Tag Archives: patrol challenge

Scout Meeting Challenge: Atomic Pile

The Atomic Pile as featured on Garden Ground Mountain in the pioneering area at the 2013 national jamboree inspired this smaller scale version which can be set up outdoors on a lawn for a troop meeting. Instead of heavy spars serving as corner uprights and cross spars defining the boundary, this modification uses light corner upright poles and cords. Everything else is lighter as well.

The Atomic Pile provides an excellent opportunity for team building while also effectively honing individual leadership skills. Additionally, it can provide an opportunity to test what can be termed “group leadership,” which will manifest to a greater or lesser degree the ability of a group to lead itself when there is no one assigned the leadership role.

The following Atomic Pile structure is only one simple version, designed for short-term use. It works very well during a troop meeting. When featured for extended use, like at a camporee or public gathering, a more solidly-built construction is in order.

The log is steadied on top of a corner mark.
The log is steadied on top of a corner square.

Suggested Materials

  • four 8 to 10-foot x 2-inch poles for corner uprights
  • twelve 4-inch diameter wooden discs -or- 4-inch squares of lumber, four of them painted with the numeral “5,” four with “10,” and four with “20”
  • one 4-inch diameter log, 15 inches long with a large eye hook on one side and a flat, even surface on the other
  • four small single pulleys
  • four 40-foot lengths of 1/4-inch braided nylon cord for the pulleys
  • four 25-foot lengths of 1/4-inch braided nylon cord for the boundary lines and guylines
  • four 3-foot lengths of 1/8-inch nylon cord to attach pulleys to the corner uprights
  • four 30-inch pioneering stakes to stabilize the corner uprights
  • eight 10-15-foot x 1/4-inch manila lashing ropes for connecting the pioneering stakes to the uprights
  • four smaller stakes for the guylines, to help steady the corner uprights
The pulleys are attached to the corner uprights with a prusik. A heavy eyebolt is screwed into the log. The ends of the 50' cords are tied to the eye hook with a roundturn and two half hitches. The numbered blocks are positioned inside the 10' x 10' square.
Atomic Drop Components

BUILDING THE STRUCTURE

Putting up an Atomic Pile activity is well within the capability of most patrols, and by dividing the tasks, can be completed in under 30 minutes. However, building the Atomic Pile is not as key to team building and leadership development as is actually using the structure.

How will the corner uprights stay erect? It will be impractical to keep the corner uprights in a rigid vertical position with three guylines like a flagpole. So, you’ve got three choices to hold them up:

  1. Use a post hole digger to sink the uprights into the ground deep enough to firmly support them.
  2. Drive in a pioneering stake and then lash the upright to the stake to hold it up.
  3. Do both 1 and 2 (often recommended).

Raise the corner uprights. In the flat place the Atomic Pile will be situated, lay the 10-foot poles out in a 10′ x 10′ square. Just outside the 90° angle formed by the poles, either dig a hole deep enough to support the first upright, or firmly drive in a pioneering stake straight into the ground.

Knots at Corner Upright
Boundary Cords / GuyLines

Before standing up the pole, using a 3-foot cord, attach a pulley about an inch from the tip with a prusik. Wrap the cord as many times as needed so the pulley hangs down a couple of inches. Using a 40-foot cord, reeve one end through the pulley and then tie that end to the eye hook of the 4-inch-diameter log with a roundturn with two half hitches. Place the log in the center of the square.

When you’re ready, place the butt end of the pole into the hole and tamp it down firmly, or lash the butt end tightly to the pioneering stake with two round lashings. Of course, depending on how rigid the pole is standing, as needed, do both.

Repeat the process for the three other corner uprights.

Tie on the boundary lines. About 4 feet up from the ground, with a clove hitch, tie one end of a 25-foot cord to a corner upright. Walk the cord to the next pole in the square and with a rolling hitch, tie it on so the cord is parallel to the ground, keeping the line taut. The running end of the cord should extend out about 15 feet from where the rolling hitch was tied. This will serve as a guyline for that corner pole.

Repeat the process with the other three 25-foot cords, starting with a clove hitch tied right next to the rolling hitch.

