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Looking for ideas for campout themes/activities?  A pioneering campout might work for you....it doesn't need to be particularly expensive to carry out and it could be done on almost any property, so wouldn't require long Friday night drives. (But it does require planning, making sure you have the right type of logs and ropes, and making sure there are people who know how to tie and use knots and lashings to teach the other scouts.)

Pioneering can help younger scouts finish their First Class requirements to demonstrate lashings and to build a useful camp gadget, and it can help older scouts earn Pioneering merit badge.

If you do this as a troop, make it fun and exciting: build a big monkey bridge or really good signal towers. Otherwise, it's just a lame exercise in doing check-off requirements. Build the monkey bridge in the morning and let the scouts have fun with it in the afternoon.  You don't want too many scouts working on one project because it's no fun to stand around and watch others work the ropes --- a single monkey bridge is fine if you have 10 scouts....maybe even 15....but if you have a larger troop, you'll want to do 2 or more monkey bridges in parallel, or a network of signal towers....just give every kid a chance to help build the trestles, platforms, ladders, etc. 

There is a whole website chock full of great info and ideas that can help scouts and scouters with ideas for pioneering projects (including building monkey bridges, camp gadgets etc.).  See: https://scoutpioneering.com/

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We recently took part in a district camporee building 20' towers. It was awesome but I don't understand how our DE went along with it. Yes, the adults climbed it first to make sure it was safe. The boys made various pioneering structures at four consecutive meetings leading up to the event to verify everyone had the knots and lashings down pat.

That website makes references to making towers over 6' but I don't understand how that is allowed. 

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It's not quite pioneering, but might fit with a pioneering themed campout:  scouts make their dining fly using four scout staves,  a poly tarp borrowed from someone's garage, some spare tent stakes, and some rope.    Good practise on lashing and knots.  (Two scout staves are lashed together with sheer lashing to make the front pole,  similar for rear pole.)

https://scoutmastercg.com/philmont-dining-fly-tarp/

Also fitting with a pioneering theme: no propane.  Only cook over wood.

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4 minutes ago, Treflienne said:

.... a poly tarp borrowed from someone's garage ...

:rolleyes:My garage borrows poly tarp from the camping gear. :ph34r:

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22 minutes ago, Saltface said:

That website makes references to making towers over 6' but I don't understand how that is allowed. 

Neither do I.

When I read the Guide to Safe Scouting, I see where it says that monkey bridges and towers should be limited to 6 feet in height.  I interpret that to mean that the tower floor or the bottom rope of a bridge should be no more than 6 feet high ---- otherwise you're building on the ground and doing nothing. 

Building a 20 foot tower sounds like a blast, not to mention being a great exercise of pioneering,skills,  but I wouldn't do it as an official scout activity because I don't see how it complies with the G2SS,. Instead, you could build multiple el-lame-o short towers (and then show the scouts how to use signaling flags to message each other----but that's another merit badge...)

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1 minute ago, mrkstvns said:

el-lame-o short towers

That aptly describes the jamboree towers on scoutpioneering.com. I don't think my scouts would have stuck with it if that's what they were building. 

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1 hour ago, Saltface said:

That aptly describes the jamboree towers on scoutpioneering.com. I don't think my scouts would have stuck with it if that's what they were building. 

I know.  A challenge is exciting and represents an accomplishment.  Making something too easy is just a worthless timewaster. That's why it bothers me so much when I hear about National simplifying merit badges and making them increasingly trivial --- they take the "merit" out of the badge creating yet another worthless "participation award".

Merit badges should offer significant challenges that let scouts actually experience an activity/domain.

For Pioneering, a really cool monkey bridge (or series of interlocked bridges) and towers that are high enough to actually be called "towers" are cool.  Telling scouts they get to build a "tower" and then limiting that tower to the height of a kitchen table is not cool.

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Posted (edited)

We had a troop at Camporee the other week which constructed two platform towers about 12' high which were each sturdy enough to support a three-man tent on top. The district people seemed to approve of it, so I can't speak as to whether or not they complied with the G2SS, but they sure were impressive.

Edited by The Latin Scot

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1 hour ago, mrkstvns said:

I know.  A challenge is exciting and represents an accomplishment.  Making something too easy is just a worthless timewaster. That's why it bothers me so much when I hear about National simplifying merit badges and making them increasingly trivial --- they take the "merit" out of the badge creating yet another worthless "participation award".

Merit badges should offer significant challenges that let scouts actually experience an activity/domain.

For Pioneering, a really cool monkey bridge (or series of interlocked bridges) and towers that are high enough to actually be called "towers" are cool.  Telling scouts they get to build a "tower" and then limiting that tower to the height of a kitchen table is not cool.

