For those interested in starting a pioneering program in their unit, it’s often suggested that one of the first things to procure is a supply of Scout Staves. The BSA Supply Division’s Scout Hiking Staff is still the best deal on the market for Scout Staves. You can order them through your local Scout shop.
They’re very practical for teaching lashings.
They can be used for a variety of involving and fun interpatrol competitions and Scout meeting challenges
They’re exceedingly useful on outings
A SCOUT STAFF, by Robert Baden-Powell:
“The Scout staff is a useful addition to the kit of the Scout. Personally, I have found it an invaluable assistant when traversing mountains or boulder-strewn country and especially in night work in forest or bush. Also, by carving upon it various signs representing his achievements, the staff gradually becomes a record as well as a treasured companion to the Scout.
“The Scout staff is a strong stick about as high as your nose, marked in feet and inches for measuring. The staff is useful for all sorts of things, such as making a stretcher, keeping back a crowd, jumping over a ditch, testing the depth of a river, keeping in touch with the rest of your Patrol in the dark. You can help another Scout over a high wall if you hold your staff horizontally between your hands and make a step for him; he can then give you a hand from above. Several staves can be used for building a light bridge, a hut or a flag staff. There are many other uses for the staff. In fact, you will soon find that if you don’t have your staff with you, you will always be wanting it. If you get the chance, cut your own staff. But remember to get permission first.”
Background and History. Washing mealtime utensils on a camping trip can range from using paper plates (no washing) to “Philmont-style” (lick ’em clean and sanitize in boiling water). Through the years, Scouting has come up with a variety of “dish washing assembly line” configurations. For a wide range of field applications, the three container approach has proven itself tried and true.
Here’s the method featured in the current edition of the Scouts BSA Handbook:
1st container: Wash Pot (hot water with a few drops of biodegradable soap)
2nd container: Cold-Rinse Pot (cold water with a sanitizing tablet or a few drops of bleach to kill bacteria)
3rd container: Hot-Rinse Pot (clean, hot water)
On many overnight camping and backpacking trips, this approach has been adapted, sometimes combining the second and third containers into one 8 quart pot. In all cases, the initial step is to clean or scrape off as much excess food as possible into a designated receptacle, before placing anything into the 1st container. Most often the final step, is to let all washed items air dry on a plastic sheet. Even when wash basins are used on front-country, “car-camping” trips, the whole production frequently takes place right on the ground. This is always the case when there are no picnic tables, limited table space, or when tables are being used for other things. Improving the campsite, making it more comfortable, making kitchen tasks more convenient, being resourceful and using one’s ingenuity is what creating camp gadgets are all about. That’s why the Scout Stave Dish Washing Rack was devised.
Two challenges. 1) Drawings for dish washing rack designs are common. But, until you make one and try it with full containers of water, it’s difficult to realize what the main challenge really is—to keep the containers from crashing down because they’re too heavy! Depending on the containers used, an average wash basin won’t have enough of a lip to hold it in place or is just too flimsy to keep it’s shape when filled with water. That’s why lashing together a framework alone usually won’t suffice. Therefore, in addition to the framework, this design includes a bottom platform made up of two Scout Staves for the basins to rest upon, which solves the weight issue. 2) The next challenge is one that’s common to many a pioneering structure, be it large or small. How do we keep the rack itself from falling over? We overcome this basic concern by bringing into play the same stability solution used in making a simple camp table. It’s exactly the same concept that keeps a Double A-Frame Monkey Bridge erect. Like the table, we connect two upright A-frames with a rope, and using the same rope, we anchor them securely in place on either side. Here’s what you’ll need:
ten 5-foot Scout Staves
fourteen 6-foot x 1/4-inch lashing ropes
one 20-foot x 1/4-inch lashing rope
two narrow pioneering stakes
three wash basins (For convenience, the wash basins we used were very inexpensive and easy to find. Purchased were three 18-quart Sterilite basins from Walmart.)
Make the A-frames. Because the rack will be holding around nine gallons of water, approximately 72 pounds, the lashings for this project need to be especially tight. An easy way to assure you’ll have well-lashed A-frames is to first square lash the tops at 90º and then the ledger to one leg, also at 90º. This will create some strain on the lashings when the other leg and the other end of the ledger are lashed together, yielding a nice tight A-frame. (Careful it’s not too tight, and of course you can always start with a shear lashing at the top.) With these Sterilite wash basins, lash the ledger in place about 28 inches from the top of the legs. Since all we’re using are Scout Staves, in this design one side of the ledger will purposely extend out much farther than the other on each A-frame—a place to hang some towels (or whatever).
Connect and stand up the A-frames. Tightly lash two staves to the outside of the legs of each A-frame, about 20 inches from the top. The front and back edges of the wash basins will rest on these staves. Hammer in two stakes about 12 feet apart where you want the rack to be located, and position the connected A-frames between. Halve the 20-foot lashing rope and approximating the midpoint between the A-frames, secure the rope to the top of one leg with a clove hitch, and pulling the rope to the other A-frame, repeat the process on the top of a leg on the other side. Tie the ends of the rope to the stakes on either side, securing the ends tightly with tautl-line hitches. (If preferred use roundturns with two half hitches.)
Add the two-stave basin supports. The A-frame ledgers will now serve to do something more than keep the A-frames’ legs from shifting. They’ll now also support the two remaining staves that assure the basins stay put! Lash these two staves parallel to one another on top of the ledgers, on either side of the rack.
Place the basins on the rack. Once you check to see all the lashings are tight, and the central rope is secure and stabilizing the structure, then you’re ready to bring on the basins. Position them side by side and fill them about 3/4 of the way up.
Wooden poles are the main ingredient in building a pioneering structure. Everyone knows what a pole is. Depending on the project at hand, we use them in all different lengths and diameters. But, what are all these references to spars? Is a spar different than a pole?
What is a spar? Simply stated, in pioneering, a spar is a thick, strong pole. Obviously, when completed, a pioneering project has to be able to withstand the strain and stress that will occur while performing its intended function. We can’t build a structure out of spindly sticks tied together with string and expect it to work. We use spars lashed together with good, natural fiber rope!
Okay. So a spar is a thick, strong pole. Now there are a lot of givens, but we’ll go through them anyway, and quickly:
The best spars for pioneering are straight with a minimum of taper.
The diameter of a spar is measured at the butt end, not the tip. Depending on what’s being built, butt ends are frequently between two and four inches thick, and under certain circumstances, even thicker.
Spars can be any length, depending on what’s being built. In Scout Pioneering, the most common sizes are six, eight, ten, and twelve feet. (Depending on what’s being built, fourteen, sixteen, and even longer are sometimes called for.)
For pioneering projects, spars should be skinned. (If the bark moves when the project is under strain, lashings can slip, skinned spars last longer and the projects look nicer.)
Spars should be stored out of the weather for future use.
Is a Scout Stave a spar? No. By themselves, they’re too skinny. Scout Staves are great for instruction and small projects, but a 5-foot Scout Stave is a strong stick, not a spar. Many camp gadgets can be built using short, smaller diameter poles, like Scout Staves.
Is a bamboo pole a spar? A bamboo pole is a bamboo pole. Large diameter bamboo is certainly thick, and depending on it’s condition, also strong, however it should be born in mind, bamboo can withstand vertical stress much better than horizontal stress. It’s super for a variety of pioneering uses because it’s wonderfully straight and for its size it’s very light weight. Due to it’s surface being so slick, lashing bamboo poles together presents additional challenges.