Tag Archives: Boy Scout Pioneering

Pioneering Program Curriculum III: Square Knot & Roundturn With Two Half Hitches

This is the third post in a series that will eventually comprise an activity-based, unit pioneering program curriculum.

SUPPORTING VIDEOS: How to Always Tie a Square Knot Right / How to Tie a Roundturn With Two Half Hitches

III A. In the BSA, the square knot is commonly referred to as a joining knot and tying it is a requirement to earn the Scout rank. However, the square knot (reef knot) is first and foremost a binding knot. For our purposes, its primary use will be to complete a Mark II Square Lashing.

III B. A roundturn with two half hitches is one of the basic knots that is very reliable for a number of uses in pioneering work. It is easy to tie and untie and does not reduce the strength of the rope due to sharp turns when under a hard pull.

OBJECTIVES

  • Scouts will show they understand the square knot is used as a binding knot and will demonstrate they can always tie it (instead of a granny knot) by relying solely on the appearance of the first overhand knot. Refer to Foolproof Way to ALWAYS Tie a Square Knot Right.
  • Scouts will demonstrate how a roundturn can be used to temporarily hold the strain on a rope.
  • Scouts will demonstrate they can tie two half hitches around the standing part of a rope and draw them up tight against a roundturn.

MATERIALS

  • 3-foot length of 3/16 or 1/4-inch braided nylon or polyester cord for each Scout
  • Length of  1/2-inch nylon or polyester cord and a vertical pole or tree, to serve as a large visual aid
  • Sturdy horizontal pole, lashed between two trees or anchored uprights about 3-1/2 feet  off the ground
  • One 15-foot x 1/4-inch  manila lashing rope for every two Scouts

PROCEDURE A

Standing End on Top, Standing End on Bottom
Standing End on Top, Standing End on Bottom
  1. Utilizing the 1/2-inch cord and vertical pole or tree, the instructor demonstrates how a square knot is used to secure a line or rope directly around an object.
  2. While tying an overhand knot (half knot) around the pole, the instructor explains how it’s always possible to know how to tie the second overhand knot just by looking at the first. This can be illustrated by positioning the two running ends so they are perpendicular to the standing part wrapped around the pole, (see Illustration 1) It’s pointed out that one running end is on the bottom and the other is on the top. When bringing the ends together to tie the second overhand knot, the end on the bottom should stay on the bottom and the end on top should stay on the top, and then the second overhand knot can be tied to form the square knot correctly 100% of the time. This is demonstrated by the instructor!
  3. Using their 3-foot cord, Scouts tie an overhand knot around their thigh, and then position the two ends so they lie at right angles to the part wrapped around their thigh. They then practice carrying the bottom and top ends together to form a square knot.
  4. Scouts bring their 3-foot cords to the horizontal pole(s) and each ties an overhand knot around the pole. When all the overhand knots are in place, they back away and change places with another Scout. The “new” overhand knot is interpreted, and relying only on its appearance, Scouts complete the square knot.
Finishing a Square Knot from an Overhand Knot with the Left Running End on the Bottom and the Right Running End on Top
Finishing a Square Knot By Relying Solely on the Appearance of the First Overhand Knot

5. Alternating the position of the running ends of overhand knots tied around the horizontal pole, races are run between individuals to determine that the ability to rely only on the appearance of the initial overhand knot has been mastered. Reviews are conducted as necessary.

Finishing a Square Knot from an Overhand Knot with the Left Running End on Top and the Right Running End on the Bottom
Finishing a Square Knot By Relying Solely on the Appearance of the First Overhand Knot

PROCEDURE B

1. The instructor wraps the 1/2-inch cord around the horizontal pole forming a roundturn. He explains that a roundturn goes around the pole twice, and when maintaining a grip on                                                                 the running end, a good deal of stress can be held because of the friction around the pole created by the roundturn.

Holding the strain on the standing part in the left hand, and with the running end, starting a roundturn around the pole, continuing to hold the strain on the standing part while forming a complete roundturn around the pole, and letting go of the standing part continuing to hold the strain with only the running end.
Applying a Roundturn to a Horizontal Pole

2. The instructor ties a  half hitch around the standing part of the rope and cinches it up to the roundturn on the pole.
3. The instructor ties a second half hitch around the standing part and cinches that up to the first. He explains that these two half hitches have formed a clove hitch around the standing part and the knot is often called two half hitches. He further explains that when two half hitches are tied like this after a roundturn, the knot is called a roundturn with two half hitches and, as will be seen later, is often used on guylines and anchor points when building a pioneering structure.

