Sequential Programming: Monkey Bridge

Troop 86 from Sumter, SC wanted to do a pioneering project and they selected the Double A-Frame Monkey Bridge. Great place to start, and a great way to illustrate sequential programming. What skills enter into the picture? A whole bunch! And with each step along the way, there’s an activity wherein each campcraft skill can be put into action, in a fun way, as reinforcement.

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.” In addition to the “mensuration” skills that come into play when setting out the area for the bridge’s A-frames and anchors, a good deal of measuring takes place to assure the A-frames are as close to identical as possible, the pairs are joined together in similar fashion, an the spanner ropes are spread evenly. (Hand in hand with the building, Scouts do a lot of planning.)

 tape-measure-2  tape-measure-1

—> What is Sequential Programming?


Open-Ended Clove Hitch – How else would you want to secure the hand ropes to the A-frames? — How-to Video / Activity Video

Using Half Hitches to tie a Clove Hitch – A simple process always makes it easy to tie a clove hitch and finish many types of lashings. Several are used to attach the spanner ropes. — How-to Video / Activity Video —

Round Lashing – Three or four can be used to join together the bottoms of the A-frames on each side. Round lashings can also be used to attach a flag pole(s) to an A-frame(s). — How-to Video / Activity Video

Square Lashing – This project can use fourteen of them for both building the A-frames and then joining them together. — How-to Video / Activity Video

3-2-1 Anchor – The skill is to carefully drive in the stakes at the proper angle and applying the tourniquets to join the groupings. — Explanatory Video

Roundturn with Two Half Hitches – You can use this pioneering knot to attach the hand ropes to the anchors. — How-to Video / Activity Video —

Butterfly Knot and Rope Tackle – This configuration can be used to adjust the tension on the foot rope. — How-to Video 1, How-to Video 2 / Activity Video


Four Different Lashings to Extend the Length of a Pole

Each of these four lashings can be used to join two spars together to make an extension. With each there are no frapping turns. The manner in which these lashings need to be applied results in the spars being in a position where they are already tightly touching. Taking frapping turns between the parallel spars would only weaken the connection.

The objective is to combine the spars together to make a longer length that is as rigid as possible. So, connecting two spars in this fashion definitely requires a good overlap between them. Obviously, it also requires two lashings, each tied tightly well near the ends of each spar where they overlap.

VIEW VIDEO: Round Lashing

Round Lashing.  The first and most commonly used lashing for extending the length of a spar can be referred to as the traditional round lashing. The usual way this lashing is tied is with a clove hitch around both spars followed by eight to ten tight wraps that are flush together, and then ending with another clove hitch around both spars.

In his book Pioneering Principles, John Thurman refers to this round lashing as a “Sheer Lashing Mark II” (sheer spelled with two e’s). Same lashing and it’s interesting that he’s fond of starting the lashing with a timber hitch around both spars for added rigidity, and then finishing with a clove hitch after taking at least eight tight turns. When the poles are smooth, the traditional round lashing can be made more secure by adding additional half hitches to the clove hitches.

VIEW VIDEO: West Country Round Lashing

West Country Round Lashing. As Adolph Peschke says, this method of joining two spars with a series of tight half knots and ending with a square knot is very strong and effective. When extending the length of two heavier spars or when constructing a very long pole, the West Country Shear Lashing is an excellent choice. Follow this link to Lashing INFORMATION and scroll down for further information and a West Country Shear Lashing diagram.  

Note: This lashing should rightfully be called a West Country Round Lashing, in that (like all round lashings) it has no frapping turns and is used to form a rigid connection between two parallel poles. By contrast, shear lashings are used to form a flexible joint needed when constructing shear legs.

Strop Lashing. When a quick job is desired with light spars, a simple strop lashing will often suffice. Find the middle of the length of binder twine or lashing rope and tightly wrap both ends simultaneously in opposite directions around the poles finishing with a square knot. Follow this link to Lashing INFORMATION and scroll all the way to the bottom for further information.

