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August 19, 2016

Cardboard box rafts- Akela 2016

At the recent Akela 2016 camp, I was involved in running outdoor activities for the Pack Scouters, alongside the community service and crafts bases that were run. Alongside a tensegrity cube, I ran this challenge- to build a raft using staves, light cord, cardboard boxes and dustbin bags, and float a member of their team across a swimming pool (around 10 metres/ 30 feet).
Photographs courtesy Marissa Rakic

The idea is to build the cardboard boxes up, then seal them in plastic bags, and use these boouyancy 'blocks' tp build a raft. In practice, of the three teams who attempted it, only one got their 'sailor' safely across the pool. Here are the two unsuccessful teams at their moment of immersion:

The first team built a raft that had good, solid boxes, well tied together. However, they built a narrow raft which had very poor stability, and despite a few attempts, the raft was unable to remain upright.
The second team distributed the bouyancy more evenly, but one of their boxes failed around halfway through:
 The third team, pictured at the top of the post, managed to get across without any incident. I allocated 45 minutes for this, and all three teams had sufficient time, even allowing for around half the team being unfamiliar with raft building. I can recommend this as a patrol challenge if the weather is good. I would suggest having a full set of boxes for each team- in the event that a box gets wet, it is almost impossible to re-use.

August 12, 2016

Akela 2016 "Wolf" Hypar Gateway

I recently had the privilege to spend some time at the international Akela 2016 camp outside Pretoria, and this is the main gateway to the campsite - built by Harmellia Gardens Air Scouts.

The camp was held to celebrate the centenary of the establishment of Cubs, and the gateway was designed to resemble the head of a wolf- with a snout and two ears. The ears and snout are formed with sisal and eyehooks in hyperbolic paraboloid shapes. More information on how to set out the sisal to form the shapes is available here.

You can download the SketchUp 3d model here.

May 16, 2016

Kontiki 2016 Roundup and videos

KonTiki 2016 came to a close yesterday morning, after 60mm of unseasonal rain left the campsite waterlogged. The majority of rafts spent the night on the water, and the competition went ahead- congratulations to 1st Morningside who were all the overall winners!

Hennie Hamman, from Arrowe Park, has produced a series of videos summarising the weekend:
Friday night:


I'll be blogging some more about KonTiki once the full results spreadsheets are out, and once the organisers relsease some more photographs- there were a few timelapse cameras running over the weekend, and I'm looking forward to seeing them.

May 14, 2016

KonTiki 2016: Saturday- Rafts and Land activities

Saturday is the busiest day at KonTiki- rafts are completed, and after being checked for sea-worthiness, are launched and begin their competitions on the water. Meanwhile, on land, the Beaver Challenge competition has run for the Cubs and junior Scouts, campsites are being judged, and meals are competition meals are cooked.
Here are some of the rafts preparing for launch. Because of space limitations at the venue, rafts are built three rows deep from the shore. The theme for Kontiki 2016 is 'Jedi Knights', and you can see how some of the rafts have been decorated to match the theme.
Once the rafts launched,the weather (raining for most of the morning) improved briefly and I managed to get this photo of a rainbow. The organisers arranged for live GPS tracking of all the rafts this year, and this screen in the main tent shows the current location of all the rafts.
The Beaver Challenge is a series of challenge bases hosted for the Cubs and junior Scouts who visit Kontiki. Above are some of the bases from the challenge.

May 13, 2016

KonTiki 2016: Friday night raft construction

KonTiki 2016 is under way, with most teams well into building their rafts. Here are some photos of then shorefront. Teams build three rafts deep in most places, and once ready tomorrow, will help each other launch.

March 11, 2016

Bottlecutter2.0: making 'rope' from soft drink bottles

Image copyright Advocate Egerov

From Russia, via Youtube, comes this technique for converting a PET soft drink bottle into a strong 'tape' that can be used for lashings. Адвокат Егоров (Advocate Egerov) has two videos that explain how to build the Bottlecutter2.0 device to strip the bottles, and demonstrates how to use the strips to make lashings. Because PET shrinks when heated, he uses a hot air gun to 'frap' the lashings and tighten up the structures.
Image copyright Advocate Egerov
The first video (available with subtitles English subtitles) includes some basic lashings and instructions on making the machine to strip the bottle:

 While the second one goes through some detailed techniques and a rather elaborate willow branch chair:

Thanks to Clarke over at ScoutmasterCG for sharing this on one of his live chats- I recommend heading over there on a Tuesday or Wednesday morning (US time/afternoon European time)

March 4, 2016

'CatDrill' - quick pioneering with pre-drilled poles and light synthetic cord.

Catdrill 'lashing' details
'CatDrill' is an Italian technique for staving or lightweight pioneering, that involves preparing the staves to be used by drilling a small hole and notching the surface of the pole. Lightweight synthetic kernmantle rope is then used to tie the staves together, using stopper knots on the starting end of the rope, and simple slipped hitches to end the lashings. Their English website has a series of PDF documents that guide you through the basics, from preparing your poles, to the different types of lashings, and some basic projects. The original, Italian site has some more projects that are not yet translated into English, but the pictures speak for themselves.
image courtesy Scout Trento 1
According to the authors, they developed the technique for the following reasons:
CatDrill is born for solving the following problems:

  • the price of the building material (wood) and the difficulties found to get it from the forester;
  • the price of the rope;
  • to avoid the hazard of moving heavy wooden poles (and the tools needed to work with them);
  • to avoid ties, joints and toggle realized in the wrong way (we saw them too much times in pictures & co);
  • to practice pioneering during our one or two days trip, doing it quickly and avoiding to use the ground both as a chair and as a table;
  • to approach how a boy thinks, who wants to see concrete results as soon as possible.
1at Blairgowrie demonstrating Catdrill at Gauteng Region training workshop
Senior Scouts and Scouters from 1st Blairgowrie Scout Group recently introduced me to the technique and demonstrated it at a pioneering workshop at Arrowe Park towards the end of 2015. The technique saves time, produces strong structures and is worth investigating if you have some light staves/laths you can set aside for this technique.

There is a similar, more permanent technique called 'Froissartage' using carpentry jointing techniques which I have written about before.

Hat-tip to ScoutmasterCG and 1st Blairgowrie Scout Group.