, and the guylines are attached 11 feet up, the stakes should be 22 feet from the pole for optimum stability. NOTE: Under many circumstances, this distance can be much shorter and still provide the support to hold the flag up, even during lengthy periods of use.

Quick Lash and Attach
Quick Lash and Attach

While the flagpole is being lashed together, a Scout or Scouts can be putting the stakes in the ground, pacing out the proper distance and hammering them in to form that equilateral triangle.

Before raising the pole, the three guylines should be tied at about 3/4 the way up using roundturns with two half hitches or rolling hitches. Then when the flagpole is being held erect, three Scouts can each take a guyline and attach it to a stake with a tight taut-line hitch, or for taller, heavier flagpoles, a rope tackle.

If the flag is not to be ceremoniously raised and lowered, or with shorter flagpoles, a halyard is not necessary.

Simple Halyard

Easy Tall Flagpole

Flagpole Race

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Double Fire Bucket Holder

Functional AND good-looking.
Functional AND good-looking.

One of the essential mandates in the BSA’s Outdoor Code is: BE CAREFUL WITH FIRE.

  • I will prevent wildfire.
  • I will build my fires only where they are appropriate.
  • When I have finished using a fire, I will make sure it is cold out.
  • I will leave a clean fire ring, or remove all evidence of my fire.

In addition to being the height of simplicity, the Double Fire Bucket Holder makes an invaluable contribution towards safety around the fire circle. In our campsites, since it’s always a safe bet to have a supply of water right near our cooking and campfires, why not add some convenience and accessibility, especially because when fire buckets are on the ground, they’re frequently knocked over, inadvertently kicked, and even stepped in!

Useful Camp Gadget
Very Useful Camp Gadget

The materials needed for this ultra simple campsite improvement are two pioneering stakes, a solid stick about 30 inches long with a notch on either end to hang the buckets, and two short 1/4-inch manila lashing ropes, 6 to 10 feet long. In a sensible place near the fire circle, simply pound in the pioneering stakes, approximately 1 and 3/4 feet apart. Then, making sure the notches on the 30-inch crossbar are facing up, lash it to the two stakes with tight square lashings. Fill the fire buckets and hang them on either side. That’s all there is to it. As illustrated in the drawing below, this same design can be used in a variety of ways.  

Whatever the doctor orders.
Whatever the doctor orders.

 

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