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Greater Toronto Council

Scouts Canada

Help and Information
Drying Food
Tuning for success
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Rope Bridge
HSR Hints
Square Lashings

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 moments.

If you send scouts off with tools or directions that are inadequate, then you are encouraging failure.

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 possible.

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.


Successful Cooking!

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 F for one hour.

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 for lashing.

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 slip apart.

When you use a tarp as a shelter, use 2 guy lines in the corners, set at 90. Install ropes diagonally across the top of the tarp to prevent it from becoming a sail and reduce the stress on the grommets.