Ranger Regatta – Whatever floats your [corrugated] cardboard boat

The Challenge

Design and build a boat made of [corrugated] Cardboard and navigate a short course.

Regatta course will start at the dock; travel along the shore; around a buoy and back. The crew must paddle the boat (paddle materials will be provided) propelling the boat through the water by any other means is prohibited; e.g., NO paddlewheels; NO pole; NO sail; etc.

NO footprints left behind; everything must be removed from the lake.

[corrugated paperboard may be referred to as ‘cardboard’ in this document].


Yacht Division: Pre-made Outpost boats.  This is for boats made ahead of camp, designed for four or more boys according to the rules below.

Dingy Division: 2 man Boats made at camp with cardboard and as much duct tape as you want, bring your own supplies, no paint please. Boys will build boats on the lawn at camp to be completed by Friday night for entry in the 2 man division.  

Construction Rules:

  1. Each Ranger may be on (1) boat team only. (Team= crew [paddlers] & support persons). Rangers may NOT touch or physically assist the boats of other teams. NO limit to the number of boats for each Outpost.
  2. Adults may NOT hold; move; tape; cut; paint or otherwise touch (with or w/o gloves) any materials during the construction of the boat. Adults may obtain the boat materials; e.g, paint, but may not apply the paint to the boat.
    Adults may demonstrate/show techniques on material(s) that is NOT used on the boat; e.g., adult may show how to paint or taping technique on a scrap piece of material…

Boat Specifications:

  1. The entire boat must be built of corrugated cardboard only. [flooring shipping tubes are allowed] but NO pre-treated cardboard allowed.  NO Sonatubes®. NO waxed or ‘treated’ cardboard.
  2. Tape and glue may be used to construct the boat. Glue cardboard together and use tape to secure the seams/seal the cardboard edges. Duct tape may be used on seams and ‘corners’ only; cannot wrap the entire boat with duct tape.
    NO caulking compounds or two-part/mixed adhesives. [construction adhesive is allowed].
    NO wrapping boat in any material; e.g., tape, plastic, or fiberglass.
    NO restrictions on the amount of material(s) used/needed.
  3. The boat may be coated with latex paint.  NO two-part substances; oil-based coatings; etc.
  4. You may only use the ‘Permissible’ materials only.  You may NOT use any other materials to contribute to the structural rigidity; buoyancy; or water-proofing of the boat.
  5. Boat must have sides so that the crew sits in the boat throughout the race.
  6. The crew compartment CANNOT be fully enclosed.  NO covered crew areas. The area where the paddlers sit must be open; so as to NOT interfere with escape. 
  7. Decorations are permissible if they do not affect the structural strength or buoyancy of the boat.  NOR used to propel the boat.  For example, a flag may be attached to the boat.
Your boat will be disqualified if:   Upon inspection, any Construction Rules or Specifications are determined to be in violation.


  • Corrugated cardboard Standard cardboard boxes may be found at grocery or appliance stores.
  • Cardboard ‘blocks’/corners can be found at furniture stores Cardboard shipping tubes can be found at flooring stores
  • Fastening materials duct tape, wood glue or Construction Adhesive    [Liquid Nails®; Loctite® PL; etc.], latex paint.


  • Treated or coated, pasteboard, or chipboard cardboard styrofoam or foam core board.
  • Styrofoam or foam core boards
  • Plastic, plastic wrap, or tarps
  • Wood, staples, nails or screws
  • Metal, metal foil, or metal paint
  • Fiberglass or any resins of any sort
  • Silicon, epoxies, or caulking compounds
  • ‘Insulating’ foam
  • Wax or tar
  • Two-part coatings; two-part paints; two-part adhesives.
  • Oil-based coatings.

Design tips:

  • Use paper towel tubes and ‘soda can’ cardboard boxes to make a model of the boat design. A scale model will show the stability, and bow design to efficiently move through the water.
  • Design the nose (bow) of the boat so that the water does not come over the front. Position the crew towards the back of the boat.
  • Determine the size of the boat by having each boat crew member ‘sit’/kneel in position for paddling.

Construction tips:

  • Sitting/standing on corrugated cardboard on a hard surface will damage the structural integrity.
  • Note the direction of the corrugated layer for maximum strength for folded parts.
  • For multiple layers, consider gluing each layer perpendicular to the previous layer. (‘plywood’).
  • Use a straight-edge and a smooth object to crease (NOT cut) the cardboard before folding.
  • Overlap the seams.
  • Cover all open edges of cardboard.  Any uncovered edge acts like a siphon (fills with water).
  • Cardboard tubes make great frames/support members (can make rectangular ‘tubes’ by folding cardboard into a rectangle).
  • We suggest intermediate support structures (‘bulkheads’).
  • Use at least 2-layers of cardboard to reinforce the hull.
  • Reinforce the area where the crew sits, kneels, or stands.
  • Use wood glue or liquid nails.  [hot-melt glue may not hold in hot, sunny weather].
  • Use duct tape to seal non-painted seams.  Duct tape shrinks when painted. Duct tape can be covered with masking (paint) tape and then painted.
  • Water-proof your vessel by painting the boat with (1-part) latex paint.