Link to: Larger Image
Set up for a Troop Meeting and Played with during Pre-opening Gathering Period

Secure the guylines. Firmly hammer in a smaller stake 45° out from each corner upright, about 8 feet away. Attach the length of cord extending from the rolling hitch to the stake with a taut-line hitch. Pull it tight. This will add a little extra support.

The only thing left to do is position the 4 inch discs or blocks inside the 10′ x 10′ square. The four 20s can be placed near the corners, the 5s can be placed near the center, and the 10s between the center and the corners.

Scouts face away from the “Atomic Pile” and rely on the leader’s directives.

Challenges. An Atomic Pile presents a variety of alternatives in the way of activities, and even spectators are afforded their own form of entertainment observing the progress and prowess of those at the pulley ropes. This is especially pronounced when patrol teams compete against one another.

  • Within a preset time limit, using a heads on approach, groups of four can be challenged to balance the log for five seconds on as many discs (or blocks) as they can. This simple challenge can be self-led, that is, without a fifth Scout issuing commands, or can be conducted with an assigned leader who does not handle a pulley rope.
  • Instead of the quantity of discs, scores can be achieved in accordance with the point value painted on each disc.
  • Scouts man each pulley rope, but instead of facing the square, each must turn their back to the discs. Naturally, in order to maneuver the log from this position, they must rely on an assigned leader to direct their actions.

Incorporating the Atomic Pile into the meeting.

  • The Atomic Pile can be utilized by groups of Scouts during the gathering period preceding the opening ceremony.
  • During the meeting, individual patrols can be assigned a period where they engage in the activity by themselves, either to hone their leadership skills or practice for an interpatrol competition.
  • As an interpatrol activity, patrols can enter their teams to compete against one another in any of the challenges listed above.

SCOUT MEETING CHALLENGES MAIN PAGE

Scout Meeting Challenge: Catch the Snapper

What we’re doing here is challenging each patrol to build a device that will set off and “catch” a cocked rat trap (the snapper) placed 15 feet away.

Spacing their round lashings.
The lashings have to be tight and well-spaced.

This simple interpatrol challenge is fine for team building and simultaneously a whole lotta fun! The only lashings required are round lashings, but applying a sensible approach to spacing them effectively is also necessary. As with all pioneering projects, in order to pull them off the whole crew’s got to pull together. So it is with the simple process of racing to join the Scout staves together, and then setting about angling the long “fishing pole” so the sinkers will hover just right over the cocked rat trap.

CatchTheSnapper
Activities That are FUN!

Procedure. Using two tight Round Lashings to join each of the staves together, each patrol forms a long “fishing pole,” and attaches a cord with a weight tied on to the end. Using this device to pick up their snapper, there are two objectives here: one is to catch the snapper as quickly as possible, the other is to work together and successfully complete the task as smoothly as possible. Basically, three rules apply: no patrol member is permitted to cross a line between their work area and the cocked rat traps 15 feet away, the only thing allowed to touch the snapper is the weight at the end of their “fishing pole,” and all materials must be used.

Angling to Catch the Snapper
  • four 5-foot  Scout staves
  • six 6-foot lashing ropes
  • one 3-foot light cord
  • a weight (fishing sinker or some heavy metal washers)
  • rat trap(s)


Careful handling of the rat traps is required!
Left: Setting out the Rat Traps  / Right: Catching the Snapper

SCOUT MEETING CHALLENGES MAIN PAGE

Scout Meeting Challenge: Indoor Ladder Race

The square lashing is the basic type of lashing for most pioneering projects. The more a Scout ties them, the more they become like second nature. That means, when the tying of an efficient and tight square lashing is “no sweat,” building a pioneering structure will be easier and more successful. This, of course, makes the experience more fun.

Think about it. The basic and easy-to-build Double A-frame Monkey Bridge depends upon 10 to 14 tight square lashings.  A simple Single Lock Bridge with planks on the walkways needs 48.

Almost ready to climb!

So, to assure the Scouts are ready and able to tackle projects that are challenging, fun, and rewarding, they need to feel confident and happy they can easily tie tight square lashings.

Touching the ceiling!

This challenge is very simple, but, it’s fun, and requires each patrol to tie eight tight square lashings. It’s great for new Scouts and a useful team-building activity and practice session “disguised” as a fun, fast-paced interpatrol competition.

