Pioneering (scouting)

(Redirected from Pioneering (Scout Movement))

Pioneering is the art of using ropes and wooden spars joined by lashings and knots to create a structure. Pioneering can be used for constructing small items such as camp gadgets up to larger structures such as bridges and towers. These may be recreational, decorative, or functional.[1][2]

A decorative camp gateway

Pioneering is used to teach practical skills, teamwork and problem solving. It is widely used in Scouting and Girl Guiding. Many Scout and Guide groups train their members in pioneering skills and construct projects, both small and large. In camp, they may construct functional items like tables, camp dressers and gadgets, as well as decorative camp gateways. Pioneering is a common merit badge in many countries, and was required for the Eagle Scout rank in the 1920s and 1930s.

The name comes from the 18th and 19th century military engineers who went ahead of an army to "pioneer" a route, which could involve building bridges and towers with rope and timber (for example the Royal Pioneer Corps).

Pioneering skills include knot tying (tying ropes together), lashing (tying spars together with rope), whipping (binding the end of a rope with thin twine), splicing (joining or binding the end of a rope using its own fibres), and skills related to the use, care and storage of ropes, spars and related pioneering equipment.

Multi-use table built by Girl Scouts using two quad pods, cross bracing and staves attached with floor lashings.


Pioneering was initially adopted into the structure of the Boy Scouts of America's (BSA) by Lord Robert Baden-Powell, who was influenced by the Sons of Daniel Boone. Daniel Beard, the founder of the Sons of Daniel Boone, founded his organization to keep the pioneer spirit alive after the closing of the American frontier in 1890.[3] Daniel Beard later became a founding member of the Boy Scouts of America upon its inception in 1910. Baden-Powell kept the pioneer spirit teachings of the Sons of Daniel Boone as a way to instill structure and honor the tradition of the American frontier.

Girl Scouts and Girl Guides in PioneeringEdit

Both the Girl Guides Association in England and the Girl Scouts of America similarly adopted pioneering as a skill-building activity in their program upon its inception.[4] The Girl Guides Association in England was founded in 1910 after Robert Baden-Powell asked his sister, Agnes Baden-Powell, for help starting an organization similar to his Boy Scouts, for girls. In the same spirit, Juliette Gordon Lowe, a friend of the Baden-Powell's, founded the Girl Scouts of America shortly thereafter in 1912.[5] Both of these programs, modeled after the original spirit of the Boy Scouts of America, adopted its emphasis on pioneering as well.[3]

Clove hitch knot

Basic knotsEdit

There are a number of basic knots used in pioneering:[6]

There are also a number of specialized pioneering knots that are used to add safety and functionality to pioneering projects:[7]

Basic lashingsEdit

Square lashing binding two poles crossing at 90 degrees

Pioneering uses these basic lashings as a foundation upon which to build. Using these key lashings, countless pioneering projects can be created.

    • Square lashing: Bind poles that cross each other at any angle from 45° to 90°
    • Diagonal lashing: Secures two poles together at the point in which they cross, but are not initially touching
    • Round lashing: Used to join two poles together to extend their length
    • Sheer lashing: (also spelled Shear Lashing) Joins two poles in a scissors shape, to be spread out, most often to form the legs of an A-frame
    • Floor lashing: Secures poles lying down in a straight line to form a deck or a "floor"
    • Tripod lashing: (also known as a Figure of Eight Lashing) Is used to connect three or more spars together to form a self standing structure such as a tripod or quadpod.

Pioneering structuresEdit

These basic structures are the building blocks for a number of pioneering projects:

Basic Pioneering structures: (L to R) The A-frame, Trestle and Tripod
    • A-Frame: Forms the basis of many tower structures. A-frames are constructed using a round lashing for the two poles forming the "A" and a horizontal pole across to maintain stability. The horizontal pole of the A-frame also makes a convenient springing point for a deck to form a table-top. Tied using either diagonal or square lashings.
    • Trestle: Forms the modular element for building bridges and towers. Also used as a 'chariot' for inter-patrol Boy Scout chariot races. Tied using diagonal and/or square lashings.
    • Tripod: Forms a sturdy and versatile base for pioneering projects. To secure the structure, cross braces are usually attached to the legs of the tripods. Tied using a tripod lashing.
    • Quadpod (colloquial): Forms a sturdy base upon which to build. A tripod with four legs. Tied using a figure of eight lashing- a tripod lashing, but with an extra pole.

Pioneering projectsEdit

A ferris wheel constructed by Swedish Scouts
A Boy Scout foil cooks his patrol's lunch on a Double Tripod Chippewa Kitchen.
  • Aerial runways
  • Ballistae
  • Benches
  • Bridges
  • Camp gadgets
  • Camp gateways
  • Catapults
  • Chairs
  • Chippewa Kitchens
  • Dressers
  • Entrance Ways
  • Ferris Wheel
  • Flagpoles
  • Fences
  • Ferris Wheels
  • Merry-Go-Rounds
  • Rafts
  • See Saws
  • Swing Sets
  • Swinging Ships
  • Tables
  • Towers
  • Trebuchets
  • Tacky Taun-Taun

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Design: / Modified: Darren Dowling. "Scouting Resources".
  2. ^ "Pioneering Project: Big and small" (PDF).
  3. ^ a b Jordan, Ben (2012). "Boy Scouts of America: A Centennial History, and: The Scouting Party: Pioneering and Preservation, Progressivism and Preparedness in the Making of the Boy Scouts of America (review)". The Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth. 5 (2): 343–347. doi:10.1353/hcy.2012.0026. ISSN 1941-3599. S2CID 145795816.
  4. ^ Jordan, Benjamin René (2016-04-25). Modern Manhood and the Boy Scouts of America. University of North Carolina Press. doi:10.5149/northcarolina/9781469627656.001.0001. ISBN 978-1-4696-2765-6.
  5. ^ Proctor, Tammy M. (2013). "Juliette Gordon Low: The Remarkable Founder of the Girl Scouts by Stacy A. Cordery (review)". The Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth. 6 (1): 176–178. doi:10.1353/hcy.2013.0009. ISSN 1941-3599. S2CID 145485931.
  6. ^ "Knot Book" (PDF).
  7. ^ "Older Merit Badge Pamphlet". SCOUT - PIONEERING. 17 February 2013.

External linksEdit