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leslie's guiding traditions

Gadgets are used at camp. The aim is to create a solution to a problem, usually using sticks and string. They can range from the simple such as 'welly sticks' - two sticks placed by the tent door so that the wellington boots can be suspended upside down outside the tent, such that if it rains, the rain pours down the outside of the boots while the inside remains dry, while the tent is free of muddy boots - through to more complex arrangements such as a washing-up stand.

In order to make gadgets, first, you need to learn how to do various types of lashing. The foundation of most gadgets is often a frame with joints at right angles. These are achieved by square lashing. To start a square lashing, attach the string to one of the poles using a clove hitch. Then wrap it over one pole and under the next in turn, drawing it as tightly as you can each time. Once you have been round all the poles 3-4 times, you start on the 'frapping' turns - tightly wrapping the string under the upper pole, using it to draw in the string already added. Then finish it off with another clove hitch.

Another key foundation structure for gadgets is the tripod. To start it, arrange the three poles in a bunch, lying together straight. Fasten the string to one using a Clove hitch, then wrap it tightly round the bunch three times, regularly tightening the string. Then wrap the sting up and down over the top end of one pole, and the bottom end of the next, going three times round the sticks, tightening it as you go, then tie it off with a clove hitch. The sticks should be in a tight bundle, and it should only be by swinging the ends out sideways that you end up moving them into a tripod shape as shown.

Snake Lashing is used for creating surfaces such as table tops, or raft tops. There needs to be two base sticks (which are usually part of the structure) and the lashing is attached to run across between them. To start a snake lashing, take a long length of string and start with the middle of it. Use a lark's head or similar knot to attach the string to the frame stick (A) and lift the two ends of the string over the first stick (B), then cross the ends over under the frame (A). Then take both ends over the next stick (C), and cross under the frame (A), then over the stick (D) , and so on, until all the sticks are attached at that end, then tie off your ends onto the frame. Then repeat with the far ends of the sticks, so that both ends of the rack are securely held on the frame.

Once you have developed the basic skills for making gadgets, they are transferable to solving problems of all sorts . . .