Tying the first half hitch around the standing part, cinching the first half hitch up to the roundturn and tying the second half hitch around the standing part, you get a completed roundturn with two half hitches.
Adding Two Half Hitches to the Roundturn

4. The class is divided into twos. The first Scout holds the end of the 15-foot rope and stands about 12 feet away from the horizontal pole. The second Scout goes to the pole and with the other end of the rope applies a roundturn, while the first gives the rope some tension with a slight, steady pull. When the roundturn is completed, the second Scout lets go of the standing part and with one hand grabbing the running end, he holds the strain still applied by the first Scout. He then adds two half hitches. When the roundturn with two half hitches is tied, the second Scout lets go of the rope entirely. The two Scouts switch so that everyone in the class can demonstrate they are comfortable tying the knot.

INTERPATROL ACTIVITY: Flagpole Race

PIONEERING CURRICULUM: MAIN PAGE

1974 Pioneering Pamphlet Revision with Some Vintage Action Photos!

Though there have been some changes and modifications through the years, in most respects, pioneering in the Boy Scouts remains constant. Why Pioneering!

The following text has been extracted from the Introduction to the 1981 Printing of the 1974 Revision of the BSA Pioneering Merit Badge Pamphlet. Most of the action photos have been scanned from the Pioneering Projects section. (Many are also featured in the GREAT 1976 printing of  the 1967 revision of the Boy Scout Field Book.)

Crossing a Stream on an X-frame Monkey Bridge!
Crossing a Stream on an X-frame Monkey Bridge!

Remember Robinson Crusoe? He was the guy who was shipwrecked on a desert isle and managed to survive. Of course he was lucky—he salvaged a lot of useful equipment. But his story makes you wonder what you’d do if the same thing happened to you.

Have you ever thought what you’d like to have if you found yourself all alone in a wilderness with no chance of escape? So let’s make the problem easier—you can choose just one item, one “tool,” to take with you.

Interlocking the Trestles on an Single Lock Bridge!
Interlocking the Trestles on a Single Lock Bridge!

Only one tool? Impossible, you may think. The guys who have this merit badge would be very likely to choose rope. For with it anyone skilled in the outdoor arts of pioneering can build many useful things.

It’s one of the oldest tools we know. Thousands of years ago, primitive men twisted vines or plant fibers to make rope that they used to attach handles to their simple tools. Ropes were used in building the pyramids.

Lashing on Walkway Cross Spars!
Lashing on Walkway Cross Spars!

In Central and South America, Indian tribes were crossing deep valleys on rope suspension bridges long before the first explorers arrived from Europe. And with the help of rope our own pioneers could, when they had to, build a temporary bridge that would enable woman and children to cross a stream safely. They could build a raft to carry a winter’s catch of fur to market.

Take a look at this pamphlet, and you’ll discover why rope would be a good “tool” to have in the wilderness. Everyone of the requirements depends on rope. Pioneering, in the Scout sense, means being able to construct a great variety of things with poles and rope. In order to build a bridge without nails or a tower without bolts, the builder needs ropes—plus the knowledge of how to use them. Most pioneering is concerned with lashing poles together to make something—usually temporary—that makes living in the outdoors a little easier.

In pioneering, the use of knots and lashings is of supreme importance. A wrong knot, an insecure lashing, or a weak rope could lead to disaster. Did you know, for example, that tying a Bowline in a rope cuts its efficiency by 40%? And that a Square Knot reduces the rope’s efficiency by 50%? Which means that it’s only half as strong as an unknotted rope. Knots, turns, and hitches weaken a rope by forming a bend that distributes the load on the fibers unequally.

Lashing on Walkway Floor Spars.
Lashing on Walkway Floor Spars.

All this knowledge comes in handy in pioneering—but our wilderness has shrunk so much that the average troop no longer can go into the woods and cut the trees needed for building a rope-lashed tower. However, there are isolated areas where Scouts might get permission to clear out some trees, and the thinning might make the ones left standing grow better. A troop that can acquire poles this way should keep them perhaps on a campsite—and use them over and over.

Lashing Together a 24' Signal Tower Side!
Lashing Together a 24′ Signal Tower Side!

