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August 17, 2012

Why pioneering?

Pioneering has always been part of Baden-Powell's vision of Scout training, from the first edition of Scouting for Boys (Chapter IV- Camp life- deals with huts, bridges, towers and lashings). BP would have been exposed to pioneering as a military discipline in the army- pioneers were engineers who moved in front of the main column of the army and pioneered a route- building bridges and roads where needed. I think pioneering attracted BP for the following reasons:
  • It is an adventurous, outdoor activity, supporting Scouting's ideal of learning in the outdoors
  • it requires teamwork, so is suited to the Patrol system
  • it is practical and concrete - at the end of the work, there is a visible, physical THING that has been made.
 Having said all of these things, I think it's possible to be a Scout, to really learn the important things we are trying to teach, without building bridges or trebuchets or any of the other hundreds of things I've blogged about. Of course, pioneering is something I'm passionate about, otherwise I wouldn't be writing this blog, but I'd like to hear from all of you:

What do YOU think pioneering has to offer to Scouts?
Where does pioneering not serve us well? What would you (or do you) do instead of pioneering?

(please remember your Scout law in your comments and discussions)


Rutger said...

For me, it is a way to show how things work and to use it with respect.
Pioneering is the basic how things are made. Without it, no building could be build.
when i am at a campsite, i always try to build something, most of the time, my five minute table, but when i have time, bigger things like a walk in kitchen.
And if i can't pioneer, i switch to woodcarving, my scouts love it..

Enoch Heise said...

For me, Pioneering is a core part of Scouting that isn't used as much as it should. Pioneering projects are great for the Patrol and building the Patrol Spirit.

In addition, Pioneering projects help build the Scout spirit. They go back to the basics and build character. Here is what John Thurman, an influential British Scouter, said about the subject:

“Why Pioneering? To me the over-riding reason for presenting Pioneering is that boys like it. Some years ago we started providing simple equipment which Troops in camp at Gilwell can use. The demand is insatiable. Year by year we add more, but we never provide enough; because as one Troop sees another using the equipment and building a bridge they want to try it also and the desire to do Pioneering spreads like a contagious disease throughout the camp.

But there are reasons for Pioneering other than the fact that boys like doing it. B.-P. Wrote: “I am inclined to suggest to Scouters that in addition to the technical details of knotting, lashing, and anchorages, there is an educative training in Pioneering since it gives elementary training in stresses, etc., and it also develops initiative and resourcefulness to use local material. Additionally, it gives practice in team work and discipline.” In other words, Pioneering is practical and character building: the two essential ingredients of any program material for Scouts.”

BTW, have you heard about the Japanese Square Lashing? I write about on my blog here:

Thanks for your blog, I enjoy it!

Anonymous said...

As an Irish scout Pioneering was all about the camp gadgets, table chairs from two tripods and a few spars, alter fire, items we built to make our camp more liveable. Gateways for a bit of flair.

As an Irish Leader these can be used as team building, bridges over rope spans, Mental exercise with rope work, and social gatherings Hammock benches for chilling out.

I have been know to say aloud more than once Scouting teaches kids skills and useful knowledge for life. School teaches them how to pass an exam.

Sorry for posting Anonymous - Google wont detect my Cookies on this laptop. I'm John Mack, from Ireland, google me or facebook me if needs be. great blog by the way

Larry Green said...

Love Ropes and Poles! MUCH more advanced than what we do (and are allowed to do) here in the States. Still and all, Pioneering has been the main thrust and emphasis in my approach to presenting a rich and productive Scouting program. Click here to read the "Why Pioneering?" page on my website There's a link there to some really fine "Why Pioneering" quotes by John Thurman.