Pioneering is the word used to describe the work done by 18th and 19th century military engineers who went ahead of an army to build bridges and towers with rope and timber. In Scouting, it refers to the knowledge and skill of using simple materials to build structures that are used in a wide range of Scouting activities. These skills are sometimes referred to as “backwoods engineering”.When the last time was your Scouts or Venturers made a bridge from wooden spars to span a stream at camp? Have your Scouts ever made a camp loom? What about a flagpole or lookout tower?Catapults, climbing gyms, bridges, towers, shelters, gateways, woven lean-tos, fences, rafts: with a bit of ingenuity, Scouts or Venturers can build almost anything using only spars and rope. At the same time they’ll learn important leadership, planning and team-building skills. More basic projects like shoe racks and washbasin stands provide a great introduction to knots and pioneering for Cubs.Since the days of Lord Baden-Powell, pioneering has formed an important part of Scouting, but in many groups these have somehow fallen by the way. This traditional skill makes it easier to live comfortably in the wilds without high tech foldaway tables, chairs and plastic games. It also builds self-reliance and confidence.

40 Knots – A Visual Aid for Knots Tying

This is a graphic of the most common knots in Scouting. This knot board was sold for a number of years in the BSA Catalog.

Axe Sharpening and Care
Boys’ Life on Axe care
Boys’ Life on Knots
Boys’ Life on Pioneering
Building a Monkey Bridge
Camp Gadgets
Commando Rope (toggle rope)- How to make

Knots on the Web (online)
Peter Suber’s collection of knotting resources.

  • His major sections are on Knot Tying, Knot Theory, and Knot Art. But knot lovers will understand that these distinctions are artificial. For example, a good practical knot is both a nugget of hard-won technology and a thing of beauty. Decorative knotting can be useful, and in any case requires uncommon dexterity and practical tying ability. Software developed to help mathematical knot theorists has produced some of the most beautiful knot images ever seen. So look at all three sections even if you think your interests are narrow. You might become happily entangled.
  • Peter's fourth section is on Knot Discussion. Use these discussion forums to find answers to your knotting questions and to help others who know less than you do.
  • Peter's fifth section is on Knot Software. You'll be surprised at how knotting software can make it easier for you to learn to tie knots, to explore the mathematical properties of knots, and to create stunning images of knots, including knots never seen on Earth.
  • Peter's sixth section is on Knot Videos. If written instructions and still photos don't explain the intricacies of knotting well enough for you, try some of these videos (or some instructional software).
  • Peter's seventh section is on Knot Books. Click on these links to buy knotting classics from I've designed this section to aim for excellence, not completeness. It's limited to books I can personally recommend.

Knife - Sharpening
Knot Uses

The links in this section contains Microsoft PowerPoint Animation files. If you can't see it, download Microsoft PowerPoint Animation Player. Click to view Microsoft’s page on PowerPoint animation.

  • Square knot: This is a good first aid knot. It is good for tying slings, and can even be tied with one hand if you can't use the other. This knot is good for joining two ropes temporarily if they do not need to be secure.
  • Clove Hitch: This is a good knot to tie anything to a post. You can tie logs together with this knot (which is very helpful with wilderness survival).
  • Bowline: This is a good knot to hang things from a horizontal post. If you have heavy rope like materials (cables) you could tie two interlocking bowlines to join them. This is a very strong knot so you can trust it. Most important, the loop won't close, so it's the right thing to use as a rescue knot if you have to hoist someone up or pull him in the water.
  • Two Half Hitches: This is a good knot to tie around something that is not round. This is an all-purpose hitch. It could be very hard to untie if pulled very tight.
  • Sheet Bend: This is a better knot to join two ropes of different sizes. You can use it if you do not have enough rope to tie something down or to reach something, especially if you want it to be secure.
  • Timber Hitch: This is a good rope to drag things with that has a rough surface (a log). It is tight if one end is always pulled.
  • Tautline Hitch: This is a good knot to use at the end of a clothesline or tent guys because it will not sag.
Know Your Knots
Lord Baden-Powell University – SC101A – Pioneering Skills ( Knots )
Lord Baden-Powell University – SC101B – Pioneering Skills ( Lashings )
Log Cabin Building
Mastering the Art of Knots and Splices
Pioneering Project Ideas
Pioneering Project Ideas via the Web
Pioneering Projects From Hurricane District


Saw Filing--A Beginner's Primer
Sour Grapes Lashing Challenge
A Lashing Challenge to test Patrols on their pioneering skills.
Totin' Chip (wood tools) Course