Most often the best bet for anyone who wants to learn pioneering is summer camp. Here there will be the poles, the ropes, and—just as important—someone with the skills to teach you how to make Square Lashings, Diagonal Lashings, and Shear Lashings. Ever hear of a parbuckle? Can you tie the required 10 knots and explain their use? The best way to learn is by observing someone who already knows.

Our pioneers were good at improvising. They had to be. Without being able to improvise they never could have settled the wilderness., built bridges and houses, and turned it into the comfortable communities we live in today. Scouts who want to try their hands at pioneering will learn to improvise—and will be using some basic engineering principles that still have plenty of applications.

Hoisting a 24' Signal Tower!
Hoisting a 24′ Signal Tower!

For example, engineers working in mountainous areas often use rope conveyers in preference to rigid railways. The aerial cableway used in the construction of the Hoover Dam in Colorado consisted of six steel-wire ropes crossing a 1,256-foot span. The “bucket” or carriage they supported could carry 150 tones of excavated material away from the site at one time or bring in the same amount of concrete from the mixing plant.

Tightening the Lashings on a 24' Signal Tower
Tightening the Lashings on a 24′ Signal Tower!

You need not wait until you get to summer camp to begin your own pioneering. Even in a big city, you can learn to tie the knots and find out the best applications for each. Learn how to make Eye, End, and Short splices. And learn how to make lashings by building scale models. A scale of 1 inch to 1 foot is convenient and easy to use: This means that a tower 24 feet tall will scale down to 24 inches in your model.

Pioneering merit badge is not one of those required for Eagle. But in a time when most people have no understanding of what our ancestors had to know to live in the wilderness, pioneering is a cultural tie with the past, an emergency skill worth learning, and a real test of your cooperative spirit. The patrol or troop has to work together as a team, and learning the give-and-take in carrying out a construction project is as important as learning the technical skills of pioneering.

Safe Pioneering

Link to: Older Pamphlet Info

These 22 Safety Points are included in the manuscript for the next edition of the Pioneering Merit Badge.

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

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. Check all equipment, rope, tools, and hardware to ensure they are in good working condition.
  2. Appoint a safety officer as soon as you arrive at the work site.
  3. The safety officer, 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.
  4. During the construction of a project, only one person should give instructions and signals.
  5. 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.
  6. Wear clothing to fit the season and wear gloves when necessary to protect your hands.
  7. Take regular breaks to discuss the work in progress and ensure that everyone understands what is required of them.
  8. Double-check all anchors and holdfasts on the pioneering project as strain is applied during use.
  9. Test the structure or bridge before allowing general use.
  10. Ensure that you have good footing, use both hands to make the work easier, and do not lift more than you can handle.
  11. When the day’s work is complete, untie all knots, coil all ropes, check all hardware, and store everything in its proper place.
  12. When tying knots that will be out of reach, secure the running end with a piece of light cord.
  13. When the bottom end of a spar, such as the leg of a tower, rests on hard ground, it should be “heeled in”— that is, set in a 4″ to 6” deep hole to keep it from shifting.
  14. When raising towers, have at least two hoisting lines on the opposite side to prevent overpulling the proper position.
  15. If the design calls for a certain size and type of rope or spar, do not substitute something of lesser strength.

Here are some obvious but necessary additional safety measures that should be remembered:

General

  • Spars resting on the ground are not for standing upon. They can unexpectedly roll causing injuries.
  • Only one person at a time belongs on a ladder. Persons coming down from a project use the ladder first.
  • Racing up or down a ladder can result in slipping and an accident.
  • The number of people using a platform should be strictly limited to the maximum number established beforehand and announced by the safety officer.
  • Jumping or playing around while on a platform is totally unnecessary and can have dire results.
  • When lifting the a spar to facilitate the frapping of a tripod lashing, care should always be taken to ensure that the person working the rope doesn’t injure his fingers.
  • There should always be plenty of room between the person carrying spars and other people.
  • When working with newer manila lashing ropes, rope splinters can be avoided by wearing gloves.
  • When using heavy mallets to pound in pioneering stakes, pain can be avoided by being especially careful.
  • All equipment should be treated with respect and used appropriately for its intended purpose.

Monkey Bridges

  • There should only be one person on a monkey bridge at a time.
  • While crossing the 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, which can easily lead to losing their footing.
  • Those waiting their turn to cross the bridge should stay off the ropes between the anchors and the bridge framework.
  • Whenever the foot rope and/or hand ropes are being tightened, or the spanner ropes are being adjusted, everyone should stay completely off the bridge.

