Inspirational Teamwork


Team Building Opportunity. The challenge referred to as Crossing the Alligator Pit is an activity that requires 100% cooperation and teamwork. The Scout on the A-Frame “walker” is totally reliant on his fellow Scouts to keep him aloft and facilitate his forward progress. The whole time that he’s bringing into play his balance along with his leg, shoulder and arm muscles, it’s the members of his patrol that not only greatly increase the effect of his movements, but also keep him from spilling over.

Crossing the Alligator Pit can initially be tackled using what we can term “group leadership,” where several members of the patrol all contribute their opinions on how to best get the “walker” moving and not falling over. As the successful crew experiences the necessity of coordinating the handling of the guylines with the movements of the Scout on the “walker,” invariably one Scout will need to assume the role of calling the shots and keeping everyone on their toes.

Alligator Stage Left
The farther they went, the more skillful they became!

Scout Spirit! This was best exampled during a District Camporee devoted to Junior Leader Training. Scouts from Troop 822 out of Mount Vernon, SC poured themselves into the activity and not only mastered the challenge, but provided spectators with some fun and excitement as well. They approached the task of building their A-Frame with enthusiasm. Finishing in good form, they wasted no time in standing up the structure and holding it in position with their guylines. As soon as their rider climbed on board, it became obvious: it was the top two lines that required the most unfaltering attention to keep the A-Frame vertical. The Scout on the A-Frame was exuberant as he discovered how to swing the walker forward one leg at a time. The patrol then totally got the hang of how to use the bottom guylines to add that real oomph to the “walker” propelling it forward. As they smoothly traversed the fifteen feet of the “alligator pit,” their leader reminded us of a coxswain, rhythmically yelling out, “Pull!” to the crew manning the oars in a boat race. “One, two, THREE!…one two, THREE!…one two, THREE!” On each “THREE!” the rider swung one leg of the “walker” forward, as the Scout manning that leg’s forward guyline simultaneously heaved on his rope, while the others remained alert to help guide and steady the A-Frame. Their “walker” actually walked in rhythm and it was quite a spectacle!

Getting Tired, but Still Happy, and None the Worse for Wear

They kept on going! Crossing the Alligator Pit is more challenging than the majority of other interpatrol competitions, demanding a full measure of concentration and cooperation. With a well-lashed A-Frame and a rider who gets the knack of balancing his weight and swinging the legs of the “walker,” a patrol that can keep their structure upright will eventually be able to successfully cover the fifteen foot distance. Fifteen feet is fifteen feet and decently doable, especially on flat terrain. A hundred and fifty feet up a hill is a horse of a different color, and that’s what this patrol from Troop 822 challenged themselves to do. They kept going across the field up a hill towards the dining hall, and they didn’t stop until they reached the top! When they finally stopped, it was already getting dark outside. Their persistence, and teamwork was nothing short of amazing! These Scouts went far, and it makes sense that with all their determination, they’ll continue to go far in whatever direction they set out for themselves.

Battering Ram at the Jamboree

Positioning the Battering Ram to Knock Open the Gate
Positioning the Battering Ram to Knock Open the Gate
Builders Display Big Green Fist
Builders Proudly Display Big Green Fist

Along with the AT&T Spoof “Signal” Tower, another exceedingly creative pioneering project provided a fun challenge for groups of Scouts and Venturers. The structure was designed and built completely out of wood—axles, wheels, the works—all lashed together. Originally, it was going to be a Flintstone-mobile, but was transformed instead into a frolicking battering ram. Our chain saw sculptor carved a large green fist (like that of the Hulk) for the business end of the swinging pole, which became an enduring source of levity for the adult staffers involved in the project.

Though the finished project was heavy, the wooden wheels enabled crews to roll it around on the grass and move it into position to batter through an improvised swinging gate, (and later to batter down an assembly of wooden blocks).

Pushing Battering Ram into Position / Pulling Battering Ram into Position
Pushing Battering Ram into Position / Pulling Battering Ram into Position

The teamworking challenge each group faced stemmed primarily from the necessity to roll the cumbersome construction into position, which required a good deal of pulling, pushing, and maneuvering.  Once in position, the crew was able to swing the big fist into the obstruction and, without fail, delightfully crash through!