The ability to tie knots is an essential part of being a Scout. In the bridge from Webelos to Boy Scouts the new Scout needs to know how to tie a square knot- the joining knot. At Camporees, field days and inter-troop events there is almost always a knot tying contest.
The ability to tie various knots is not just a nice thing to know for a contest. When putting up a tent a tautline hitch is a great knot for adjusting the support lines on the tent. If you have two short ropes and need a long one, the sheet bend is the knot of choice. Conversely, if you have a long rope and donít want to cut it, a sheepshank will save the day.
On the quest for Eagle there is always a merit badge or two that is a real challenge. Some of them are the required merit badges and some are the elected ones. One of the most difficult for me was Pioneering. I did OK on the knots but the splices drove me nuts. I spent many an afternoon with Larry Mint, my Pioneering instructor, tying, untying and retying my splices (after all these years, I still remember Larry). It took all of two weeks at camp for me to pass that merit badge.
I learned a lot from Larry about knots and ropes but I learned a lot more than that. I learned that sometimes you have to work hard and long for what you want. I learned that if we set high standards, Scouts will rise to meet those standards. Many times Larry could have told me that what I did was close enough to pass but he had me work at those splices until I got it right. I taught Pioneering merit badge for several summers after that. I hope I was able to pass along some of the good things that Larry taught me.
Learning to tie a knot properly is sometime difficult. In groups often it is not easy for everyone to see the instructor. People learn at different paces. Learning proper technique can do more harm than good. Maybe there is an aid for those situations.
A long time Scouting friend and colleague has forwarded a site to me that can be very helpful to younger Scouts. It shows how to tie various knots in an animated manner. You can play the whole sequence or step through the process one step at a time. The different colored ropes make it easy to watch and understand. The link to the site is at the bottom of the page.
I hope this is helpful to Scouts. Bill, thanks for passing this site along to me.
One request. While I spent all my time with Larry learning splices, he also showed me how to tie a square knot in the middle of a rope while someone holds the ends. I have forgotten how to do that. If anyone knows that secret, I would appreciate you passing it along.