 

 

 

Single A-Frame Bridge

Two A-Frame Bridges in the  Early Morning Fog on Garden Ground Mountain at the Summit Bechtel Reserve
Two Single A-Frame Bridges in the Early Morning Fog on Garden Ground Mountain at the Summit Bechtel Reserve

The simplest of all crossing bridges is the Single A-Frame Bridge. The design was featured at the 2013 National Jamboree which afforded Scouts an opportunity to construct the bridge right on the spot.

Single A-Frame Bridges at the Jamboree

Single A-Frame Bridge Pictorial

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

Building this bridge is quite simple because there are very few lashings needed for the center A-frame. The A-frame is a triangular shape that resists racking and provides strength for the structure.

A-frame. Start this project by determining the depth of the creek or ravine to be spanned. You have to add 8 feet to that measurement to get the total height of the legs for the A-frame. For example, to span a creek 4 feet deep, the legs of the A-frame should be about 12 feet or longer.

This total length allows for the distance from the butt ends of the A-frame legs up to the transom that supports the walkways. The transom should be about 1 foot higher than the banks of the creek. It also allows for the height from the walkways up to the tops of the legs to permit free passage for a person along the walkways.

Lay the A-frame subassembly out on the ground to check if the spars are long enough when lashed together for the two requirements mentioned above.

A-frame Legs. When you’ve determined the length of the spars for the legs of the A-frame, lash them together at the top with a shear lashing, not a diagonal lashing. This lashing should be made somewhat loose so that you can spread the spar legs apart to form the A-frame. As you spread the spar legs, the Shear Lashing will tighten. A little practice will show you how loose to make the shear lashing initially in order for it to be tight when the A-frame is formed.

View of A-frame and Attachment of Walkways
View of A-frame and Attachment of Walkways

Ledger and transom. To complete the A-frame, use square lashings to lash the bottom ledger across the legs about 1 foot from the bottom of the legs. Then lash a transom spar to support the walkways at the proper height in relation to the banks of the creek.

Walkways. The two 10-foot walkway sections are made as separate subassemblies. (Refer to “Bridge Walkways.”)

Assembly. After the walkways are made, take them to the assembly site along with the A-frame. Place the A-frame in the center of the creek and heel in the legs about 4 to 6 inches deep. As the legs are being heeled in, level the transom to accept the walkways in a level position.

Single A-Frame Bridge
Single A-Frame Bridge

When the A-frame is upright and the transom is level, lash both underspars on the walkways to the transom with strop lashings at three points. Finally, lash the cross spars at the ends of the walkways to stakes on the banks of the creek with Strop Lashings.

For safety, it’s best to add a light 1/4-inch guyline from the top of the A-frame to both sides of the creek to prevent it from tipping over.

List of Materials for a A-Frame Bridge

  • two 3-inch x 12-foot A-frame legs
  • one 2-inch x 6-foot bottom ledger
  • one 3-inch x 6-foot transom
  • four 3-inch x 10-foot walkway lateral spars
  • twelve 2-inch x 3-foot walkway cross spars
  • four 2-1/2-foot  walkway cross spars
  • two 2-inch x 10-foot walkway planks
  • four stakes

Single Trestle Bridge

Single Lock Bridge

Introduction to Pioneering

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:

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.

The same skills can be used by Scouts to build pioneering projects ranging in complexity from a simple camp gadget to a signal tower.

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 (in this pamphlet*) 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.

The basics of pioneering, such as tying knots, making lashings, using rope tackle, constructing anchors, and basic rope knowledge can be done at home. The projects and structures (shown in this pamphlet**) can usually be constructed with materials available at summer camp or at council camping events.

* SAFE PIONEERING

* ROPE-TOSS-LOG-LIFT CHALLENGE

ROPE FOR PIONEERING AND CAMP USE

KNOT-TYING TERMINOLOGY

TIMBER HITCH

ROUNDTURN WITH TWO HALF HITCHES

ROLLING HITCH

BUTTERFLY KNOT

CARRICK BEND

CONSTRICTOR KNOT

WATER KNOT

PIPE HITCH

PRUSIK

SPLICING ROPE

* MAKING ROPE

WHIPPING

ANCHORING PIONEERING PROJECTS

ROPE TACKLE

LASHING

JAPANESE MARK II SQUARE LASHING

MAKING A TRESTLE

BRIDGE WALKWAYS

PIONEERING PROJECTS

** SINGLE TRESTLE BRIDGE

** SINGLE LOCK BRIDGE

** SINGLE A-FRAME BRIDGE

** 14′ DOUBLE LADDER SIGNAL TOWER

** DOUBLE A-FRAME MONKEY BRIDGE

PIONEERING KIT

 

