Planning your project
Try to make projects that can hold the participants interest for the duration of the project build. Too often leaders have ended up completing the project rather than the young people. Just because the project looks great does not mean it’s a good activity idea.
Consider how your project is appropriate for the age of the young people involved.
Plan well, assess the risks involved and think about how those will influence your ‘operating plan’ for using it once completed, including how you take it apart after.
Consider the impact to the natural environment especially when using trees for anchors or parts of obstacle courses, throwing a rope over a branch may be a simple solution but leaving it up because you cannot untie the knot leaves a strangulation hazard and will eventually cause the branch to become damaged.
Locating your Project
Having planned out what you want to build, consider how much space you will need to build it and use it safely and easily. It will probably want flat, stable ground. If it is a tall structure think about overhead hazards such as trees or cables. Just because the project looks great does not mean it’s a good activity idea.
During the project
Think about supervision of the project and how it is going to be secured when not in use if left unattended.
Also consider light conditions at night and people walking or running into ropes and spars.
The ropes will stretch overnight and then be slack in the morning so need to be checked if left overnight.
Check that the poles you are using are in good condition, free of damage and rot? Gloves are often useful when working with large poles.
Is the equipment suitable for the age group you are working with or should you plan a ‘mini-pioneering’ project for younger age sections?
Remember that your structure will have a limited strength so don’t overload it once made.
A photo of the whole Group across it may seem a fun memory to make, but the structure may not cope with the load if it is designed for only four people at a time and you add 25.
Take extra care near water and consider whether extra precaution and supervision need to be in place.
After your project
Tidying up and clearing away consider how you are going to dismantle your project once it is built. Carefully plan to avoid parts falling or the structure collapsing whilst dismantling. Make sure there are enough people available to keep this safe. Many hands DO make light work.
Fill in any holes and clear away any debris.