Pioneering Program Feature: Meeting Plans & Ideas

The following was extracted from the Program Features section of Troop Leader Resources:

Pioneering Information Troop Meetings Main Event
John Thurman, Gilwell Camp Chief for twenty-five years, said, ”There is only one activity in my experience where it pays to start at the top, and that is swimming. It is true that pioneering has often been directly or unexpectedly linked with swimming, but if any patrol, troop, or Scouter tries to start pioneering before establishing a sound background of basic Scout training in regard to knotting and lashing, then pioneering will become unpopular and will go down in the history of the Patrol or Troop as a failure.”

This month’s activities should:

  • Teach basic knot,  lashing and pioneering skills
  • Provide opportunities to put those skills to use
  • Introduce principles of engineering as Scouts build pioneering structures.
  • Offer opportunities to practice planning, problem solving, and teamwork
  • Build self-confidence

As a leadership team, you may want to discuss the following items when choosing pioneering as your program feature during your planning meetings:Troop-Meeting-Planning-Form


Preopening Ideas on Troop Program Resources

  • As Scouts arrive, play the 2013 Pioneering Area Jamboree Video
  • Hitching Challenge – Set up vertical hitching posts and enable Scouts to apply underhand loops to the posts forming half hitches. Hold hitching races.
  • Rope Tackle Tug-of-War – Reeve a long length of 1/2-inch manila rope through a metal ring fixed to an anchor point, and pass the end through the fixed loop of a butterfly knot, tied 15 feet up the line. Provide the opportunity for Scouts to experience the mechanical advantage gained by using a rope tackle by having one pull on the end that passes through the fixed loop, towards the anchor point, and one or two others pull on the other end of the long line, away from the anchor point.
  • Using round lashings, early arrivals build a flag pole using three or four Scout staves supported by three guylines, flying the US flag (with or without a halyard) for the troop’s opening ceremony. If indoors, use two Scout staves and construct a self-standing flagpole with or without a halyard.


Opening Ideas on Troop Program Resources


Half Hitches and Round Lashing

Project the following videos:

Square Lashing

Project the following video:

Tripod Lashing

Project the following video:

Anchoring Pioneering Projects

Project the following videos:

Floor Lashing 

Project the following video:


3 Categories

Half Hitches and Round Lashing

  • EssentialOn a Scout stave or a horizontal hitching bar with a 6-foot, 1/4-inch manila lashing rope, learn to tie a series half hitches, proceeding from the right and proceeding  from the left.
  • Learn to join two Scout staves together with two round lashings.

  • ChallengingReview the above skills.

  • Advanced
    • Review the above skills.
    •  Outdoors, build a flag pole using three or four Scout staves supported by three guylines. Before standing it up, attach a patrol or other flag to the top stave.

Square Lashing

  • EssentialUsing a 6 to 7-foot lashing rope, learn to join two Scout staves together with a tight square lashing.
  • Practice the lashing until it is easy to tie both tightly and neatly.

  • ChallengingReview the above skills.
  • Using a 15-foot, 1/4-inch manila lashing rope, join two 3-inch diameter spars with a tight square lashing

  • AdvancedReview the above skills.
  • With the 3-inch diameter spars, practice passing the ends of the lashing rope between yourself and another Scout, both maintaining maximum strain on the wraps and fraps, assuring the lashing will be tight to the greatest extent.

Tripod Lashing

  • EssentialUsing a 10-foot lashing rope, learn to lash three Scout staves together with a tripod lashing, properly spreading the legs and standing it up.

  • ChallengingReview the above skills.
  • Using three additional Scout staves or shorter poles, join each leg of the tripod with another, using six 6 to 7-foot lashing ropes and tight square lashings

  • AdvancedReview the above skills.

Anchoring Pioneering Projects

  • EssentialLearn how to tie a butterfly knot.
  • Learn how to form a rope tackle

  • ChallengingReview the above skills.
  • Learn how to build a 1-1 anchor.

  • AdvancedReview the above skills.
  • Learn how to build a 3-2-1 anchor.

