Blog | DIY camp gear
There’s no shortage of camping gear on the market but with just a few basic tools and a little enthusiasm, young people can build their own useful gear. Making gadgets and other camping equipment with your Scouts is not only a great way to save money but also helps them develop practical skills while having loads of fun. Why not try some of these activities on your summer camp? They’ll also be working towards badges, from the Camp Craft Activity Badge for Beavers, to the Pioneering Activity Badge for Explorers.
A note on safety: Should your constructing and pioneering activities require work with axes and knives, safety is key. For tips and advice on storing and working with axes and saws safely take a look at this vital resource. For more information about working safely with knives, we also recommend you read through this knife safety factsheet.
Make a Hazel Whistle
When hiking outdoors a whistle can direct you to the location of a person who’s lost. Because the sound of a whistle travels further than a shout, having one on hand could get young people out of sticky situations. To support your section to make their own hazel whistles take a look at these instructions from Make.Do.Share.
Make your own table and benches
Pioneering is all about designing and constructing equipment for practical uses. Once young people know how to use knots and lashings they can begin to use them to construct useful equipment. For Explorer Scouts and Scout Network members, ambitious pioneering projects encourages teamwork and proves what can be achieved with some initiative, forward-planning and Scouting skills.
Making use of their pioneering skills, these sections can take on the challenge of making their own table and benches for camp with these instructions. Find guidance on lashings and knots from Scout Adventures here https://www.scoutadventures.org.uk/resources-for-scouts
- 4 x 3.6 metre (12 ft) poles
- 6 x 3 metre (10 ft) poles
- 2 x 2 metre (6 ft) poles
- Approximately 20 light poles
- Sisal or light rope
- Construct two A frames (diagram A).
- Lean the two A frames together and join them with two 3 metre poles, which need to rest on the cross members of the A frames.
- Two 2 metre poles should be lashed between the A frames to act as supports for the table top.
- The last two 3 metre poles should be lashed alongside the poles joining the A frames, to form the bench seats.
- Light poles should be used for the table top and tied in place with sisal or light rope.
Notes on equipment
- Ropes and poles (thick strong poles) can be bought from garden centres/timber merchants or forestry commissions and other sources.
- The poles need to be sturdy and must be checked before use. Poles that have been lying on the ground could have become damp which may have caused them to rot. A simple test is to let one end of the pole drop onto a hard surface. It should have a solid 'ring' to it when it hits the floor and it will bounce a little. If the sound is a dull thud and there is no bounce it probably means that the pole is unsafe for use.
- You can start with much smaller projects that can be put together in your meeting place using bamboo canes and string or even elastic bands – this is often a good way of 'rehearsing' a bigger project to get an idea of how much equipment is needed and the amount of work that would be involved.
Make your own paracord bracelet
Paracord bracelets were originally created for the military to fill the need for a lightweight rope to support the force that came from a parachute opening (to take the shock of the weight pulling against it without snapping). Today, this handy bracelet can be used in emergency and survival situations as they provide a durable and flexible source of support. From makeshift fishing lines to a support for tents, to first aid scenarios, paracord bracelets are used for multiple purposes.
Although widely available in shops today, they’re great fun to make. To tie all the items shown below, use a simple knotting method called the cobra weave which is basically an overhand knot. For further details on tying knots see these instructions.
Start off making the basic no frills bracelet. You’ll need some basic tools, namely: sharp scissors to get a clean cut, a lighter to seal the ends and optional pliers to finish off the weave if you ends are getting short towards the end. However, to save the fiddle of finishing off with pliers use a little more paracord than you think you need.
- First, make a paracord loop to loosely fit your wrist and tie an overhand knot near the end leaving an inch or so spare for any adjustment. The knot should fit through the end of the loop when on your wrist. Initially use a small knotted loop in the pictures for close up clarity.
- Now measure the distance between the end of the loop and the knot, the ratio of paracord to weave length is approximately one foot to one inch (or 30cm to 2.5cm for those of a younger demographic).
- Once you have measured and cut the paracord required for the weave, find the middle and put it behind the loop just down from the top. This small loop is for the knot to fit snugly through.
- Take one length of the paracord (in this case the upper one) and pass it over the front of the loop to the other side.
- Take the other side of the lower paracord length and lay it over the first length.
- Then take the lower length underneath the back of the loop and through the small gap created by the first length.
- Repeat the weave starting from the other side and alternate thereafter until done. Check that the weave is neat and compact. You can check that the knot still fits snugly through the loop after a couple of knots because it will still be possible to adjust it.
Trim off the excess close to the bracelet, melt the end (you don’t usually need to put the flame on the end, very close up will do the job and excess heat will scorch and blacken the cord) and then make it into a ‘paracord rivet’ by using the lighter body to squash the end.
Beware: melted nylon stays hot for some time. Using two press button lighters is probably preferable (as the manual ones will hurt your thumb after a while and the metal at the top of a lighter will get hot with extended use too). Alternatively the ends can be pulled through the weave on the underside to finish off but it is fiddly. An adult bracelet like this will cost well under a pound to make.
For further resources on knots, lashings and other camping skills, take a look at the Scout Adventures resources. For ideas on constructing useful equipment using pioneering skills, from Beaver Scouts to Scout Network members, take a look at our recent Pioneer Activity Badge support blog.