Half Hitch Round Lashing
Half Hitch Round Lashing

Half Hitch Round Lashing. A fourth form of round lashing is made by tying a series of interlocking half hitches around both spars. Like the West Country “Round” Lashing, which tightens and secures each of the wraps with a half knot while working both ends of the rope simultaneously, this method accomplishes the same thing by applying a tight half hitch to each wrap. The final lashing features what resembles a two-strand French Braid twisted diagonally around both spars!

Pioneering Program Curriculum II: Half Hitches and Round Lashing

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

SUPPORTING VIDEOS: How to Tie and Apply Half Hitches and the Clove Hitch / How to Tie a Round Lashing

Two Half Hitches Over the Top of a Pole Forming a Clove Hitch
Two Half Hitches Over the Top of a Pole Forming a Clove Hitch

II. In Pioneering, half hitches are everywhere! Two of them next to each other is a clove hitch, and that’s something we use time and time again. As John Thurman declares, “If only we can get Scouts to learn that if you make one half hitch and another half hitch and bring them together they make a clove hitch, what a lot of time the Movement would save in the amount of fiddling and fumbling that goes on when a clove hitch is the order of the day.”


  • Scouts will demonstrate they can tie half hitches around a horizontal pole, proceeding from both the right and the left.
  • Scouts will demonstrate they can tie a round lashing by starting and ending the lashing with two half hitches.
  • Scouts will lash together two staves to make a longer pole by using two properly positioned round lashings.
Horizontal Hitching Post Lashed Between Two 6' Uprights
Horizontal Hitching Post Lashed Between Two 6′ Uprights


  • Suspended horizontal hitching post or similar setup, to accommodate the entire class
  • Two or more 5-foot Scout Staves for every Scout (the more the better)
  • Four 6 to 10-foot x 1/4-inch manila lashing ropes for every Scout (the more the better)
  • 6-foot  x 1-1/2-inch diameter spar set up as a crossbar with a 6-foot length of 1/2-inch nylon or polyester cord, attached in the middle, to serve as a large visual aid


  1. Starting at the center of the 6-foot spar, the instructor slowly ties a half hitch for all to see, proceeding from the left and initially carrying the running end over the top of the spar.
  2. The half hitch is untied and slowly tied again for all to see. This is repeated as necessary while, in like manner,  the class ties their own half hitch around the horizontal hitching post.
  3. When each Scout can tie the half hitch, the instructor slowly demonstrates the tying of two half hitches in succession. (No mention needs to be made that this is a clove hitch.)
  4. When all Scouts can accomplish this, three and four half hitches are tied in succession. Scouts give it a go.
  5. Starting again at the center, steps 1-4 are repeated on the other side, this time proceeding from the right and initially carrying the running end over the top of the spar.
Tying a simple half hitch around a horizontal pole, proceeding from the left and moving to the right: When proceeding from the left, the running end can be carried over the top of the spar, brought down behind the standing part, and then simply carried over the standing part. Dress the half hitch by pulling the standing part to the left and the running end to the right. For a second half hitch, simply repeat the process. Two Half Hitches (Clove Hitch) Three Half Hitches Four Half Hitches.
Click on the Images for LARGER Views!
Click on Image for LARGE
Click on Image for LARGER Views!
Two Round Lashings Joining Together Two Scout Staves
Two Round Lashings Joining Together Two Scout Staves


  1. Using two Scout Staves and a lashing rope, the instructor demonstrates how, by holding in one hand the two staves and the long end of the rope as the standing part, he can tie two half hitches around both staves working with the running end. This forms a clove hitch which will start off the round lashing. It will be easy to see that since the long end of the rope will be used for the wrappings, to start the lashing, the half hitches will be applied moving towards the nearest end of one of the staves.
  2. Scouts apply the technique, tying the clove hitch around two staves in the manner shown.
  3. The instructor demonstrates wrapping the longer end tightly and neatly around both staves, leaving enough rope to finish the lashing with two half hitches.
  4. Scouts practice lashing two staves together with two round lashings. The space where the two poles are joined, gets two tight round lashings—one on either side of the overlap and right near the ends of each pole. (See photo to the left.)
  5. Scouts combine into one group and, using all the materials on hand, join all the staves tightly together into one very long pole, with round lashings.



