Our scouts have been working on their Pioneering skills at our weekly meetings since our return after Christmas. We started off with the basic knots - reef, bowline, figure 8, and clove hitch. Our experienced scouts got to teach our new scouts so that they learned from their peers and had a bit more fun. We quickly progressed on to square lashings, then diagonal lashings and timber hitches. Week 4 was tripods and week 5 was round lashings. We put it all together to make miniature hour glass towers at our meeting last week. However, the real test was on Sunday when the scouts would put their skills to the test in building something they had never seen previously using skills that our group had never used before. They were going to use anchor systems with tourniquet knots as well as mechanical advantage pully systems to tighten ropes and build a bridge.
Some of the scouts were to build an alter fire for us to cook our lunch on. We felt it was really important for the scouts to see a practical use for all the knots and lashings they had learnt over the past 5-6 weeks rather than just seeing them in isolation at the meetings. Pioneering would be very boring if you don't get to see what the end product is.
We split the scouts into two groups and set them to work. The first job was to sort out what poles were needed and remove all the marking tape from them. That took a while. The scouts building the altar fire knew what needed to be done and cracked on with it. The group building the bridge had no idea what was involved so followed step by step instructions starting with two double A-Frames. They needed to be the same size so that the bridge would be level. The a-Frames were guyed out to support them standing upright.
Next a deadman's anchor was positioned at one end of bridge to anchor the foot rope. Brendan explained to the scouts how to construct it and tie the tourniquet knot. Once that was done, they all went to the other end and constructed a 3-2-1 anchor to show an alternative method. A 4:1 mechanical advantage was set up to get some tension on the foot rope. Again Brendan explained how to rig this and showed the scouts how it worked. The heaved on the rope and managed to get some serious tension on it.
While the handrails were added to the bridge, the fire was lit for lunch - sausage sandwiches. The scouts who had built the fire turned their attention to building a dresser/storage gadget using quadpods and a-frames. Another new lashing (floor lashing) was introduced to them as well. Jenna and Michelle got to cooking. Not sure how it ended up as them two, but they managed to not destroy a few sausages and we all sat down to eat once they were ready.
After lunch Brendan reviewed the rope bridge and anchor system with all of the scouts and everyone who wanted to, had a go on the bridge. The handrails were a bit loose, but sure that just made it all the more challenging and fun.
The final challenge of the day was to try and build a full size hour glass tower. The scouts had built miniature ones at their meeting on Thursday, but now it was time to see if the lessons learned could be applied to a larger scale. The PLs led it. While that was being done, the rest of the scouts got to work taking apart the gadgets they had built and getting the poles and sisal back into the stores. It seemed that the PLs underestimated the time and strength required to complete the tower and it had to be abandoned before it could be finished.
We had one final thing to do. One of our PLs, Jenna, was fundraising for a trip to South Africa to build schools and teach kids there. She decided to let the scouts throw wet sponges and plates of shaving foam at her (for a small fee) while she was locked into Medieval Stocks. Thanks to all of the scouts and parents for supporting the fundraiser. Jenna achieved her target and will hopefully be looking for more fundraising ideas if she gets selected to go on the trip.