1. Bear Bagging
Each team gets a 50-foot section of nylon rope, a stuffsack containing 15 pounds of food–and no instructions. Ready, set, go. Team BACKPACKER dashes for a spindly pine. While Jeff knots one end of the rope to the sack, David ties off the other end to a chunk of wood. He sails the rope over a high branch. Louis and Jeff hold the sack aloft while David hoists it, then ties off the rope. Done in 2 minutes, 15 seconds.
Troop 43 has a rough start. Adam attempts to swing the heavy sack up and over a branch of a shrubby tree. Todd and Michael steal glances at the adults’ progress and pepper Adam with advice. "I told you we should have tossed a stick instead," complains Michael, after the sack lodges in a tangle of lower branches. Two more attempts yield similarly dismal results. Six minutes later, the Scouts give up.
Team BACKPACKER takes it in a runaway. Readers: 1, Scouts: 0
By the Book
Bear bags should hang "at least 12 feet off the ground … and eight or more feet away from the trunks of trees," says The Boy Scout Handbook. The accompanying illustration depicts stringing a bear bag between two trees, but offers no explanation on exactly how to do it. Try this: 1) Select a pair of branches 20 feet apart and at least 15 feet off the ground. 2) Tie one end of a rope to a tree trunk. 3) Throw the other end, weighted, over both branches in succession. 4) Tie a knotted loop (bight) in the cord midway between the branches. 5) Attach the bag to the loop with a knot or carabiner. 6) Pull on the unsecured end of the cord to lift the bag to the correct height and tie it off.