Why is it important to learn to tie knots? There are a few people in each generation that just get a kick out of seeing how many of the approximately 4,000 different knots they can learn to tie. For most people knots keep your shoes from falling off, tie up bundles of limbs and twigs for trash pickup, fly a kite or tie a fly on a fishing line and all those other things that involve string, cord, line or rope.
Each of the 4,000 or so knots has an application for which it is best but we really don't expect Cub Leaders to teach all 4,000 knots to the Cubs. The Boy Scouts have selected five knots that will fill most of the Cub's needs. These knots are Square Knot, Sheet Bend, Bowline, Two Half Hitches and Slipknot. Instructions for tying these knots are in the Bear Cub Scout book, The Scouting Book of Knots and the Boy Scout handbook as well as numerous non Boy Scout publications. The uses of these basic knots are:
Square Knot - tie two ropes of the same size and material together.
Sheet Bend - tie two ropes of different sizes and/or materials together.
Bowline - tie a fixed non slipping loop in a rope.
Two Half Hitches - all purpose hitch for attaching rope to an uneven shape.
Slip Knot - can be used in place of two half hitches where it can be slipped over the end of an object to which it is to be attached.
Try to teach Cub Scout's basic knots over an extended period. Do not try to teach them more than two knots in any given session.
Most boys will start to get confused after the second knot.
Repetition is the key to teaching knots. Once you have introduced them, keep including the skills in various games and other activities. Using rope of two different colors helps some boys see more clearly how knots are correctly tied and lessens confusion. Boys will need your individual attention in learning and demonstrating these knots, so try to get some help in watching them tie them. Your Den Chief would be good at this.
You might ask him to bring a fellow Boy Scout along who has earned the Pioneering merit badge to help out when you are teaching the boys knots.
The ends or a rope should be whipped or taped to hold the fibers in place. Instructions for this are in the Bear book. The rope should be stored dry. A natural fiber rope will rot if put away wet and manufactured fiber will mildew. The rope should be clean. Dirt in the rope will damage the fibers and weaken the rope. Remove all knots and kinks. Knots or kinks in a rope for a long period of time will damage the fibers and weaken the rope.
Coil the rope as described in the Bear book.
Games And Projects
As a den project, you could have each boy make a small knotboard. Cut a board from plywood about 18 inches square. Staple knots to the board. Use dowel rods for hitches over bars.
As the boy completes and passes each knot requirement, have him tie the knot on the board. When he is finished, you can have him hang his board where you meet as a den or he can take it home. The knot board will serve as a token of accomplishment as well as a reminder to the boy of how these knots are tied.
Friendship Circle Closing
Each den member is given a three-foot length of rope which he ties to his neighbor's with a square knot so that a circle is made. Boys pull back on the line with their left hands and make the Cub Scout sign with their right. Den leader says, "This circle shows the bond of friendship we have in Cub Scouting. Now please join me in the Cub Scout Promise."
Save My Child
Divide the den into two teams. One boy on each team is the child. He sits down on several sheets of newspaper about 15 feet from his teammates. Each of the others has a three-foot length of rope. On signal, the first boy on each team ties a bowline with a small loop in his rope and hands the other end to the next boy. He ties on his rope with a square knot. In turn, all others attach their ropes with square knots. When all knots are tied, the team leader casts the rope to the child, who grasps it by the bowline loop. Then the child holds the newspapers with his free hand and is pulled in by his team. First team finished wins, provided that all knots are correct.
Knot Step Contest
Line up Cubs at one end of the room. Each is given a 6 foot length of rope. Call out the name of a knot. Each Cub ties the knot. Judges quickly check the knots. Each Cub who tied the knot correctly can take one step forward. The process is repeated until the first Cub (winner) reaches a predetermined mark.