The Scoutcraft Award

[The information on this page is based on an article that was printed in the February 2003 edition of Australian Scout. The magazine article was compiled by Keith Sandford. It is basically unchanged, although some updating has occured].

The book, The Australian Scout Fieldbook, says that the Scoutcraft Badge is to be earned within six weeks of a Scout joining the Troop. Which is fine if you concentrate on it to the exclusion of all else. This howver, in turn, is likely to leave a Troop comprising those recently joined and few others. Which is not the aim at all!
The idea is to give some sense of achievement to the new Scout prior to embarking on the greater challenges of the Pioneer level Targets. One in which the Patrol Leader takes the major role of teaching, testing and authenticating the skills encompassed.
So it might take a little longer than the statutory six weeks, but careful intertwining with other Troop needs and fun will meet the essence, If not the rule.


No Scout can tie a knot without first being shown the correct method and having a typical use for the knot demonstrated to the Scout.
At Scoutcraft level, it is a task for the Patrol Leader to teach and demonstrate the four knots and, if done regularly, as the new Scout comes into the Patrol, could be in a very small group situation. The Scouter will, therefore, need to plan a program where this activity occurs at the same time as the Explorer and Adventurer level Scouts are engaged in their Campcraft knotting requirement, thus occupying all the Troop at the one time.

A simple activity to reinforce the training session is a Knot Relay. Patrols seated in the Patrol Corners with knotting ropes. Scouter(s) placed centrally. On the announcement of a Knot and its Target level, one Scout from each Patrol is to tie the knot, bring it to the Scouter for checking and tell of its use. First correct knot and use wins the point. At the end of the game the winning Patrol should be awarded points in the Patrol Competition.

Similarly, a Knot per night as part of the Inspection process has each Scout, at their Target level, tying, producing and giving the usage to the Inspecting Scouter. The wise PL will have checked and corrected where necessary each Scout before the Scouter comes into view. In a game, any game, where the rules dictate on elimination from play for certain misdemeanours, the Scout can be redeemed and return to the fray by demonstrating the knot required by the Scouter. Knot and use without prompting. The game can become never-ending, so a time limit Is advisable.


As the National flag is in constant use at all Scout gatherings, it does no harm at all to reinforce the basic principles learnt at this Scoutcraft level to those or other levels. Thus this requirement is a good use of the Patrol discussion with the Patrol Leader actually leading a discussion on the salient points to be covered, with the whole Patrol joining in.
The Patrol Leader will require a copy of the salient points to be covered, to be supplemented from his/her own experience. Each Patrol Leader will also require a Flag, or picture thereof.
The requirement to fold, hoist and break the Flag should be built into the Troop night opening and closing ceremonies with the Patrol Leader and Scoutcraft Scout from the Duty Patrol "doing the honours" and passing the requirement. Though a smidgin of practice, especially in folding the flag, during the Patrol discussion would not go amiss.

In the Patrol discussion, you must ensure that the following information is discussed -
  1. The Australian National Flag is made up of
    • the British Union Jack in the top left hand quarter, as a reminder of the first settlement of Australia by Captain Cook on behalf of Britain. The composition of the Union lack pre-dates Australia and thus can be left unsaid.
    • the blue background coming from the Blue Ensign of the British Royal Navy, to which Captain Cook belonged
    • the stars of the Southern Cross, which is only visible in the Southern Hemisphere.
    • the large federal star, with seven points - one to represent each or the six States and one to represent the various Territories belonging to the Commonwealth of Australia
  2. Care of the Flag
    • a Flag must not touch or fall to the ground
    • the Flag must always be flown the correct way up
    • the flag is not to be used as a table covering.
    • the flag is not to be flown upside-down, (it is no longer a distress signal).
  3. Flying at half-mast
    • To fly at Half-Mast, the flag is broken at the mast head and then lowered just one flag height below the top of the mast.
  4. Folding the Flag
    • Start by folding lengthwise in half and half again. Ensure that during this process the Union Jack is not showing on the outside.
    • Fold in half along the length and then either concertina or roll tightly towards the toggle. Wrap the strop around the bundle and tuck it into itself.
    • Hoist, toggle uppermost, to the top or the flagpole and break the flag with a sharp pull on the rope attached to the strop.