Materials for Each Patrol:

  • two 8-foot x 4-inch spars
  • four 3-foot x 2-inch ladder rungs
  • eight 15-foot x 1/4-inch lashing ropes

Method: with the above materials, each patrol will lash together a ladder with four rungs, spacing the rungs FROM THE BOTTOM ABOUT ONE FOOT APART, using eight square lashings. When sturdy, the whole patrol will stand the ladder up and take turns climbing to the top.

Indoor Ladder Race
6-foot Ladder Legs for Lower Ceilings

SCOUT MEETING CHALLENGES MAIN PAGE

Scout Meeting Challenge: Crossing the Alligator Pit

The real challenge built into this activity comes into play after the lashing is finished. The patrol is simply building a very well-lashed A-frame. As with all pioneering endeavors, teamwork is essential. With this interpatrol challenge, it’s absolutely necessary! Cossing the Alligator Pit affords a superlative team building opportunity. Read about and view one patrol’s very impressive accomplishment!

Patrols pull together to assemble their A-frame
Alligator Pit

Materials for each patrol:

  • two 8-foot x 4-inch spars to serve as A-frame shear legs
  • one 6-foot x 3-inch spar to serve as a ledger at the base (crossbar)
  • three 15-foot x 1/4-inch lashing ropes
  • six 20-foot x 1/4-inch lashing ropes  (for guylines)

Method: The “Alligator Pits” are marked on the ground, one for each patrol, 15′ x 15′ square. Patrols line up on one side of their pits. On signal the patrols lash together an A-Frame “walker” using either three square lashings or two square lashings with a shear lashing at the top. At the top they attach two 20-foot lashing ropes, and attach two more ropes at each corner of the crossbar, using roundturns with two half hitches. These are the guylines. The patrol then stands the “walker” upright, and one member climbs on the crossbar. One Scout mans each guyline to help steady and to help propel the Scout on the crossbar as he tries to “walk” the A-Frame across the pit. Only the A-frame “walker” is allowed inside the pit. Note: This activity should only be held indoors if the floor is carpeted. Generally, tile or wood floors will be too slippery and hence minimize the likelihood of success.

Great Team Working Challenge! Each Scout handling a guyline needs to be vigilant!
Great Team Working Challenge! (Each Scout handling a guyline needs to be vigilant!)

SCOUT MEETING CHALLENGES MAIN PAGE Pioneering and Team Building

Scout Meeting Challenge: Everyone on the Tripod

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!

Lashing the tripod legs together
Lashing the Tripod Legs Together

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.

Lashing on the Support Spars
Lashing on the Support Spars

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.

SCOUT MEETING CHALLENGES MAIN PAGE

The tripod was actually formed in a way that puts all the stress on the ropes. Instead, the outside legs should cross under the middle leg.
Everybody is on!

Troop Meeting Challenge: Roman Chariot Race

A Chariot ace during an Introduction to Outdoor Leader Skills Training Session
A Chariot Race during an Introduction to Outdoor Leader Skills (OLS) Training Session

As stated by John Sweet in Scout Pioneering, “The chariot race originated at Gilwell in the early days of Leader Training and for many years was used on every Scout Wood Badge Course as a classic demonstration of B.P.’s method in action:

  • the Patrol as the unit of activity
  • the immediate application of newly acquired skills (Square Lashing, Diagonal Lashing)
  • the construction of a basic unit in mainline pioneering (the trestle)
  • light-hearted competition between Patrols”

The classic chariot race has been run in a variety of ways. This one uses an H-Frame Trestle, which is the basic component of many pioneering projects. For that matter, in pioneering circles when we refer to a trestle, we mean the H-Frame, so there should be no confusion. As stated, there are a variety of ways to run a chariot race. One thing to note: depending on how the chariot is transported, it can be hard on turf, so think twice before dragging it on a nice lawn! That’s the very reason why one way to run it is to have the rider hold on as the trestle is literally picked up and carried by at least four patrol members. Many times, when the chariot is dragged, the “charioteer” simply stands on the ledger and holds onto the transom, as patrol members grab onto any part of the trestle they can reach. But, to imitate an actual chariot to the fullest extent, the rider should grab a hold of a rope serving as the “reins” while two other Scouts act as “wheels” keeping the chariot upright, as patrol members pull the chariot like horses using two hauling lines tied to the transom at each leg.