Pioneering Projects

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

PIONEERING PROJECTS

The craft of building with ropes and spars continues in remote areas throughout the world today. Scouts can apply the skills of knot tying and lashing to build pioneering structures that are needed to make living in camp a little more comfortable. Whether you build a simple gadget, or a bridge to provide a shortcut to the swimming pool, pioneering can be rewarding and fun.

The pioneering projects shown here, along with the suggested sizes and lengths of spars, are intended for building “boy-size” structures; that is, projects that can be built by boys of Boy Scout age.

You don’t have to build a huge tower to learn the skills and enjoy the fun of pioneering. These projects are designed so that you can build them in a few hours with a minimum of equipment and supplies. Yet, you will still learn how the basic pioneering skills of knot tying and lashing must work together with the design of a structure to produce a sound, safe pioneering project.

Building these projects will be much easier if you put together a pioneering kit first. The success of any project is directly related to the planning and preparation you put into the project from the beginning.

Here are some things to take into consideration before you build a pioneering project:

  • Decide on the type of project you want to build. Take into consideration the equipment, the number of people needed, and the time required to build it.
  • Check the site where the project is going to be built. Collect all the information that you will need when building the project. For example, are there any natural anchors for guylines? How wide and deep is the creek where a bridge is to be built?
  • Make a rough sketch of the project or work from an approved plan drawing. Along with the sketch, have a list of equipment that includes all the equipment you’ll need. You don’t want to start a project and later learn you need something you don’t have.
  • Select the necessary spars you’ll need for the project, making sure that you have enough spars with the proper butt diameter and length to build a safe project.
  • Determine the size and lengths of all the ropes needed for lashings, guylines, etc.
  • Before you start building, determine if the project can be divided into subassemblies for ease of lashing and erecting. Assign crew members and a crew leader to each of the sub assemblies, based on skill level and experience.
  • Go over the plans with all the crew members. Assign only one person to give signals when raising all or part of the structure.
  • As you’re building the project, frequently check the progress to make sure it is being done with safety in mind.

A word about the appearance of the project: Part of the skill in building with ropes and spars is to select the spars that are best suited to the structure. In some situations, the supply of spars might be limited.

It is not necessary for your project to be picture perfect, but rather that it is structurally sound. If one or two spars are a bit longer than required, that’s fine as long as the lashings are in the proper location for strength and the diameter of the spars will carry the load applied.

Try to avoid cutting off the ends of spars and ropes just to fit a certain project, especially if you’re working with spars from a pioneering kit. The next crew might want to build a different project and could use the spars and ropes at the original lengths.

The spars used for a pioneering project should have the bark removed for two reasons. Bark beetles and other boring insects can seriously decrease a spar’s strength, and inspection is easier with the bark removed. Also, if the project racks, the bark under the lashing can be loosened, which in turn makes the lashing loose and adds to the possibility of making the whole project wobbly and unsafe. (And, bark under a lashing can be rubbed off in the process of setting up a project.)

Note: Any pioneering structure that is to be a permanent camp improvement should not be left with only lashings. It needs to be bolted together for safety and maintenance.

Pioneering Legend: Adolph Peschke

Soon after the 1993 edition of the Pioneering Merit Badge Pamphlet was published, I ventured to contact its author with some questions. Happily, I was able to reach him at his home, and was treated to enthusiastic explanations regarding the projects our troop wanted to build. Mr. Peschke was always very generous with his time and had so much information to share, it always felt I was being given dollar answers for my little 10¢ questions.

Pioneering Legend, Adolph Peschke
Pioneering Legend, Adolph Peschke

The following text has been extracted from the Acknowledgments page of the Pioneering Merit Badge Pamphlet he authored: “Mr. Peschke has more than sixty years’ tenure in the St. Louis Area Council, and is a Wood Badge course director for more than 20 course staff experiences. He has designed thirty original “boy-size” pioneering projects. As a design engineer for five national Scout jamborees, he was responsible for the theme development, site layout, and staff training for the Action Center’s pioneering areas. He also developed the pioneering kit with its color-coded system to identify rope and spar lengths for building pioneering projects, and he has contributed to the BSA Fieldbook, Program Helps, and Boys’ Life and Scouting Magazines.”

