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Thread: What woodworking can be done at a campout

  1. #1
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    What woodworking can be done at a campout

    What woodworking can you do during a campout? I'm looking for suggestions, from a woodworking perspective, for things that are possible at a campout keeping in mind I have to pack it in. I've thought about carving spoons and bowls as a start. I would need a carving hatchet and some knives. I would probably also need an adze for bowls. So that option was quickly costly to get quality tools. I'm not adverse to the cost if I knew I would enjoy it.

    FYI, I have experience with powered tools and have been doing some powerless work for over a year now (so a novice, with a lot of tools).

    I edited this post since I'm not looking for things for scouts to do. I would like some suggestions of what you could do during a campout.
    Last edited by Robert Hartmann; 05-10-2016 at 10:25 AM. Reason: Everyone is focused on Boy Scouts and not my question

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Hartmann View Post
    My son just moved up to Boy Scouts and I'm a newly anointed Assistant Scoutmaster. What I've quickly learned is there is a lot of free time (for the adults) at a campout. We try to make everything boy led, which means we are standing around a bit. We do teach them different "stuff", but there is free time.

    So what would by your suggestions, from a woodworking perspective, for things that are possible at a campout keeping in mind I have to pack it in? I think it would also be a good opportunity to get some of them involved in woodworking. I've thought about carving spoons and bowls as a start. I would need a carving hatchet and some knives. I would probably also need an adze for bowls. So that option was quickly costly to get quality tools. I'm not adverse to the cost if I knew I would enjoy it.

    FYI, I have experience with powered tools and have been doing some powerless work for over a year now (so a novice, with a lot of tools).
    Don't know where this scouting experience will take place, but if you will be permitted to collect/cut dead wood, and there is enough of it around, you can carry in rope and twine and tape measures and carpenter pencils/lumber crayons, and a few lightweight pruning saws (significantly safer than hatchets) to cut wood and lash stuff together. Rafts, shelters, ladders, first aid stretchers, small bridges (lashed trusses), tree houses, traps, etc.

    I used to do these things with my boys when they were that age.

    Be VERY careful with any activity with boys in groups involving cutting tools, especially hatchets. Axes are much safer in comparison.

    Stan

  3. #3
    You could begin by teaching them to whittle. A dry stick and a pocket knife will keep a boy interested for a good while. They'll do the same for you.

    As you said, spoons & bowls are another good one for all of you. Prepare the blanks at home as much as you can, to minimize the gear you have to bring along. Then just do the carving at the campout.

    Finally, for just yourself, you could learn/practice carving.

    Just ideas....
    Fred
    "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
    - Sir Edmund Burke

  4. #4
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    Stan, we have activities to keep the boys busy. I just held a class on axe use/safety at our campout this past weekend (canoe trip). I'm looking more for things I can do to occupy the dead periods when the boys are off doing something else. I thought this time would be good for me to learn a new skill.

  5. #5
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    I spent a long time as an assistant scoutmaster and chair of our troop committee and, as a result, a LOT of time at scout camp outs. First, you aren't going to have nearly as much free time as you think. Scout leadership or not, there is always a lot of adult participation. That's at least half the fun. Boys are allowed to carry knives, usually pocket knives, so carving and whittling are good ideas BUT don't bring an adze under any circumstances. Those boys will find other uses for it and the outcome won't be pretty. My advice is to go to the first couple of camp outs with no expectations except to have a good time. You will find ways to teach the boys as you figure out how to fit it in.

  6. #6
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    I've been to campouts, so I'm not going in without any knowledge. Yes, our goal is to teach the boys at every opportunity. Being overseas we have a small troop and the luxury of a number of involved dads (the last campout had 9 boys and 6 adults). I'm not saying there is a lot of free time, but some and want to use the time to learn something myself or just be productive. I did not necessarily intend for the boys to use the tools I bring (carving axe, adze, etc.), but maybe they could.

    I really just wanted some suggestions.
    Last edited by Robert Hartmann; 05-10-2016 at 9:21 AM.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Haugen View Post
    I spent a long time as an assistant scoutmaster and chair of our troop committee and, as a result, a LOT of time at scout camp outs. First, you aren't going to have nearly as much free time as you think. Scout leadership or not, there is always a lot of adult participation. That's at least half the fun. Boys are allowed to carry knives, usually pocket knives, so carving and whittling are good ideas BUT don't bring an adze under any circumstances. Those boys will find other uses for it and the outcome won't be pretty. My advice is to go to the first couple of camp outs with no expectations except to have a good time. You will find ways to teach the boys as you figure out how to fit it in.
    I agree with above. I did cub scouts, webelo's, boy scouts for many years as a leader and assistant and I don't recall having much free time at all. Bring a good book and a good pocketknife and you will be all set.