In mainline Pioneering the classic proportions of the trestle are as shown in the diagram, but for the chariot race, the trestle should be tailored to suit the charioteer.

From: Scout Pioneering – Patrols in Action, by John Sweet

This interpatrol activity can be presented indoors or outdoors. If indoors, and the trestle is dragged, care should be taken to avoid scuffing the floor of the church fellowship hall or damaging the carpet. The following is furnished for each patrol:

Materials (Heavier Version)

  • two 8-foot x 2 to 3-inch diameter spars for the legs
  • four 6-foot x 2 to 3-inch diameter spars for the ledger, transom, and cross braces (The ledgers can be 4 to 6 feet in length.
  • nine 15-foot lashing ropes
  • one 10-foot lashing rope for the reins
  • two 15-foot lashing ropes for the hauling lines

Materials (Light Version)

  • six Scout Staves
  • nine lashing ropes (6 feet will do for the 8 square lashings and a 10-footer for the diagonal lashing)
  • one 10-foot lashing rope for the reins
  • two 15-foot lashing ropes for the hauling lines
See Note 1 and 2. Adjust the angles between the ledger and the legs so they are less than 90º and make sure the width between the legs at the ledger is narrow enough so the charioteer can plant his feet right next to the legs.
See Note 1 and 2. Adjust the angles between the ledger and the legs so they are less than 90º and make sure the width between the legs at the ledger is narrow enough so the charioteer can plant his feet right next to the legs.

Note 1: When using Scout Staves (Light Version), it will be necessary to angle the legs inward from the ledger to the transom. When the angle between the legs and the ledger is less than 90º, the lashings are much less likely to slip down over the smooth surface of the Scout Stave. That will mean, the distance between the legs where the transom is to be lashed will need to be less than the distance between the legs where the ledger is to be lashed.

Note 2: Since the Scout Stave comprising the ledger will bow and possibly break if the feet of the charioteer are not planted as near as possible to the legs, it is necessary to lash the ledger to the legs at a width that will  correspond comfortably with the size of the charioteer.

On signal, each patrol will build a trestle as per the above drawing. As soon as their “chariot” is built and they have selected a “charioteer” (usually their lightest member), two members to hold the trestle upright, and their “horses,” they run a specified course or race to a turn-around-line and back to where they started.

Note: A Mark II Square Lashing can be used to spring the spars together at the X-brace, in lieu of a diagonal lashing.

Rope-Toss-Log-Lift Challenge

Racing over to the log!

If the site where you hold your meetings can feature a “permanent” crossbar about 10 feet high, then your Scouts can frequently practice and enjoy this activity whenever the opportunity is presented. Otherwise, erecting the crossbar is itself a mini-pioneering challenge, and if you have the grounds, can be regularly put up by a patrol or even just a couple of skilled Scouts, prior to or during as many meetings as desired.

Also referred to as the Rope-Throw-Log-Lift Game and the Heaving Bar, this is an activity requiring a series of rope-handling and knot-tying skills. Because the skills that are called into play aren’t normally combined in such a sequence, and because there’s an element of fast-paced, fun competition, those Scouts knowing how to tie the featured knots most often get a kick out of giving it a go. The activity can be a competition to complete the task in the fastest time between individual Scouts or played with a team of three Scouts, each assigned a specific task.

Here’s how Adolph Peschke describes this activity in the 1993 edition of the Pioneering Merit Badge Pamphlet:

Long log! (Isn't that supposed to be a timber hitch?)
Long log! (Good Half Hitch, but is that a Timber Hitch?)

This game is intended to develop the knot tying skills of an individual Scout or of a team of three Scouts. It is important to know that the knots used (clove hitch, timber hitch, sheep shank) are each tied in a typical application for each knot. Additionally, you will develop the skills of coiling and throwing a rope.

To prepare for this challenge, you should practice tying the individual knots and coiling and throwing a rope. The challenge starts for a single Scout with the rope coiled ready to throw. The rope is thrown over the cross spar. If the throw misses the mark, the Scout recoils the rope and throws again. If the throw is good, he uses the end of the rope he is holding to tie a clove hitch on the stake next to where he’s standing.

Next he moves to the end of the rope that was thrown over the cross spar and uses it to tie a timber hitch  around a short length of log (about 4 inches in diameter and 4 feet long). Then he ties a half hitch around one end of the log (forming a Killick Hitch).