Adolph Peschke, a most worthy recipient of the Boy Scouts of America’s Silver Antelope Award, passed away on November 23, 2012. He was 98. I had just spoken with him about two weeks before, during which time he was, as always, enthusiastic and emphatically informative. He will be missed, but his legacy will live on. Thank you Adolph! You have served, and continue to serve, as a most-helpful resource of valuable insight and information.

Adolph Peschke’s Pioneering Guidelines

Adolph Peschke’s Introduction to Pioneering

Pioneering With Laminated Spars by Adolph E. Peschke: How to Build a Pioneering Starter Kit with Laminated Spars for a Scout Troop to Build “Boy-Sized” Projects.

Adolph Peschke in Wikipedia

Why Pioneering!

John Thurman
John Thurman

Some special quotes by JOHN THURMAN, Camp Chief, Gilwell Park from 1943-1969 pertaining to pioneering in the Boy Scouts:

Because It’s FUN!

There are few activities which, properly presented, have a greater appeal to the Scout and Senior Scout than Pioneering and ever since the introduction of Wood Badge training, Pioneering has been given a full share in the programme of Scouters’ training. In the summer months when Scouters at Gilwell are building bridges, towers, and rafts, and boys are in camp it has been all too common to hear from the boys such remarks as, ‘I wish we did that in our Troop’ or ‘We never do anything like that’.”


Why Pioneering? To me the over-riding reason for presenting Pioneering is that boys like it. Some years ago we started providing simple equipment which Troops in camp at Gilwell can use. The demand is insatiable. Year by year we add more, but we never provide enough; because as one Troop sees another using the equipment and building a bridge they want to try it also and the desire to do Pioneering spreads like a contagious disease throughout the camp.

“But there are reasons for Pioneering other than the fact that boys like doing it. B.-P. wrote: “I am inclined to suggest to Scouters that in addition to the technical details of knotting, lashing, and anchorages, there is an educative value in Pioneering since it gives elementary training in stresses, mensuration, etc., and it also develops initiative and resourcefulness to use local material. Additionally, it gives practice in team work and discipline.’ In other words, Pioneering is practical and character building: the two essential ingredients of any programme material for Scouts.”

These projects are all built by troops in the Northern District in Gauteng, South Africa. This district holds regular inter-troop Pioneering competitions, as well as a Scouter's competition. The above photo shows the winning Scouters from 2008, 1st Athol, in front of their 35ft-span suspension bridge, built in 4.5 hours.
The winning Scouts from 2008, 1st Athol, South Africa, in front of their 35ft-span suspension bridge, built in 4.5 hours.

“The modern cynic may think it is all very old-fashioned but the short answer to this is, ‘Yes, of course it is, but so is breathing and sleeping and other things that mankind has been doing for a long time.’ It does not follow that because an activity has been used for a long time it is out-dated and, in fact, I am prepared to say that there is more interest in Pioneering today than ever before, perhaps because facilities have improved and perhaps because some of us have made an effort to present Pioneering to the Movement in a more imaginative and varied way.

“Quite apart from that, though, Pioneering is not old-fashioned in its purely technical sense. I was showing a Managing Director of a large civil engineering firm round Gilwell when a Wood Badge Course was pioneering near the Bomb Hole. He displayed very great interest in the Pioneering and looked closely at all that was happening. From our point of view there was nothing unusual going on; this was a usual routine exercise with two or three bridges being built, a couple of towers, and a raft. As we walked away my civil engineering friend said, ‘I am delighted that the Scout Movement is still doing this: it is tremendously important. Despite the fact that modern machinery and equipment is magnificent there often comes a time when a man has to use ingenuity and improvise in order to move the job forward and the engineer who has the spirit that your kind of training produces is the man we want in our business.'”


And, relevant to this endeavor:

“I hope that Districts will more and more accept responsibility for making pioneering equipment available to be borrowed or hired by any troop. The more expensive things become the more necessary to work on a communal basis, and the Scout community is the Scout District. I know the problems—somewhere to store the gear and someone to look after it, but these are problems which a live District can overcome if real determination is there to give Scouts pioneering practice, and I am satisfied that it comes high in the list of things Scouts want to do. Determination remains the enduring answer to most problems.”