Long before Lord Baden-Powell spoke about the importance of a Scout staff in Scouting for Boys, staves (plural for staff) have been important symbols. Moses carried a staff while leading his people; Robin Hood and Little John had staves; Forst Nations people have used staves as symbols of power; and bishops carry a special staff called a shepherd’s crook to symbolically herd their flocks. Scouts have long known the usefulness of staves in back-country hiking and camping. But a staff is more than just a stick you’ve picked up off the ground.

What is the Purpose of a Scout Staff?

The scout staff has many uses. The most important is safety and balance while hiking with a pack of camping gear. Staves can be purely decorative while others can be strictly functional.

Take staff to camp, hikes, and weekly meetings.

Practical Uses of the Staff

You can use them for walking sticks, playing games, on parade, pioneering, for carrying troop colors, making a stretcher, and loads of other things. Here is a list of just some of the many ways you can use it:

  • Carrying items or containers
  • Practice knots and lashings
  • Finding people or things after avalanches
  • A talking stick (pass around the circle. Only the person with the staff can talk.
  • Tent pole
  • Flag pole
  • Latrine bench (lash between two trees, providing a comfortable “seat”
  • Making a stretcher
  • Ceremonial uses
  • Splint
  • Measuring height and width (see Fieldbook for Canadian Scouting or Scouting for Boys)
  • Reaching assist in waterfront safety
  • Personal protection
  • Recording persona history on the staff
  • Various survival uses
  • Trail resting while standing
  • Can be for a patrol or for personal use

Can your Scouts add to this list?

Additional References