To complete the challenge, he moves to the part of the rope between the stake and the upright structure, and ties a sheep shank to shorten the rope enough to suspend the log above the ground.

This is how it should look!
This is how it should look!

When the challenge is played with a team of three Scouts, the first Scout throws the rope over the cross spar and ties the clove hitch on the stake. the second Scout moves to the log and ties the timber hitch with the additional half hitch. The third Scout ties a sheep shank to shorten the rope and hold the log off the ground. The challenge comes when the game is played while being timed with a stopwatch. As a patrol, the times of the individual Scouts can be added up for a total patrol score.

Three Scouts at once!
Three Scouts at once!

The following materials will be needed so that three Scouts or three teams of Scouts can play simultaneously:

  • three 50-foot x 1/4 or 3/8-inch throwing ropes
  • two 8 to 10-foot x 2 to 3-inch legs
  • one 10-foot x 2 to 3-inch crossbar
  • two 15-foot x 1/4-inch lashing ropes
  • seven stakes
  • three 4-foot x 4-inch logs
  • four 20-foot guylines

To set up the upright structure, lash the cross bar to the legs with tight square lashings. About 3/4 of the way up each crossbar, attach two guylines with a roundturn with two half hitches. Stand up the structure where it will be positioned, and hammer the stakes about 12 feet out from the legs at 45° angles. So that good tension can be applied to each leg, you can attach the guylines to the stakes with a simple rope tackle.

On the throwing side, space out three stakes between the legs and hammer them in to the ground about 25 feet from the structure. On the other side space out the three logs.

SCOUT MEETING CHALLENGES MAIN PAGE

Rope-Toss-Log-Lift Challenge at the Jamboree

Scout Meeting Challenge: Free-Standing Flagpole

This design idea was retrieved from John Thurman’s Pioneering for the Patrol.

Planning their attack, pooling their resources in tying round lashings, using teamwork in applying the square lashings, and ingenuity in adding the guylines.
Interpatrol Pioneering Challenge

When the patrols have learned their round lashing and square lashing, they’ll be ready for this indoor challenge which gives them an opportunity to use what they’ve learned in a new way. Additionally, they get to plan their “attack,” pool their resources, use their ingenuity, and put into practice the teamworking skills necessary to complete the task.

Materials needed for each patrol:

  • six 5-foot Scout Staves
  • seven 6 to 10-foot x 1/4-inch manila lashing ropes
  • four light guylines
  • one 15-foot light line (for halyard)
  • one 3-foot cord (to make top loop for halyard)
  • two pencil-sized sticks (if needed to secure patrol flag to halyard through existing grommets)
  • their patrol flag

The challenge. Ask the patrols to each build a self-standing flagpole capable of raising and lowering their patrol flag. Have the necessary materials on hand, and present them with the following design:

NOTE: This challenge can be presented without the design! If no design is provided, and just the challenge is given as stated above, the Scouts will be confronted with having to figure out their own approach that will work! However, the design is ingenious and sooner or later worthy of being shared.

Some thoughts:

1) This self-standing flagpole is ideal when a flagpole is desired indoors (or outdoors when there’s no way to drive stakes into the ground or dig a hole).

Set a time limit and make it a race.
Set a time limit and make it a race.

2) Depending on the ceiling’s height, the flagpole can be built higher merely by lashing on additional pole sections.

3) To shorten the pole if the ceiling is lower than 10 feet,  just round lash two staves together.

4) Naturally, following the design, the Patrol Leader can have members of his patrol divide the tasks so that the pole and the support frame are constructed simultaneously.

Got it up!
Got it up!

5) The method of placing two 5-foot staves end to end, and lashing a third joining stave in the middle where the two others touch can be seen as somewhat of a departure, but will yield a very stable 10-foot flagpole, provided the four Round Lashings are tight and well-spaced.

6) The 3′ cord for the halyard loop can be fastened to the top stave in a variety of ways: a bowline with a clove hitch, a bowline with two half hitches, a doubled over rolling hitch, etc., etc.

7) The guylines can also be attached in a variety of ways (and will be), though rolling hitches around both the pole and the support frame are recommended.

SCOUT MEETING CHALLENGES MAIN PAGE