  8. #8
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    I was asked to teach Woodwork merit badge to a group of scouts before. One thing you can do is make sure they all have their "totin' chip" badge, and know how to sharpen.

  9. #9
    I think kids are puzzled by garage and shop activities done in the wilderness. I would stick to whittling type stuff. Make a tooth brush from Dogwood twigs , gather sasafrass for tea, learn to make acorns edible, generally recognize and use herbs an stuff, and how to make pinup art to decorate the tent during extended woodland stays.

  10. #10
    Classic things:

    - make a broom out of a piece of suitable wood --- these work really well and are quite long-lasting
    - make a cane --- if you can find a suitable branch or vine
    - if doing the toothbrush thing, be certain your plant identification skills are up to snuff --- don't be like the arrogant 2nd. Lt. from my survival school class who chose to make one of poison sumac (yes, despite him yelling at me when I tried to warn him, I went and got the medic and told him to bring his kit for a tracheotomy so he was ready --- still had to be airlifted out)
    - all the classic whittling things --- trapped ball, chain, &c. --- if you can find suitable woods, you could make baby rattlers / teething toys, carve out figures or animals
    - if it's legal, I'd keep an eye out for a tree suitably shaped to carve a gunstock out of --- just rough shape it and take it home to dry, then finish shaping and inletting
    - archery is popular, and a self bow is a challenging project (but you'd need to invest time in letting the wood dry) --- doesn't need more than a hatchet, rasp, drawknife (if you can work up workholding), rat tail file (to cut the nocks) and a pocketknife

    if you have gullible kids, pocket a twig pencil beforehand ( http://www.twigpencils.com/ ), wait for the moment when someone needs a pencil, then announce you'll go find a pencil tree and “cut them one”.

  11. #11
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    My father-in-law used to make walking sticks in his spare time. Easy to make as fancy and with carving if you want.

    A three legged stool is another item that could be made by splitting a firewood log and then splitting out the three legs. Just need an axe or hatchet and something to use to do the boring for the legs.

    Imagine the looks on the faces of the boys when they come back from a short hike and there you are sitting on your perch carving a design into a walking stick.

    Maybe if there were some contest the walking stick could be the award.

    If the same campground is used regularly you could eventually make enough stools for all the adults and members.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  12. #12
    I bring my laptop camping and do design and cad work.
    Gerry

    JointCAM

  13. #13
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    Robert,
    when I go to the woods (i.e. rent a cabin) with my wife, I always bring 2-4 chip-carving knives, a medium/fine India stone, and a hard strop. I'll use them to chip carve decorations on a project or two I bring with me, like old worn out levels, boxes, small cutting boards, mora knife handles, or pre-carved spoons or bowls ready for the final decoration. You really only need one or two blade shapes to make most designs, and it can be fun to see how many effects you can get by changing the spacing and angles of border cuts. I carry the knives slid into the fingers of an old, thick leather work glove so I don't lose them or slice up the bags.

    If you like decorative carving, this is a good way to amuse yourself and create some neat things - the patterns can be anywhere from simple to complex and shallow to deep.

    And, if you do arouse some interest in the kids, they should be able to do some chip carving with their pocket knives.

    hope this helps,
    Karl

  14. #14
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    Spooncarving. Just needs a hatchet, a decent knife (a mora 109 is excellent) and a hook knife or a gouge. Can create a life time hobby to love, while helping to develope eye-hand coordination, and teaching responsibility. My daughter is learning all that, and a bit about design as well, although she already has a great eye for that.
    Last edited by paul cottingham; 05-10-2016 at 5:33 PM.
    Paul

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frederick Skelly View Post
    You could begin by teaching them to whittle. A dry stick and a pocket knife will keep a boy interested for a good while. They'll do the same for you.
    This. I was about to post the same thing but the Frederick's post caught my eye first. Whittling is the traditional "youth gateway drug" to woodworking. Spoons/bowls sounds a little complicated and (as the OP said) tool-intensive for a first outing.

    You should probably think carefully about how you want to train for and manage safety. Back when I was in scouts we had periodic training and "safety cards", and the scoutmasters would clip one or more corners (depending on degree of idiocy) every time they saw us do something unsafe. If they clipped all 4 corners they'd "pull your card" and you had to retrain to earn a new one.

    If these are in fact scouts (not clear either way from your post-edit comment) then you might want to focus on the requirements for the woodworking merit badge. That will motivate the more rank-oriented ones...
    Last edited by Patrick Chase; 05-10-2016 at 6:52 PM.

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