Wooden poles are the main ingredients in building a pioneering structure. Everyone knows what a pole is. Depending on the project at hand, we use them in all different lengths and diameters. Are there differences between poles? And, while we’re on the subject, why do we keep referring to certain poles as spars?
What is a spar? Simply stated, in pioneering, a spar is a thick, strong pole. Obviously, a pioneering project has to be able to withstand the strain and stress that will occur while performing its intended function. We cannot build a structure out of spindly sticks tied together with string and expect it to work. We use spars lashed together with good, natural fiber rope! Here’s what you should know:
The best spars for pioneering are straight with a minimum of taper.
- The diameter of a spar is measured at the butt end, not the tip. Depending on what’s being built, butt ends are frequently between two and four inches thick.
- Spars can be any length, depending on what’s being built. In Scout Pioneering, the most common sizes are six, eight, ten, and twelve feet, and sometimes fourteen, sixteen, and even longer.
- For pioneering projects, spars should be skinned. If the bark moves when the project is under strain, lashings can slip. Also, skinned spars last longer, and the projects look nicer.
- Spars should be stored out of the weather and regularly inspected for soundness.
Is a Scout Stave a spar? No. By themselves, they’re too skinny. Scout Staves (hiking staffs) are great for instruction and small projects, but a 5-foot Scout stave is a strong stick, not a spar. Many camp gadgets can be built using these short, smaller diameter poles.
A word about Scout Staves. The Scout staff (plural “staves”) hails back from the days of Baden Powell when it was even considered part of the Scout uniform. There are many uses for the Scout staff, and these are in addition to its many uses in making camp gadgets. With Scout Staves, we can combine the principles of Leave No Trace with a timeless Scouting tradition! Carry them on outings and put them to good use to improve your campsite! The Useful Scout Stave
Is a bamboo pole a spar? A bamboo pole is a bamboo pole. Large diameter bamboo is certainly thick, and depending on its condition, also strong, however it should be born in mind, bamboo can withstand vertical stress much better than horizontal stress. It’s fine for a variety of pioneering uses because it grows so straight, and for its size it’s very lightweight. Due to it’s slick surface, lashing bamboo poles together can often present additional challenges.
Where do I get pioneering poles? Stands of trees with the right characteristics grow in numerous locations. Get permission from the land owners and perform a conservation project! Under most conditions, thinning out the land encourages a healthier tree population. But, get permission and be prudent. Each spar is a prize and with the proper care will last for several years of repeated use.