Careful, you're approaching blasphemous territory. :) 

At one time, merit badges were specifically about proficiency. From the Jan. 1913 Boys Life:

Quote

A boy who wears a Merit Badge should be able to do the thing the badge stands for. This will enable him to be of real service whenever the opportunity comes. Of course almost any boy can commit to memory in a very short time a lot of facts regarding a given subject so as to be able to repeat these answers in “parrot-like” fashion to the satisfaction of an examining committee, but such a boy would only be a sham Scout – an imitation of the real Scout who can show others the way to do things.
Scouts are boys of actions. The only knowledge they seek is that knowledge of a subject which will make them "doers." In the interpretation, therefore, of any of the requirements it should be constantly borne in mind that this is the stand of requirements.

https://books.google.com/books?id=3JVqekZbzz8C&lpg=PP1&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q&f=false (page 16)

Personally, I'd rather a Scout be an expert at all the requirements up to First Class than have two silver palms.

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Regarding the six-feet-high rule, National Camp Standards governing summer camps say:

”Pioneering projects where participants are elevated more than 6 feet above the ground are permitted only after review by the council enterprise risk management committee.”

Perhaps these other items mentioned here had gone through some sort of review.

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Once upon a time, a NCS certified COPE director could do the inspections on those structures over 6 feet. Sadly I did not have any time with the troop I grew up in to let them build the Boatswain's Chair we use to do at Scout Shows. a 25-30 foot tower on one side, 20-25 foot on the other, aircraft grade steel rope connecting the two, and a USN Boatswain's Chair to ride between the two towers.

One pioneering project I have seen done, and the Scouts love, is catapults. One of the activities in the old JLTC syllabus, today's NYLT, was building catapults and launching water balloons at the other patrols. It's a great way to cool everyone off on a hot summer day. Staff had a blast walking in with ours already made and pelting the participants while they built theirs. 😎 

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15 hours ago, shortridge said:

Regarding the six-feet-high rule, National Camp Standards governing summer camps say:

”Pioneering projects where participants are elevated more than 6 feet above the ground are permitted only after review by the council enterprise risk management committee.”

Perhaps these other items mentioned here had gone through some sort of review.

Makes sense.

14 hours ago, Eagle94-A1 said:

One pioneering project I have seen done, and the Scouts love, is catapults. One of the activities in the old JLTC syllabus, today's NYLT, was building catapults and launching water balloons at the other patrols. It's a great way to cool everyone off on a hot summer day. Staff had a blast walking in with ours already made and pelting the participants while they built theirs. 😎 

We always launch lemons out of our trebuchet. I believe aiming them at other patrols would be frowned upon.

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GTSS does have a restriction of 6 feet for pioneering projects.  You have to search for that though, as it is under the "working at heights and elevations" detail.  Some of the "rules" are just plain odd, really.  Bouldering walls, for example, are not supposed to be higher than the shoulder-height of the scout.  How many bouldering walls do you know are 4 feet tall to accommodate a scout that is only 5 feet tall?

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This is where I wish they just had more training or certification rather than blanket rules. I get that towers might be tippy, so teach people the proper way to anchor them. We made a monkey bridge and had to use a sledge hammer with steal spikes (the wood ones shattered) because the ground was so hard. But pioneering projects are fun. Make your own playground.

Climbing on rocks is the same thing. Scouts like going up high things, so teach them how to do it safely.

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33 minutes ago, MattR said:

This is where I wish they just had more training or certification rather than blanket rules. I get that towers might be tippy, so teach people the proper way to anchor them. We made a monkey bridge and had to use a sledge hammer with steal spikes (the wood ones shattered) because the ground was so hard. But pioneering projects are fun. Make your own playground.

Anchoring is one of the Pioneering MB requirements, good discussion point is always stakes, iron, trees, etc and what to tie the tower or structure to.  Hardest part is getting good spars, keeping them dry, and moving them to make a good tower.  We were going to build a tower maybe 15', but all the tree that were down were rotten to some degree.  Managed to find four good ones maybe 10' in length, that were not too heavy.  By the time we built it, was a beast to stand up.

Waaay back in the day on camp staff we built a tower with a 25' platform.  Built over a 5 week span.  Cut down trees out in the woods, hauled them out, etc etc.  Built at the side of the parade field.  Tower was 25' x 10' x 10'.  To stand it up we ran a heavy rope and had most of the campers play pull the tower.  Amazing what about 200 Scouts and leaders can do.  As it reached the tipping point had to adjust the back anchor so there was a little rock, but no a a  hard stop.  Standing on top of that was an amazing feeling. (hey, I can see my tent from here!!)

Later years we cut all the needed spars and parts and were able to assemble an hourglass tower during the week in Pioneering MB.  Assemble and knots M - W, then standing up and climbing it Thursday.  Leaning back over and cutting all the lashings on Friday.

 

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