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Which pioneering projects have proven to be your patrols' and troops' favorites?


Are there some special or really "neato!" designs that you've seen other units put up that have just knocked your socks off?


Or are there some old standbys that your Scouts have added a cool twist to?

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A pack for which I'm Commissioner has been building a monkey bridge for years at it's annual campout. This year, it's being incorporated as part of an obstacle course for the Cub Scout Daycamp.


After getting a chance to practice various parts of the obstacle course, Cub Scouts will be timed on their completion of the course, and give a name tag with their time to wear for the rest of the day.


I encourage Scout Troops to help get involved on presenting an activity like this at Cub Scout day camp each year. It's a good service project and you can use it to invite Webelos Scouts to a troop meeting or activity. An obstacle course would be a good boy leadership type activity, and I'll bet a patrol or troop would have a real spiffy activity for Cub Scouts after a year or two of practice.



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Today in I parade, one troop had a tower. They mounted it on a frame with casters on each corner, and they were pushing it down the (mostly level) street. They had one person on each corner, and a couple more holding ropes.


At the end of the parade, they took it off the frame and set it up in a park.


It was pretty impressive seeing a 20-ish foot tower rolling down the street.

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At world jamboree some of the nordic contingents (I don't remember which ones) built incredible pioneering projects --


a 24-foot, four-person working ferris wheel which operated with a rope wound around the center axle and pulled by 15 or 20 guys like spinning a top;


a 12-seat in-line swing where the swing seat was a 16-inch x 20-foot log shaped to look like dragon;


a DaVinci bridge which was probably 20-feet long and 10- or 12-feet tall (since a DaVinci bridge is held together without lashings, not sure if that counts as a pioneering projects.)


The COPE folks here would be apoplectic.

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Why are Cubs building pioneering projects?


I can understand a Troop or Crew building the bridge and the Cubs using it with supervision, but I am perplexed as to why the Cubs would be building it.


Call me "old fasioned" but I thought the programs had different purposes.


My $0.02.



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The best projects are the projects that the Scouts can master and build themselves.

All to often I've seen Troops take on projects that sound great and look great on paper. But when the time comes to build the Scouts lack the knowledge and sometimes the equipment to get the job done.

All to often the project isn't a favorite of the Scouts, but something an adult or group of adults think that they want to take on.

Taking on too big or too complicated a project is most times doomed before it get started and having a group of adults do the work watched by a group of Scouts is one sure way for Scouts to lose any interest in pioneering.

Bridges of all different types seem to be a favorite, but most of the bridges I've seen show that no one involved in the project has any understanding of anchorage.The end result is a bridge that looks like some sort of willow tree and isn't that safe.

When working with Scouts and pioneering it is better to start on smaller projects that over time build on the skills that the Scouts acquire. A Lad who hasn't got the skills isn't able to fully participate in what's going on and soon becomes bored.

I found that having patrols build camp gadgets for their Patrol site is a great way to put the knots and lashings they learn to good use and from there they can move on to bigger and better things.

Gathering and being able to transport the equipment needed for successful pioneering takes a while and can be a big expense. Quality rope and line isn't cheap and blocks are an outrageous price.

Looking after and maintaining all this gear takes a fair amount of time, especially if it's used a lot. At times whipping rope seems to be a full time job.

One of the simplest projects to have Scouts do to start with is a simple Commando Bridge.

It can be built by the Scouts without adult interferences, isn't complicated and wets their appetite leaving them wanting to move on and try bigger and btter things.

The favorite project is the last one they built and were able to look at and say "Hey we did that by ourselves."


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So how do the scouts get the experience??????


I have no issue at all, leading a large pioneering project of this type, especially if boys are going to be climbing on it......



After the boys get some experience doing bigger projects, I don't mind sitting in my chair with some ice tea watching.


BTW where do you guys get the large poles and staves for these projects.....it is more than a little challenging in a big city.

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"So how do the scouts get the experience??????"

They start with smaller projects that they know they can manage and complete. - Not projects that adults think look good or will show off how good they, the adults are.

Like most things they need to learn to walk before they can run.

Pioneering is about building and leading a project from the idea stage to the completion. Not just climbing over it.

For my money done right, I'd sooner see a PL lead his Patrol through a project and show true leadership than almost anything else.


As for spars.

I ask local land owners if we can cut down unwanted trees and then dry them and peel them.

When the Council had one of our camps logged. I asked the guys doing the work if they could save me wood of different sizes.

It cost me a case of alcoholic beverages !

But they transported everything to my home.

Many of the National Camp Sites in the UK did at one time have fairly good pioneering stores where Scouts could sign out the equipment needed for different projects.

I loved being there in the AM when the Scouts would pick up the gear. It gave me the chance to discuss the project and every now and then give a little input.

I wish more council camps on this side of the pond would offer the same sort of thing.

While the start up costs are fairly high, looked after the equipment lasts well and keeps Scouts busy.



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Giant hamster wheel! A scout in his final year at summer camp modified plans for a ladder to make it. It was about 6 feet in circumference, and flexible with no axel. So, it operated more like a tank tread than a stationary wheel.


He didn't have fresh wood, so it only lasted a few "rotations", but it was fun watching him work it out.

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There are hundreds of great pioneering projects, often limited only by how much rope you have available.


A satisfactory trebuchet (often, incorrectly, "catapult" [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catapult ]) can be lashed together with fairly light spars, using a bucket of rocks (or Scouts pulling on a rope) at the short end for energy. We had one throwing water balloons almost 150 feet into a swimming pool full of other Scouts.


When doing our own summer camp in a camp with a stream dividing the ground, a bridge was often selected as a worthwhile project.


We have done swings, and carrousels.


If you can get a copy of John Thurman's books on pioneering (I have "Pioneering Principles," "Progressive Pioneering," and "Fun With Ropes and Spars."), they have a wealth of ideas (even given his occasional strange idea about lashing for a tripod, shared from time-to-time by B.S.A.). They show up on eBay and Amazon. They are in the public domain and can be copied.


I look for abandoned farmland that is for sale for years. Saplings tend to spring up and can make wonderful pioneering material. Around here, they are mostly maple and ash. They will be plowed under if the property sells. I have not been denied permission yet.

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