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August 15, 2014

Bamboo Scaffolding- government guidelines for pioneered structures in Hong Kong


Bamboo has been used for centuries to build scaffolding in East Asia, and is still in use today- everyday pioneering visible in every city. Where there are industries, there are standards, and the Hong Kong government publishes the document Guidelines on the Design and Construction of Bamboo Scaffolds, which regulates every details of how bamboo should be used in scaffolding there.

Figure 1 from Guidelines on the Design and Construction of Bamboo Scaffolds
Amongst other things, this regulation controls:
The type of bamboo-
The commonly used bamboo types are Kao Jue and Mao Jue. They should be 3 to 5 years old and air-dried in vertical positions under indoor condition for at least 3 months before use. The nominal length of both Kao Jue and Mao Jue is 6 m. 

Shear lashings for joining poles-
the distance between two knottings on the overlapping portion of the bamboo members should not be greater than 300 mm, and the tail of one bamboo member should be connected to the head of the other. Diagram 9 illustrates the proper connection of bamboo members for bracings/rakers, ledgers, posts/standards used in a bamboo scaffold.

And even inspection for quality control- 
Bamboo is a natural material and it expands and contracts as the moisture content changes. Proper workmanship, close supervision and frequent inspection are required to ensure the structural integrity of the bamboo scaffolds.
 While these regulations might not apply in your country (and might even allow for structures that are illegal/not suitable for Scouts in your country) they are an interesting read if you are looking at building large pioneered structures. 

August 1, 2014

WASP - West Australia Scout Pioneering

West Australia Scout Pioneering is part of Scouts Australia's West Australia Adventurous Activities team. The team runs a pioneering course aimed at Venturers, Rovers and Scouters, and also offers their services putting structures up at community events. I have featured the pioneering course before, with some photographs of an hourglass tower built by them, but the video below of the Perth Royal Show shows the bridge they have built here for the last few years (around 2:50)


WASP are active in Western Australia, Ploeg Technieken teach pioneering in Belgium- are there any specialist pioneering training teams active in your part of the world? Tell us about them in the comments

July 25, 2014

9m (30 foot) abseiling tower on the Tropic of Capricorn

Photos courtesy 1st Polokwane Scout Group

1st Polokwane are a Scout troop in Polokwane, a South African city right on the Tropic of Capricorn. This 9m abseiling tower is a Springbok Scout construction project led by Courtney, one of their senior Scouts. These photographs show the construction process during the recent South African school holidays.

Photos courtesy 1st Polokwane Scout Group

Safety standards in your Scout association may not allow this type of construction ( for example, the American BSA Guide to Safe Scouting limits pioneering project platform height to 6 feet). Note that in all the photographs above, Scouts working at height use harnesses and a fall protection plan)

1st Polokwane have been competing in Gauteng KonTiki for the last few years, and also have a few Scouters who are also radio amateurs, so they take part in JOTA/JOTI every year. Listen out for their callsign ZR6PS

July 18, 2014

Pioneering as community service: permanent bridge by 1st Blairgowrie

Today is Nelson Mandela's birthday. Over the last few years, South Africans have been encouraged to spend 67 minutes of the day serving the community- signifying the 67 years Mandela gave in service to the country. This post looks at a permanent pioneering project that serves the community.



I was running through Delta Park, a large municipal park near my office, a few weeks ago when I noticed a Scouts South Africa notice pinned to the foundations of a bridge.

1st Blairgowrie Scout Group are responsible for this project, which is being led by James, a Springbok Scout candidate. The bridge is being built to offer an additional crossing point for the stream that flows in this part of the park, making it safer for the cyclists and pedestrians using the extensive trail network: the park is very well used, especially on a Saturday morning. Work has progressed in the last few weeks, and as you can see, only the decking and access ramps remain to be completed.

A few things are noteworthy:
  • the materials for the project are being funded by donations from the local community, who are active in assisting with improvements to this park.
  • the poles being used are stripped and treated gum poles, from local eucalyptus plantations. These are the cheapest and most widely available pioneering poles in South Africa.
  • bolts have been used instead of rope to make this structure more permanent. Is it still pioneering? I think so.
  • A final piece of trivia that links this bridge to Baden-Powell's friend, Rudyard Kipling, who wrote the Jungle Book: the stream it crosses is a tributary of the 'great grey-green greasy Limpopo' from the Just So stories.

UPDATE: Further down the same river, 1st Bryanston Scouts have just opened a bridge for pedestrians and cyclists- photos courtesy Johannesburg Parks.

June 20, 2014

"Roman blind" vertical opening gateway by Robin Hills


 Robin Hills Scout Group built this sliding portcullis gateway for KonTiki 2014. Robin Hills entered two teams, who placed 2nd and 3rd overall.

 The segmented door folds up out of the way when it's fully open, and slides down to cover the entrance when closed. The mechanism is similar to a Roman blind:

Two sets of ropes are tied to the door panels on each side. The dark blue set in this drawing are tied from the top of one panel to the next, fastening them to each other. The red set are tied to the bottom panel, and pass through holes at the top of all the other panels, before passing through a pulley at the top of the gateway.
 Pulling on the red ropes causes the bottom panel to move up, until it touches the next panel, when it stacks against it and starts pulling that one up as well. This continues until the entire door is smoothly stacked together at the top of the gateway.

Robin Hills built a sliding portcullis gateway for KonTiki 2011 that I blogged about here.

June 13, 2014

Pioneering from Mosta Venture Crew, Malta

Sean from Mosta Venture Scout Unit in Malta shared these photographs of various projects, including a raft, a ferris wheel, a carousel and a suspended platform in a valley.The suspended camping platform was made using abseiling ropes and a small hiking tent.

Sean says:
Our group, the Mosta Scout group is currently the largest one and we always shown a lot of interest in pioneering. All the above structures were of the first sort here in malta. The suspended camp was built by the rover crew, and the others by my section, the venture unit. For the suspended camp we used abseiling ropes, constructed a platform and then we pitched a hike tent on it. Recently I became a council member in the national scout youth council, and one of my ideas is that All the scout groups around Malta build a luna park, all with pioneering.

Mosta Venture Unit also has a Youtube channel, including the following rotating abseiling tower:
All photographs courtesy Mosta Scout Group.

June 6, 2014

Scoutsorama Tower - Belgian climbing wall/slide/observation tower



It's come up on Ropes and Poles before that being able to speak Flemish is a good way to improve your pioneering. This project showed up in my Facebook feed courtesy of Ploeg Technieken and I thought I'd share it with the English speaking Scouting world.

Here's a video of the construction process, including a timelapse and details of the planning process, using models, and the construction process, which included using a small backhoe to dig foundation trenches.


This tower was built by the 92ste Aartselaar - Reet group in Belgium as part of their Annual Scoutsorama camp. It included a viewing deck on top, a climbing wall including cargo nets and plywood sections with moulded grips, and a 'slide' designed to be ridden in a sled.


All images courtesy 92ste Aartselaar - Reet Scouts