When you set a scout to a task, tune for success!
Whether it is the perfect
pancake or a well placed shot from a catapult that actually works, there is no finer
reward for a scouter than to see a scout succeed. There are never any guarantees, but the
equipment you use and the plan you follow, should not get in the way of those wondrous
If you send scouts off with tools or directions that are inadequate, then you are
If you use the right tools the job is simpler. As scouters we should always try our
hardest to provide the tools, both the physical and the mental that will make success
This list of ideas is certainly not the end of the
story. I am sure that many of you have your own tricks that make your program successful.
If your would like to share them, then please send me a note and I will add to the
"Tuning for Success" page.
° F for one hour.
All too often the pots and pans that find their way
into the patrol box are discards. They are warped, dented, and without lids. The worst
offender is most often the frying pan. If you expect scouts to learn to cook meals
properly and to take pride in their productions then give them the right tools.
Cast aluminum griddles that do not warp and frying pans that have flat bottoms are a
must. The best frying pans are cast iron. Do not use Teflon or other coated pans or they
will be destroyed the first time the scout walks away from them with the heat left on. One
of the great advantages of the cast aluminum griddle and cast Iron frying pans is that
they can be put through a cycle in a self cleaning oven and they will come out as clean as
the day they were made; no scrubbing, no oven cleaner. The cast iron can be resized by
coating it, inside and out, with cooking oil and baking at 375
Patrol equipment should include a cutting board, a good can opener, and a measuring
cup. Cutting carrots on a plastic or metal plate is a sure way to ruin the plate. The
cheap 99¢ can opener offers only frustration and cut fingers. A proper measuring cup
should discourage the use of someone's giant mug to measure critical amounts of liquid
(especially in something like Hamburger Helper).
Level stoves with a few appropriately placed rocks or sticks before using
a griddle. It
is much easier to level a stove than the whole table. Pour a bit of water on the cold
griddle and watch the way it runs to determine were to place the rocks.
Ropes and Pioneering
Knots and lashings are hard to learn at the best of
times but when the rope itself fights you, then they are impossible. Too many troops buy
the cheap yellow polypropylene stuff (calling it rope is too generous) and then expect the
youth to perform miracles with it. Please relegate the polypropylene to cloths lines and
holding up your tarp.
For knots and lashing buy some 1/4 inch braided nylon or polyester. Natural ropes such
as sisal and hemp are fine for teaching but harder to work with in the field. They are
also 1/3 the strength of the synthetics. Teaching ropes should be minimum of 1/4 inch in
diameter to allow the youth to see how the knot is progressing. 4-5 metre lengths are best
To cut synthetic ropes, mark lengths by wrapping masking tape around the rope, then cut
through the tape and melt the ends before you remove the tape.
When you teach square lashing show the youth how to end the lashing with two half
hitches pulled in tight to the lashing. The result is still the clove hitch, but this
technique ensures that the clove hitch does not end up 10cm out along the spar.
It may be easier to buy doweling for spars but lashings will not hold very well. It
takes time to acquire a supply of natural spars but they will certainly give you better
results. Natural spars should always be cut green. Deadfall is too likely to break.
Stoves and Lanterns
Oil the pumps before you go to camp, especially
winter camp. Also go to camp with filled tanks. There is nothing more frustrating than
trying to light a lantern for camp setup and finding the pump dried out or the tank empty.
Carry the lanterns in your car not the trailer. The mantle is a lot less likely to
break in transit.
When the tip of the generator in your stove is leaking and there is a small yellow
flame, extinguish the stove and tighten the tip with a wrench (not pliers or vise grips)
while the metal is hot.
Carry a dish detergent bottle of 50-50 soap and water solution with your propane
equipment. Squirting the solution onto the propane connections to test them.
When a naphtha stove is flooded, turn it off, extinguish the flame, remove the tank,
take the stove away from the cooking area and turn it upside down. The excess fuel will
spill out and then you will be ready to light the stove properly. If you try to simply
burn the fuel off it will take quite a long time.
Use butane barbecue lighters to light lanterns and stoves. They are great for
preventing burnt fingers and singed hair. Do not throw then out, just because they have
run out of fuel. They still produce a spark that will light a stove. Always have a fresh
one on hand to light lanterns, however, because a spark tends to be less reliable and the
lantern will light with a bit of an explosion at times.
Write the size of a tarp in the four corners with a
permanent marker. This will eliminate the guesswork of selecting the proper sized tarp.
Most often one of the corners will be rolled to the outside. Roll the tarp as you would a
flag. Once rolled a short piece of rope can be used to secure it. Folded tarps tend to
When you use a tarp as a shelter, use 2 guy lines in the corners, set at 90º. Install
ropes diagonally across the top of the tarp to prevent it from becoming a sail and reduce
the stress on the grommets.