Pioneering Kit

A Council Spar Barn
Spar Barn

From certain perspectives, the following pioneering kit presented in the informative older Pioneering Merit Badge Pamphlet is undoubtedly very extensive for a single unit, and better suited for a kit stored in a large shed or storage facility earmarked for multi-unit use in a District or Council.

—> For a unit interested in putting together their own pioneering kit, a good place to start is to gather the materials necessary to undertake the specific project or projects the unit wishes to build. More supplies can be added to the unit’s kit to meet additional demands for materials, as required by the desire and wherewithal to tackle new and different projects.

Here’s a link to how to build a starter kit using laminated spars: “Pioneering with Laminated Spars” which will be sufficient to build a Singe Lock Bridge.

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

The easiest way to make sure that you have all the necessary ropes, spars, and equipment ready to build a pioneering project is to put together a pioneering kit. It saves a lot of time if the pioneering kit is organized and ready to go so you don’t have to spend time gathering all your equipment every time you want to build a pioneering project.

The pioneering kit described here consists of enough spars and ropes to build the projects shown in this pamphlet. It is designed to be used by a troop at summer camp to build “boy-size” structures: that is, projects that can be built by Scouts of Scouts BSA age. This kit is also ideal to provide the equipment necessary for teaching pioneering skills to new Scouts.

The sizes and quantities of ropes and spars described here should be a good starting point for your pioneering kit. You can always add more equipment as the number of Scouts participating increases, or if some Scouts become more skilled in building a wider range of projects.


Knowing that this pamphlet might be used by Scouts all over the world presents some problems concerning availability of suitable species of trees to use for spars. Generally, pine makes the best spars because pine trees are straight. Also, when pine is stripped of its bark and dried out, it makes spars that are not too heavy, therefore suitable for “Scout-size” projects.

If pine is not available, cut spars from the straightest trees you can find. It might be to your advantage to make spars from hardwood species of trees. Given the strength of hardwoods, you might be able to use slightly smaller diameters as a weight-saving measure. Don’t overlook softwood spars for light, smaller projects.

Some lumberyards and farm supply stores carry round, treated fence posts that can be used for short lengths. Barn poles might also be available for a few of the longer lengths. Remember that barn poles are quoted at the top diameter, not the butt end. The supply yard might let you select and match what you need.

On all spars, you should remove the bark and cut the ends square. It is recommended that you cut all the spars to exact, even lengths, regardless of their butt diameter, as shown in the chart below.

Large Pioneering Kit: SPARS for Multi-Unit Use
Color-Code for Spars
Color-Code for Spars

There are several combinations of lengths and diameters of spars suggested for this pioneering kit. This is because various projects might require the same length spar, but in different diameters depending on where it is to be used in the structure.

Both ends of the spars in your pioneering kit should be color-coded with a band of paint to denote length. Here are the colors that can be used to easily show the lengths of the spars without having to measure them each time.


The best all-around rope to use for pioneering projects is pure manila, three-strand, twisted. (Refer to the “Rope” section.)

All ropes in your pioneering kit should be whipped on both ends. In the case of plastic rope, whether it’s twisted or braided, it must be first melted back and then whipped.

Large Pioneering Kit: ROPES for Multi-Unit Use
Rope Color-Code
Rope Color-Code

Ropes cut to the standard lengths shown above should have the ends color-coded with a dab of paint to denote the length. Here is a recommended color-coding system for all rope, regardless of diameter of the rope:

You might also have a need for ropes of specific diameters and lengths that are used for projects that are built often. These should be identified with a tag and coiled separately. These ropes, along with slings, grommets, strops, and anchor ropes should be stored in a separate box.


In addition to spars and ropes, your pioneering kit should contain some basic equipment needed for building projects. This equipment includes

  • 2    round-point long-handle shovels
  • 4    wooden mallets
  • 50   pioneering stakes
  • 4    binder twine boxes
  • 1    bow saw
  • 1    hand ax
  • 10   wooden cleats and nails
  • 8    welded steel rings, 3/8″ x 3″
  • 8    screw pin shackles, 3/8″
  • 10   quick links, 5/16″

You might also find that putting this equipment on a trailer that can be pulled by a truck will help get your pioneering kit to your project site. The trailer will also help you move your pioneering kit to a dry shelter when not in use.