Tag Archives: scout team building

Scout Meeting Challenge: Patrols Have Fun With Scout Stave Launchers

First of all, let’s acknowledge what appears to be the source for this easy-to-execute design, the website for: Scouts South Africa where you can download a pdf of the design and directions. The activity surrounding the construction of this launcher incorporates sound square lashing technique, teamwork (of course), a geometric study of angles and trajectory, some concentration, and lots of laughter. The ensuing fun can be a real blast, indoors or outdoors*.

Link to: Larger Image
Assembling their Launcher

Here’s what each patrol will need:

  • six Scout Staves
  • seven 6-foot x 1/4-inch  lashing ropes
  • three short lengths of cord (to secure the shot holder to the structure if your using surgical tubing)
  • one pre-made “shot-holder”
  • large supply of newspaper and masking or scotch tape
  • large enough room to spread out

In a nut shell, here’s what happens:

An indoor or outdoor area is set up so there’s plenty of room to launch the “shots.”  Each patrol is provided the necessary materials along with the design drawing. They are each assigned their own designated area (about 10′ x 10′) in which they must stay. On signal, they race to build their Scout Stave Launcher. Using the newspaper and tape, they will also have to set to work and make a supply of “shots.” As soon as they are ready, they can proceed to launch tightly, taped-together newspaper “shots” at designated targets in the shooting area. They can also launch the “shots” for distance.

Balled up newspaper
Balled up newspaper “shots” are launched at targets or for distance.

ScoutStaveIt should be noted, the “locking bar” (refer to the drawing) is only lashed to the bottom crossbar of the A-frame. The angle of fire is adjusted by moving the “locking bar” up and back. Printable  Diagram

Each launching can serve as a point of reference to adjust the “locking bar” and, if necessary, the position of the elastic bands. Remember, the patrol must stay within their duly designated area. Used “shots” can be retrieved at defined intervals, during which no further launching can take place until an “all clear” is sounded.

Canvas Pouch Shot Holder

Making a Shot Holder—the most simple approach:

  1. Cut out an equilateral triangle with 12-inch sides from a piece of canvas. 10-oz canvas will work if you double one triangle on top of another.
  2. Place a grommet on each corner of the triangle(s).
  3. Reeve a 24-inch length of surgical tubing through each grommet and  make a loop by joining the ends of each with a tight knot.
  4. If you choose, you can add another grommet to the middle and use it to fashion a pull line.

Tin can shot holder—another approach that works well is as follows:

For each shot holder, you’ll need a can and a length of surgical tube, inner tube, or some kind of  stretch band. Six feet works well with Scout staves.

Ballista rigged with surgical tubing. (Notice the cord used to secure the tubing to the structure.
Launcher rigged with surgical tubing. (Notice the cord used to secure the tubing to the structure.

Prepare the cans. Using 12.5 oz. cans (commonly filled with canned chicken or beef) cut three slits in the bottom the same width as the rubber strips or more narrow if you’re using surgical tubing. Flatten the sharp edges as much as possible against the inside of the can and then apply tape to serve as a cushion between the slits and the stretch material.

Sample Shot Holder made from a strip of a 6' Exercise Stretch Band and a 12.5 oz Can
Sample Shot Holder made from a strip of a 6-foot  Exercise Stretch Band and a 12.5-ounce Can

The stretch material. One bicycle inner tube can be cut into three to four 6′ strips each of which are just the right size for one shot holder. If you can’t easily obtain inner tube, heavy duty exercise stretch bands work okay, but are less durable. What works best by far are six foot lengths of 1/4″ surgical tubing! They’re the most stretchy and can withstand a lot of strain. Surgical tubing can be purchased through scuba supply companies.

Attach the rubber. Tie together the ends of the rubber strip or surgical tube making one loop with a circumference of approximately six feet. Feed the loop through one slit in the can. The objective here is to extend an even-sized loop through each slit, by forming bights in the loop and threading them through the other two slits.

*Outdoor action can give rise to a host of variations. “Shots” can consist of tennis balls, and targets can be set up at varying distances. Depending on the elastic bands used to make the shot holder, this simple design can easily launch well over a hundred feet.

NOTE: Eye protection and supervision by an NCS trained shooting sports director is required for this activity.

SCOUT MEETING CHALLENGES MAIN PAGE

Pioneering and Team Building


They knew how to work together!

A Scoutmaster had the pleasure of witnessing one of the patrols in his troop out-perform 30 others at a council camporee. What’s significant was they were competing in an activity they had never tried before. Why were they so successful? Simple. They knew how to work well together. The interpatrol challenges at their troop meetings back home provided repeated opportunities to hone their teamwork skills—each was a team building challenge. Many required pioneering skills and were preparatory to building various pioneering structures, and the process gave rise to knowing how to pitch in and get the job done.

Pioneering requires good, cooperative teamwork. Without it, the project just won’t get built. As necessary as it is to have the required skill sets under their belts, the crew tackling the construction of any larger pioneering structure will also need to put into action all the qualities embodied in the execution of solid teamwork.

Scout patrols are teams. In order to get things done, especially on an outing, they must communicate, cooperate, and pull together. A good team building event furnishes each patrol member with a way to contribute to the successful accomplishment of the task at hand. Besides being challenging and fun, effective Team Building Activities afford a patrol the opportunity to pool their resources and share leadership. Of course, amongst the team members, there’s always plenty of provision for providing helpful support, along with a good show of Scout spirit.

Pioneering and Interpatrol Activities

Lashing Skill Activities

Team Building Activities

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: 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: 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