First Aid

Knowing how to report on emergency Is as much about helping the new Scout gain confidence in acting decisively in a difficult situation, with the possibility of incapable adults in attendance. It is important, therefore, that any activity be prefaced with the injunction that with this training the Scout should be able to positively assist at a specific level of competence without seeming to 'take over' and embarrass adults.

An activity based around the five “w" words will encourage the Scouts to work through the requirement.

The "W" words are
  • What: describe the incident that requires help, including an assessment of severity
  • Where: the location of the incident
  • When: the time of the incident can be important to the emergency planners
  • Who: a description of the people needing help - ages, infirmities, numbers
  • Why: the least important aspect,

Scouts are not the Accident Appreciation Squad, but anything actually witnessed should be retained for later assessment. By each Scout completing a worksheet, the concepts are instilled for later use.
On the basis that the telephone will be the most likely means of calling for help, Scouts should memorise the emergency phone number “000” as well as the additional mobile-only number "112" which provide access in areas outside normal service as long as ANY network has a service there.

A revamped "crumbs & Crows" or "Man overboard" game with different parts of the Scout Hall labelled for the three emergency services, Police, Ambulance and Fire Brigade, and the '000'(& 112) number. The Scouter calls out a brief description of the event to have the Troop racing from base to base, with last Scout home dropping out. As the Scout numbers still active decreases the clues should become more obscure.

Emergency situations, to which you should add ones topical to your Troop.


  • Heart attack
  • He's fallen from a ladder
  • It's 40 degrees and she's fainted
  • The kid's kite bas touched the overhead train wires

Fire Brigade

  • The car's on fire
  • There is petrol spilt all over the road
  • The young child is stuck up a tree
  • There is smoke pouring out of the roof
  • The grass in the paddock is alight
  • Corrosive chemicals have been split over the road


  • A man is holding up the bank
  • Two cars have collided in the Main road
  • Two kids have knocked down the paper seller
  • The school bus has run off the road into a ditch
  • There is a truck broken down in the middle of the main intersection
  • There is an unregistered vehicle in the car park

First Aid

The first steps in 1st Aid to control bleeding can be summarised as:

  • Immediate pressure on the wound, with or without a dressing Washing away excess blood, whilst maintaining pressure
  • If possible, closing the wound
  • Applying a dressing, a "Band-Aid" or a wound dressing
  • Taking care at all times to avoid the transmission of disease and infection from the wounded to the First Aider.
  • Whilst taking this urgent action, the First Aider should also be calming the patient, reassuring the patient that assistance is at hand and that the wound will be dealt with.
  • As soon as practicable extra help, depending on the nature of the wound, should be called for. For example; another Scout to assist in dressing a minor wound or calling for an ambulance for a major injury.

Apart from demonstrating how to apply an Elastoplast or a wound dressing, this requirement is a matter of the Scout describing the actions above and showing an understanding of why these actions should be taken. A small group discussion will allow each Scout to demonstrate their knowledge and to feed off the experiences of others.
By building this simple requirement into a Mock Emergency scenario a more realistic situation can apply, ensure the lessons are really learnt by the Scoutcraft Scout.

Safety with camping tools

The Knife

Knowing the details of law that surround knives means the involvement of an expert. The obvious starting point is the local Police station. A small group discussion can be used or an invited expert may prefer a larger body. In which case an invitation should be issued through Mindari to adjacent Troops for a joint meeting.