Scout Meeting Challenge: Flagpole Race

VIEW VIDEO: Simple Flagpole Raising Demonstration

Put it together, lift it up, and tie it down!
Put it together, lift it up, and tie it down!

Several campcraft skills come into play in order to successfully complete this Simple Flagpole challenge. Each patrol flies their patrol flag from a 14′ flagpole they construct using the following materials:

  • four Scout Staves (or 3 Scout Staves if their patrol flag is already tied to a 5′ pole)
  • six 6-foot x 1/4-inch lashing ropes
  • three 15-foot dining fly guylines
  • three long stakes
  • one mallet

On signal, each patrol flies their flag by:

  1. joining the staves together with round lashings
  2. attaching the three guylines about 3/4 the way up from the bottom with  roundturns with two half hitches or rolling hitches
  3. hammering in the three stakes forming an equilateral triangle
  4. tying the guylines at the stakes with taut-line hitches
  5. adjusting the tension on the lines to securely hold their flagpole in a vertical position
Patrol Flags Flying!
Patrol Flags Flying!


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.

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


Simple Flagpoles

During the gathering period, a flagpole is lashed together using four Scout staves. A carabiner is tied to the top, a halyard is strung through, and the pole is lifted and secured with three guy lines. The flag is raised as part of the troop's opening ceremony.
Flagpole using 5 Scout Staves  erected for the Troop Meeting’s Opening Ceremony

Flags engender pride! Flying ’em high is great for Scout spirit, and making a flagpole is really easy. All you need are straight sticks (Scout Staves work great), rope for round lashings, rope for guylines, and three stakes.

View Video: Raising a Simple Flagpole Demonstration

Scout Stave Flagpole with a Halyard in the Pioneering Village at the 2017 National Jamboree

The key to making a simple flagpole out of shorter poles is round lashings and knowing where to tie them. The space where the two poles are joined, gets two tight round lashings—one on either side of the overlap and right near the ends of each pole. The length and thickness of the poles being lashed together will determine how much they need to overlap, and how many tight wraps need to be taken. Using 5-foot Scout Staves, you can simply overlap them about 10 inches with a couple of 6-foot lashing ropes. With practice, a Scout patrol can make a   15-foot flagpole out of four Scout staves in a few short minutes.

15-Foot Scout Stave Flagpole without a Halyard

The key to lifting and securing a simple flagpole is tying on three guylines about 3/4 of the way up, and extending them out equidistant from one another. The stakes should form an equilateral triangle, and should ideally be hammered in a distance away from the flagpole of at least twice the height of where they’re tied. So, if the flagpole is 15 feet, and the guylines are attached 11 feet up, the stakes should be 22 feet from the pole for optimum stability. NOTE: Under many circumstances, this distance can be much shorter and still provide the support to hold the flag up, even during lengthy periods of use.

Quick Lash and Attach
Quick Lash and Attach

While the flagpole is being lashed together, a Scout or Scouts can be putting the stakes in the ground, pacing out the proper distance and hammering them in to form that equilateral triangle.

Before raising the pole, the three guylines should be tied at about 3/4 the way up using roundturns with two half hitches or rolling hitches. Then when the flagpole is being held erect, three Scouts can each take a guyline and attach it to a stake with a tight taut-line hitch, or for taller, heavier flagpoles, a rope tackle.

If the flag is not to be ceremoniously raised and lowered, or with shorter flagpoles, a halyard is not necessary.

Simple Halyard

Easy Tall Flagpole

Flagpole Race