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November 27, 2014

Four resources I'm thankful for

(Although I'm not American, being thankful is something I can get behind, and today seems an appropriate day to reflect on some of the resources that have helped me as a Scouter over the years)

I've been fortunate to have great mentors, from Patrol Leaders as  a Scout, to Troop Scouters, Group Scouters and training team members who have helped me, challenged me and supported me as a Scouter. Today I want to talk about resources that are available to everyone that have been a great help to me.

The Dump
I was fortunate to inherit an extensive library in my Scout group, going back to the founding of the group in the 1940s. These old books have fantastic information, but they are not easy to find anymore. The Dump is a library of scanned PDFs of old Scouting resources, collected and curated by Everything from BP's earliest, pre-Scout writing, to specific merit badge advice, is available here.
Clarke Green has been blogging since 2005 on Scouting, and gives sage advice, shares useful tips, and also has a weekly podcast that is very entertaining and informative. Clarke aims his advice at Scout leaders, no matter what capacity you are serving in, and has written a few books in addition to the blog. The Index is a good place to dive in to nine year's worth of material.

Akela's Cubs
Joy was the Pack Scouter during most of the time that I was Troop Scouter at Ninth Benoni, and we started blogging within a few months of each other. Joy blogged the day's Pack meeting every week for years, and this blog collects these meetings as well as many other ideas for camps and outings for Cubs.

Scouts South Africa library
South Africa was one of the first countries in the world to have Scout Troops, and the oldest group in the country dates back to 1908. This collection of books includes some stories of B-P's adventures in South Africa, great resources for teaching, and a glimpse into how the programme is run here in South Africa. The pro-plan charts are a collection of posters for teaching all of the basic skills in the Scouting programme.

October 17, 2014

Sandringham JOTA JOTI 2013 Tower

The largest annual Scouting event in the world, The combined Jamboree on the Air and Jamboree on the Internet, starts today. Around 700,000 Scouts and Guides from around the world are participating.

Last year, this tower, designed and built by Sandringham Scout Group in Johannesburg was voted the best JOTA tower internationally out of all the entries for the weekend.

Some more shots from my FormIt model (downloadable here):

September 19, 2014

Obstacle Course by Carpe Diem Scout group in Arendonk, Belgium

Scouts Carpe Diem Arendonk in Belgium built this obstacle course structure outside, around and over their Scout hall. This timelapse shows the construction process:

While these photos from their Facebook page show the structure in use:

September 12, 2014

Building your first treehouse

A simple treehouse, 6 feet off the ground in a willow with multiple stems.
Tree houses are a fun and challenging pioneering project (if the safety rules of your Scout Association allow them) that provide a memorable adventure. But starting with a 9 metre high platform isn't easy. This post will discuss the basics of building a treehouse and how to get started.

Choosing a tree
For any tree house, and especially your first one, selecting a tree that has a few branches radiating out at the same level will make things much simpler. For a first treehouse, a tree like a willow that splits low down is ideal.
Building a treehouse
The starting point, and the part that will probably take the longest, is getting your first pulley established to raise everything else up. A heaving line, with a weighted bag, beanbag or other weight with a lightweight messenger line will help you get the first ropes up. You can then use the first rope you establish to Prussik up and place a pulley for raising items up. Everyone working at height should be using harnesses and fall protection measures.

Rigging and raising the first pole is your next task. Once it's in place, and lashed onto the tree using hessian or padding, you can raise the rest of the base poles up and set them in place.

Having established the base, the next task is to get safety railing and any roof or other superstructure up. In my experience, you can expect to spend about a third if your time getting the pulley in place, a third of the time on the first two base poles, and the final third on the rest of the structure.

August 29, 2014

Hourglass Tower at Oppikoppi festival

Following on from the Belgian music festival last week, Oppikoppi is the largest music festival in South Africa, held annually on Northam Farm.

1st Northam built this tower for the 2014 festival, and the five minute time lapse by Donald van der Westhuizen shows how it was built. The tower was put up by building it completely on the ground (method 1 according to this post) by this team:

August 22, 2014

Pioneering at Pukkelpop festival

image courtesy Universiteit Hasselt

This pioneered structure at Pukkelpop 2014 in Belgium was seen by thousands of people during the annual music festival. Designed by Jakob Ghisjebrechts, it was built with the help of Gouw Limberg, a regional Scouting organization in Belgium

design model. Image courtesy Universiteit Hasselt
The pavilion was designed as part of the first year architecture programme at Universiteit Hasselt, and was the winning entry by student Jakob Ghijsebrechts. The pavilion was home to Salon Fou, a hair salon for people at Pukkelpop to get a festival haircut. You can listen to an interview with Jakob (in Flemish) on Youtube here.

image courtesy Universiteit Hasselt
(I've already told you that speaking Dutch or Flemish is good for your pioneering skills)

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.