Simple Dowel Kites at a Cub Scout Camp

by Andrew Roos
(Durban, South Africa)

A Cub flying his Simple Diamond

A Cub flying his Simple Diamond

My son is a cub scout and we were invited to attend a "family camp". Parents were asked to arrange activities for the cubs that would contribute towards one of their interest badges.

As an ex-pilot and RC model flyer, I decided to present a workshop for the "flying models" badge. One of the requirements for this badge is for the cubs to build and fly a kite. After looking at several kite sites on the Internet, I downloaded Tim's "Simplest Dowel Kites" eBook and decided on the Simple Diamond and Simple Sled kites as they would be the quickest to build.

I purchased dowel rods, two-ply plastic bags (black was the only color available locally) and insulation tape to make 10 kites. I also bought some red lacing cord for bridles, some 50mm red and white striped plastic barrier tape (the type construction crews use to fence off unsafe areas) to give a colour contrast for the kite tails, and flying line. The total cost of materials was about US$30, so around $3 per kite.

I cut out cardboard templates for these kites, scaled to match the size of locally available dowel rods, so the cubs could cut from the template without having to measure the sail dimensions. Each template was for half the sail, so they could place the template against the fold in the plastic bag, cut through both layers of plastic, and then open them out into the full sail shape.

My wife and I worked on a long table - she supervised the cubs cutting the sails and tails at one side, while I supervised sparring and fitting the tails and bridles at the other. This way we could make a kite every 10-15 minutes. We showed the cubs what to do - for example how to stick one side of a spar - and then supervised them while they did the rest themselves.

The wind was light to moderate and quite gusty, even changing direction completely from time to time. But the Simple Diamonds took it in their stride and flew beautifully. They were more stable under these conditions than the sleds although they generally flew a bit lower. One of the other parents remarked that she had never seen a home made kite that flew at all, let alone one that flew so well!

The cubs had a great time flying their kites, and had to be dragged away by their Akela to participate in other workshops. They will be rewarded with their Flying Models interest badges.

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