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Survival Bracelets and Buddy Burners

Live-blogging from the council meeting here, we just had a workshop about how to use a Cobra Knot to weave paracord into a Survival Bracelet, and how to make a Buddy Burner.

Survival Bracelet

Paracord 550 is pretty cheap in bulk, and comes in tons of colors. I ordered my 300′ spools in Yellow and Royal Blue (Cadet colors) from I first learned the method from Backpacker Magazine, if you google “paracord survival bracelet” you can find many other tutorials and videos. Some more helpful tips I learned when we did this craft in club 1561:

  • It is helpful (esp. for younger boys) to work in pairs; one holds the core straight while the other practices his cobra wrap. One boy can do 4-6 turns, then switch places.
  • Also helpful for younger boys, name the various parts of the operation like a little “man”. The loop is the “head,” the core strands opposite the head are the “legs,” and the two strands of cord that are being wrapped are the left and right “arms.”
  • It is helpful of course to pre-cut and burn the ends of all the pieces of rope your club will need, so you can just hand them out and teach the knot, rather than having 20+ boys running around with knives and fire.
  • As can be seen in all of the online tutorials I’ve seen, the ropes form an “S” in one direction, and a backwards “S” the next time. I describe that to the boys as “S and Z”. But if you get used to that and think about it, you will realize that the bottom nodes of the S or Z are irrelevant to the knot, so you can actually do it easier as “C and D”.
  • When the wrap is long enough to go around the cadet’s wrist, tie off the wrap-cords in a two-cord overhand for a stopper-knot (slide the wrap up or down the core to ensure the loop is the right size for the knot if necessary). Tie off the core strands, cut close and burn.
    • Or find your own creative way to fasten the bracelet! (Try
  • If you get one color of paracord, then obviously you get one color bracelet. If you have two colors, you can choose different colors for the core and the wrap, but still you mostly just see the wrap and it ends up basically one color, BUT, you can also create really cool bicolor bracelets.
    • For the wrap, instead of a long cord of a single color, take two half-length cords of opposite colors, burn the ends, and hold the melted, liquid ends together. When they cool in a few seconds they will be fused (if you do it right — it takes practice, and a good number of finger burns!)
    • Start the cobra weave with the join point in the middle, right under the core (head/legs).
    • When you weave this way, it has the very helpful byproduct that one color is always forming the curves (“bights” I guess?), and the other color is always being passed through. This is very helpful for not losing your place on which side the next knot starts on.
    • The downside of this bicolor is that the melt is not a strong joint, so if you actually do need to unravel the bracelet for emergency rope, you really have two half-length cord, not one long one.

Buddy Burners

Very simple, and very cool. A large tuna can packed with rolled cardboard strips, and then filled with melted candlewax. You end up with a metal-cased safety candle, with cardboard wick across the entire surface, instead of just one string in the center. You can boil water or make pretty good light with it. Everything I know about Buddy Burners I learned from YouTube.

For a fundraiser, you could collect tin cans from cadet families, grab unlimited free cardboard from anywhere, and use the church bulletin to solicit old candles from the congregation. Have a good time making Buddy Burners with cadets, and then sell them as “Earthquake/Emergency Safety Candles,” maybe $5 each?

Agenda for 8/30 and Note from the President

(Click here to view the agenda for Thursday night’s council meeting) Dear Counselors, We are at the starting line again of another season of Cadets! I hope you are all looking forward to the new year and working with the clubs. I know I am feeling a bit rejuevinated and hopeful that I will be able… Continue Reading