Further Uses of the Scout Staff

I had a reader enquiry from James about the rings on the scout staff, as seen on the Ernest Ibbetson comic postcard ‘The Ambush’ and others.

What function did these rings have?

How did they work with patrol flags?

The answer is using the staff as a measuring tool, in inches on one side and centimetres on the other. The rest is in metres, according to the first Boy Scouts Of America handbook c. 1911, so presumably in inches and feet in Imperial measures elsewhere.

The suggested height is 2 metres tall (or the 1943 uniform above, shoulder height).

* Boy Scouts Of America Handbook C. 1911

* The staff is very useful for beating out bush fires and outbreaks which occur on open heath.

Further Uses of the Staff

Measuring Distances

Jumping Ditches

Climbing a Mountain

Self Defence

Making Rafts

Making Splints

Bridge Building

Levering up logs and stones

Rope Ladders

Feeling the way over Marshy Ground

Recovering Objects Floating in the Water


Other uses illustrated are:

Both patrol tents and tepees can be made with the aid of a staff (or five or six)

A line of Scouts linked together on a night march

Wading a stream – two or three Scouts grasp the staff

To stop a mad dog, hold the staff crosswise in front of you

Scaling a wall using a staff as a push up (unless you own a bicycle)

Boy Scouts E.E. Reynolds 1940s

As a (Camp) seat

(Three) As a tripod for cooking

For erecting a flagstaff and forming a fence

When climbing gates you can give yourself a push up

When anyone falls through some ice

As improvised stretchers made of coats and staves

A three cyclist version as a cycle ambulance is pictured on cigarette cards


Add to this from the Scouting cigarette cards these further uses of the staff:

Three staffs make a tripod for a surveying compass

Quarter staff drill

Camp table

Improvised tripod for camp cooking

Unknown image source: Girl Guides doing staff drill, fitness exercises or staff signalling practice?

Signalling with staff

Improvised signal flag


This rings or measuring appears on the Tintin type Scout by Herge as a decorative feature.

Some suggestions were made that the base of the staff had a design cut into it for tracking work.

Camp Fire Girls also appear to have used them or poles for a spot of canoe jousting?

Gaming Scenarios

Quarter Staff Drill for Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Girl Guides, Church Lads and even Camp Fire Girls using the ‘Parry and Lunge’ Rules:


Unknown image source: quarter staff drill


Boys life magazine – Boy Scouts Of America 1912

Sadly the scout staff had gone by the time I arrived in cubs in the 1970s. Nobby and other slightly older readers remember quarter staff drill well as a way of sneakily skinning your opponent’s knuckles.

Blog posted by Mark Man Of TIN, 1970s British Cub Scout (Bronze Arrow, retired) on 24 July 2022