I very rarely meet a kid who doesn't like to be part of building something from the natural materials in the woods. Using only freshly cut poles or bamboo I've seen (or helped to construct) everything from 30 foot towers, sleeping shelters, Indian tepees, bridges, tables, or like in the picture to the right a catapult.
Pioneer lashing is one of the funnest classes that I teach in Scouts where if a kid can imagine it then he can build it. For those industrious kids who really develop a knack for the craft, they can proceed to learn a very high level of mastering the lashing skill, including how to make their own twine and rope, by pursuing the Pioneering merit badge.
As seen in the picture to the left all lashings start with either the clovehitch or the timberhitch knot so this is the first thing that my lashing classes learn. Also, I've found that during those first classes it greatly helps to have a lot of visual aids handy such as those seen in the pictures to either side. Pioneer lashing at Scout summer camp is always a popular activity and there you'll find tons of neat projects to spark the imagination. However, I teach this skill year-round as part of our educational program so it helps to have some props. As you can see I first made several scaled down examples of how to tie a square lashing, a diagonal lashing, a shear lashing, and all the other lashing including my favorite the tripod.
If a kid can see it, small or large-scale, then they can learn to build it is a fact that has proven true almost 100% of the time over the years so if you can't build the real thing, then come up with several scaled down models to tickle their brains into action.
If you're looking for a fantastic activity that beats the daylights out of TV, video games, or ipods, then I would strongly suggest trying your hand at teaching kids some pioneer lashing. Learning how to maneuver rope and poles into something fun, useful, or just plain interesting is another great way to spend quality time with kids. These are the kind of experiences that will develop meaningful memories and they will be very grateful for your leadership as the years in their lives transition them into the kind of adults that will find great pleasure in passing on the skill to the next generation.
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