Regardless of your location the Association's rules are unambiguous, "Knives other than clasp knives are prohibited" (AP&R R 12.9)
The safety and care of a pocket knife are best demonstrated by the Scout actually handling the utensil and having the positive aspects as well as the dangerous aspects pointed out as they happen. In a small group situation, with either the Patrol Leader or Scouter, should hand a closed knife to the Scout(s) and ask them to open it and sharpen a pencil, or perform another simple task with the knife. Whilst performing the task, suddenly request that the knife be handed back to the Patrol Leader or Scouter.

Throughout this exercise, watch for and comment upon:

  • the way of handling the knife - keeping the cutting edge away from flesh and clothing
  • b) opening and closing the knife, taking care not to catch fingers whilst doing so
  • making sure that others around will not jog the user whilst opening, closing or using the knife
  • using the knife with strokes away from the body and not towards another person
  • when passing the knife to another, either closing it or passing it handle first, and not accepting a knife from another person, blade first
  • closing the k nife when finished using it and placing it safely on a table or the ground
  • not impaling an open knife into the ground or another surface
  • not throwing the knife to another person, nor onto the ground, even if closed
  • not wearing knives, or keeping in pockets, during games
  • the need to keep dirt and grit, especially sand, out of the blade hinges
  • the need to keep the blade sharp and rust free, with a light covering of oil
Where a Scout clearly infringes one or the above points, get them to repeat the action in the correct manner and state the reasons for doing so.
During this session there should be time to positively clarify the Association's prohibition on sheath knives and the maximum size of a pocket knife - a 6 cm blade. Make the point that the renowned Swiss Army Knife, and other such as the leatherman style multitool, have a blade length less than 6 cm.

The Saw

The wording of the requirement in the Australian Scoutbook could be construed to suggest that the Scout does not need to know the safety aspects of using a Bush saw. It’s difficult, however, to safely use a saw without being aware of the safety requirements.
The requirement is best undertaken in camp, or, if available, on land surrounding the Scout Hall. Inside the Hall is just too artificial for this very basic camping skill and using the saw to provide fuel for a fire on which a meal will be cooked is so much more satisfying and gives real meaning to the requirement. After gathering the timber to be sawn, fallen dead branches no thicker than your forearm, demonstrate the choice of working area - no overhanging or low lying branches; cleared underfoot and away from footpaths; and a suitable block of timber on which to rest and saw.

Set the Scout to work with the saw, after reminding about:

  • keeping blade away from flesh and clothing
  • using the full length of the blade in smooth strokes, allowing the teeth to do the work without undue pressure
  • not throwing the saw to the ground between sawing logs
  • resting from labour when tired, there is greater danger when tired­ ness lessens your control of the saw
  • continually making sure that no one comes close enough to be dangerous during your sawing
  • keeping the teeth free of dirt and grit and cleaning the teeth of sawdust as you saw.
The requirement can be assessed as completed when a good supply of firewood has been accumulated with no breach of the safety conventions. But avoid letting your Patrol Leaders insist upon a full week of sawing and providing fuel for the fire - before the requirement can be passed, that really is slave labour in camp.

Patrol System

A discussion is just that of the Patrol in session, led by the PL, but alternatives do exist.
As Scout leader you can either:

  • encourage the PL to gather t he Patrol together away from the normal Troop meeting night, ensuring, as far as is possible that the PL has some sort of agenda to be followed - hopefully including "sticky buns" provided by the host family.
  • make time available during a Troop meeting for all Patrols to sit and discuss. Unless you have enough separate meeting areas, this alternative can degenerate into a noisy free­for-all with not too much in the way of positive outcomes.
  • encourage the PL to use time in camp over a meal or just before lights out, when all the Patrol are around.
When linked with the corporate Patrol togetherness feeling engendered by camping, the final alternative is likely to be the most productive.
Whatever alternative suits your situation, make sure the PL has sufficient information to direct the discussion and make sure that the outcomes of the discussions can be accommodated in your future programming. Which makes the timing of the Patrol discussion critical in your overall planning exercise.

© 2007 Ian Moggs, all rights reserved.

Last updated 11th October 2011.

Email me anytime - i2 @ robian .net (without the spaces).