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(Practically) No More Pioneering Towers??

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  • (Practically) No More Pioneering Towers??

    Local Scouters here keep telling me that pioneering projects that are towers cannot have people on it any higher than 6 feet. I have looked in the latest edition of G2SS and it still only has limits on Monkey Bridges, as to length, diameter rope, number of people on it simultaneously, what it crosses (if anything).

    Besides out of their own minds, does anyone know where this rule, if it is true, comes from?

  • #2
    They're probably thinking of National Camp Standard M-70 (M for Mandatory):

    "Scout camp structures such as monkey bridges, obstacle
    courses, and pioneering towers are expected to meet safety standards in equipment and supervision comparable to COPE, but do not require the employment of a COPE-trained director or instructor.

    All high activities (shoulder height or more above ground) must have a reliable protection system and backup system to protect participants.

    Equipment is checked at least every week.

    Except for a COPE wall event or high beam activities, any time a camp participant is engaged in an activity that is shoulder height or more above ground level, the person is belayed. COPE wall events and high beam activities are carefully spotted."

    http://www.scccbsa.org/files/2011_Resident_Camp_Standards.pdf

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    • #3
      The restrictions in the National Camp Standards apply to Council and District camps, not to individual units. Even the restriction in the G2SS for monkey bridges apply strictly to Council and District camps and events but are a strong suggestion (not ban) to individual units.

      At least that's how I interpret the wording and language used because I still believe there is a difference between should and must.

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      • #4
        Maybe ask them to show you their words in writing. At least we'll know where (or not) they got their information from.

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        • #5

          It is one thing to use common sense regarding the safety of any pioneering project but quite another to mandate overzealous requirements that really make no sense. It would not surprise me if National eventually mandates the complete elimination of all pioneering projects and that merit badge from the boy scout program. It will be yet another example of the movement at National towards downsizing the outdoor program of the boy scouts so the boys will not get a boo-boo and sue the BSA for negligence. I tell you Kudu's analogy of todays boy scout program as "Cupcake Scouts" is becoming more of a reality every day. Sad, sad, sad.

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          • #6
            Soon they will tell us that we cannot light fires or play with knives and axes....

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            • #7
              SSSHHHHHHH don't give anyone any ideas... the Brits already had to turn in their sheath knives, with the Chief Scout ceremoniously turning in theirs to law enforcement if memory serves.

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              • #8
                Before everyone gets themselves off-kilter, this is nothing new. That NCS standard - if indeed it's the source of the problems - has been around for more than a decade. I had to deal with it when I was Scoutcraft director at my camp in '98 and butted heads with the COPE director.

                I will say that the standard is extremely poorly written. Whose shoulder height? What are "safety standards ... comparable to COPE," especially in terms of equipment? (You can't really compare manila rope to kernmantle and webbing.) What is are "high beam activities"? What is the definition of a "reliable protection system"? So many questions. I assume many of the answers are in the BSA's climbing/rappelling manual, but that doesn't help people building a pioneering tower.

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                • #9
                  Put it to you this way. The 3+ story towers we used to work on over the summer (each week of camp building the decking for the next week) are gone. None of our boys have ever seen one.

                  Have yours?

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                  • #10

                    Just another scout skill and memories lost to the scouting of the past. So few scoutmasters or troops have the skills or training to even bring pioneering to their troop program anymore and that is the true tragedy. At the last district camporee our crew was asked to put on a pioneering demonstration, when the crew invited any other scouts who knew how to lash to join in only three out of the entire group stepped up. The others watched fascinated as the crew put together a monkey bridge, so some of the crew later on actually taught the others how to to do basic lashing techniques.

                    My question is how and why did pioneering skills become lost to the boy scout program, since it still is required for First Class, at least on a very very basic level? My guess the scouts are just being pushed through with a square lashing and three sticks to make a tripod or a scale model like those shown in the handbook, but that is NOT true Pioneering. The fact that,at least in my district, the scouts and most scoutmasters do not even know how to do basic lashings is indeed disturbing.

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                    • #11
                      BadenP, scouts are still allowed to build 3 story pioneering towers and 50' long bridges...it's just a matter of letting them do it.

                      Granted, we can't build a 3 story tower and then freeclimb up to wave semaphore flags from the top, or the 50' rope bridge over a 20' drop to a shallow rocky creek, but the big projects themselves can (and should) still be done.

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                      • #12
                        I used to blame velcro, but ...

                        BP - Short answer: Money. If you are earning $1000+ to go to Jamboree twice in your scouting career, you are not contributing to the investment in rope and rigging your troop needs for each patrol to do a substantial project.

                        jrush - Short answer: Money. Now my summer camp has to buy safety equipment for Scoutcraft and safety train that area as well as COPE? (That would include telling little Jimmy to not throw Indian lawn darts from the 3rd story of the tower!)

                        It is a lot cheaper to have the little gompers build models. What I don't understand is why they can't earn Model Design and Building concurrently with Pioneering.

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                        • #13
                          qwasze

                          I think your answer is a little too simplistic. Look, our crew has over the years accumulated massive amounts of good quality rope and poles, most of it donated, to the point where our crew now has the reputation of being able to put on a great pioneering display, and we receive at least four requests each year to do just that.

                          When I was a boy scout our troop on every outing, at scout fairs, and camporees used to create various pioneer projects. Nowadays those skills seem to be lost in the scouting community with both the leaders and the boys, and that in my mind is a tragic loss to the scouting program. While others may disagree every time I see the smiles on my crews faces when they complete a monkey bridge or tower and are tearing up and down their creations proves to me what a worthwhile skill and activity it is. At our last trip to the Seabase the teens found some bamboo poles laying around and lashed together a small raft and rowed it into a little bay where they had a ball racing it around.

                          IMHO pioneering is still an essential skill that all scouts should have the opportunity to experience, sadly this does not to be the case anymore in this age of "Cupcake Scouting".

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                          • #14
                            It's like baking a delicious cobbler, and then not being allowed to eat it!

                            One of the motivating factors in learning those pioneering skills was "everyone's safety depends on my skill and attention to detail." Not quite the same if no one can climb on the darn thing.

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                            • #15
                              You aren't going to have time for much pioneering if you are doing First Class in a year and Eagle in an additional year or two....

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