It has been proven that summer events help retain membership in the organization. One type of summer event is to take a hike. There are many interesting hiking trails in local parks in our area, such as Jackson Trail in Blackwater State Park outside of Milton.
A hiking stick will make the going easier when taking a hike, even if it is on a paved path. A stick provides a third point of balance, like the third leg on a stool. It gives a hiker something to hold onto when going up or down a hill. It also provides a means of pushing thorny vines out of the way, or turning over a rock without running into a brown recluse spider.
Making a stick can be a way to teach woodworking, whittling and pioneering skills. This is a good time to look for wood for this project. People often prune trees and put branches on the street for bulky pick up. Forest rangers will clear a trail in the spring to get it ready for summer visitors. But never cut down a tree in a forest without permission.
A hiking stick should be about the same length as from the floor to the hiker’s ear. This length will give them enough reach when going down a hill. Measure and cut the stick to this length.
Use a whittling knife or pull blade to remove the bark from the stick. If the bark is green and thin, a potato peeler will work well, too. Trim off branches. Whittle the ends of the stick to make them slightly rounded.
Some hikers prefer to put a rubber chair leg bumper on the bottom of the stick. The rubber helps provide a better grip when pressed against wet rocks. It also helps keep the end of the stick from splitting.
A hiking stick can be personalized in a number of ways to make a pole that is distinctly yours. If the stick is the same width as a shovel handle, many parks sell metal badges that can be nailed to the stick. The badges create a history of the hiker and all the trails that have been accomplished.
Another personalization is to whittle a character onto the top end of the pole. The figure is like an icon that represents the hiker. People who don’t whittle well sometimes use a plastic toy figure, and attach it to the pole with a double pointed screw.
Another personalization is to add beads to the pole. The beads can represent the people in the group or troop, or they can stand for the words in the motto or law. Drill a hole near one end of the stick, below the point where the stick is held. Insert a piece of lace. Use a fine tip Sharpie or permanent marker to write the points of the law, one point on each bead. String the beads onto the lace and make a large knot in the end.