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五层旗杆: Achieving Success on the First Attempt

By Tan Jen Kai

Raising the 五层旗杆 is one of the several yearly traditions that Catholic High Scout Group celebrates in commemoration of our troop birthday. It is also the biggest challenge that the scout troop faces during this occasion. Building and erecting this monumental flagpole requires the ability to plan strategically, coordinate and stay calm at times of adversities and tunnel vision focus to succeed on the first try.

When building the 五层旗杆 flagpole, we adopted different measures to prevent as much flexing of the flagpole as possible. A slight bend could cause the wooden pole to succumb to the sheer weight of the entire flagpole and split the pole into half. We chose five wooden poles as the main frame for the flagpole. These poles were specially chosen based on the weight, number of hairline cracks and straightness. The configuration for the 五层旗杆 was Yellow, Yellow, Blue, Blue, Blue, with yellow being the thickest and heaviest pole and blue being the thinnest and lightest pole. After tying 12 sheer lashes on the 4 intersections of the main frame, we added one yellow base on the first level and one white base on the second level of the flagpole, with the intention of strengthening the flagpole and lowering the centre of gravity to increase stability of the structure. Next was the 6 guylines on the flagpole. The guylines play a pivotal role in the raising process as they guide the flagpole to a vertical position and control the flexing of the flagpole. To determine the placement of the two sets of guylines, the scouts lifted the flagpole at an angle, with the base still in contact with the ground, to deduce the turning point of the flagpole. The turning point allowed us to find out the weaker points of the flagpole and attach guylines which will reinforce the strength of the flagpole and reduce flexing when being raised. After the attaching of guylines and pulley, it was time to raise the 五层旗杆 for the first and last time.

Upon securing the base of the flagpole to the inting, two equilateral triangles were marked out with intings at each corner, to mark out the end point of the guylines. It was important to ensure that the guylines were 60 degrees apart from each other so that the tension in the guylines would be shared equally. Slowly but surely, the scouts raised the flagpole with their feet on the ground, then on a table, until the A-frames came into action. By using the previous method of finding weak points along the flagpoles, several scouts utilised the A-frames to support and push the flagpole higher. While raising the flagpole, everyone was focused on the task at hand and coordinated with each other to ensure that this would be a success. After many attempts to raise the flagpole metre by metre, one last push was given as the guylines tensioned to stabilise the flagpole. We had accomplished the 五层旗杆 on our first try.

“Success on the first attempt.” This is a core principle that is deeply rooted in Catholic High Scout Group. Whether it is in scouts or in our daily lives, scouts are encouraged to strive for perfection and achieve the greatest results on the first try. Having this goal in mind motivates the scouts to push themselves beyond physical and mental limits and contribute as much as possible, as failure will lead to wasted time and effort and bring down a team’s morale. This principle will also guide the troop in preventing scouts from falling into the trap of cutting corners or taking shortcuts just to “get things done”. With a strong driving force to succeed, the scouts will have the capability to transform complex set of ideas and intangible dreams into a reality of end results. This is why we strive for success on the first attempt. This is why we can achieve results surpassing those of average people.

As the flag was raised by Jann Lim, Senior Patrol Leader of 2018, the next morning, everyone was beaming with pride while watching the flag reach the peak of the五层旗杆and wave in the gentle and refreshing breeze. Once again, we had put the troop at the top. This process of building and erecting the flagpole displayed the strength of our scout group and served as a reminder to all scouts of what we are capable of if we hold dearly to the principle of succeeding on the first attempt. This process has also paved the way for future successes and Catholic High Scout Group can only go onwards from where we are today. 日行一善,深谋远虑,智仁勇!

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