Floor Lashing

  • EssentialLearn how to tie a floor lashing, and practice by using binder twine to lash dowels (as floor spars) onto Scout staves (as platform supports).

  • ChallengingReview the above skills.
  • With two floor lashings, lash Scout staves or other sticks about an inch in diameter to two 1-inch diameter supporting poles, as if you’re making a table top.

  • AdvancedReview the above skills.
  • Using the design for a simple camp table as a point of reference, lash together a table.


Getting Ready for the Main Event

  • Patrols review printed copies of 22 Pioneering Safety Points
  • Patrols select the project(s) they will build during the main event
  • Patrols make a complete list of the materials they will need for  the main event.
  • Menu Planning
  • Duties Roster

Preparation for the meeting’s game or challenge 
Select those challenges requiring the lashing skills already presented during instruction.



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Pioneering Information Troop Meetings Main Event

Pioneering Program Feature: Information

This post is a component of the revised pioneering module in Program Features for Troops, Teams and Crews.

Related Advancement

What is Pioneering? – 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.

SIngleTrestleThe same skills can be used by Scouts to build pioneering projects ranging in complexity from a simple camp gadget to a sturdy bridge.

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 on these pages 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.

Dish Washing RackIdeas for Main Event Camp Gadgets

Ideas for Main Event Pioneering Projects

jamboree-monkey-bridge-1View: Ropes and Spars

Refer to: “Pioneering Stumbling Blocks for those Who haven’t gotten Started Yet”

Relevant Pioneering Skill Videos with Further Information

Page06 Safe.jpg

In all Scouting activities, safety must come first. In and through the challenges, fun, and rewards that go hand in hand with Pioneering, there can be no substitute for prudent behavior and common sense. 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:

Pioneering Safety Points

1) Before and after each use, check all equipment, ropes, poles, tools, and hardware to ensure they are in good working condition.

2) All equipment should be treated with respect and used appropriately for its intended purpose.

3) Appoint a safety officer who, 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 before, during, and after its use.

4) During the construction of a project, only one person should give instructions and signals.

5) There should always be plenty of room between the person carrying spars and people around them.

6) 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.

7) Wear clothing to fit the season and wear gloves when necessary to protect your hands.Work smart and do not lift more than you can handle.

8) Spars resting on the ground are not for standing upon. They can unexpectedly roll causing injuries.

9) When lifting a spar to facilitate the frapping of a Tripod or Shear Lashing, care should always be taken to ensure the person working the rope doesn’t injure his fingers.

Page07 Safe
Like with this Single A-Frame Bridge they built at the national jamboree, Scouts should only climb on a structure they make after it’s been completely inspected.

10) Take regular breaks to discuss the work in progress and ensure that everyone understands what is required of them.

11) Use extra care when using heavy mallets to pound in pioneering stakes.

12) For added safety, heel in the legs of a structure from 4 to 6 inches.

13) If the design calls for a certain size and type of rope or spar, do not substitute something of lesser strength.

14) Before allowing general use, run a complete test to see everything is working correctly.

15) Keep checking all anchors on the pioneering project as strain is applied during use.

16) The number of people using a platform should be strictly limited to the maximum number established beforehand and announced by the safety officer.

17) There should only be one person on a monkey bridge at a time.

18) Jumping or playing around while on a structure unacceptable. Like with this Single A-Frame Bridge they built at the national jamboree, Scouts should only climb on board their project after all lashings are tight, and the structure has been completely inspected.

19) While crossing a monkey 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.

20) Those waiting their turn to cross a monkey bridge should stay off the ropes between the anchors and the bridge framework.

21) Everyone should stay completely off a monkey bridge whenever the foot and hand ropes are being tightened, or the spanner ropes are being adjusted.

22) When the day’s work is complete, untie all knots, coil all ropes, check all hardware, and store everything in its proper place.

Page08 Hoist
Raising any tall structure requires all hands on deck—some lifting, some hoisting, and some with lines to assure the project isn’t over-pulled. The appointed safety officer needs to be alert to call out the signals and oversee the operation.

Resources and References

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Pioneering Information Troop Meetings Main Event