Related to Scout Pioneering are a variety of campcraft challenges that can be incorporated into the troop meeting agenda. A relevant upside is, these activities require putting skills into action that were gained during instructional sessions. Appropriately, these skills come into play in a way that is challenging and fun.
Of course, campcraft encompasses more than just Pioneering, though Pioneering is often central to the rewarding experience inherent in Scouting’s outdoor program. The campcraft challenges in this post also include activities related to general knotting, woods tools, fire building, navigation, and some first aid Scout skills too.
Healthy competition between patrols can have a positive outcome when handled in the right spirit. Naturally, when patrol makeup is homogenous, there’s more of a level playing field. But, when patrols are organized by age, to compensate for the difference in skill levels, certain handicaps might be introduced. In this instance or when individual patrol attendance is disproportionate, dividing the troop into equal crews is also always a practical approach.
Scoring and points are arbitrary—no hard, fast rule. Keeping track of patrol points for these activities (and awarding points for various other criteria) can be adopted and contribute towards patrol spirit. But, the presentation of the activities themselves carry their own rewards translating into involvement, enthusiasm, and fun.
Some years ago a newly-formed and very young troop, barely a year old, attended a Council-wide Camporee. One of the patrol competitions was an Everyone on the Tripod race. They entered three patrols. When the smoke cleared, and the judging was completed, out of over fifty patrols present at the camporee, they placed first, second and third. Why? Well, one reason was they were familiar with the activity having done it at a couple of troop meetings as an interpatrol competition. But, perhaps the main keys to their new-found success was they had an active pioneering program in place, and had been taught the Mark II Square Lashing and the tripod lashing found in an old edition of the BSA Fieldbook (Tripod Lashing with Plain Turns).
This is a WONDERFUL interpatrol challenge!
Materials required for each patrol:
three 8-foot x 3 to 4-inch tripod leg spars
three 6-foot x 3-inch tripod support spars
six 15-foot x 1/4-inch lashing ropes
one 20-foot x 1/4-inch lashing rope
Here’s the Procedure:
On signal, patrol members lash the three 8-foot spars into a tripod, using the 20-foot rope.
When finished, they set up the tripod and using six square lashings, lash a 6-foot spar between each of the legs.
When all lashings are completed and the tripod is strong and secure, all the patrol members stand on the 6-foot spars, making sure their weight is evenly distributed.
Of course, this challenge lends itself equally, if not more so, to being presented outdoors.