Smoke Signals 2024 : Issue 1

Thanks once more to all our article contributors for making this issue possible. Special thanks to Ian Webb for documenting the history of our group through its various flags over the last year – our flag series now draws to a close.

If there are any suggestions for material that you’d like to see covered in Smoke Signals in future please let us know!

This issue is available to read as articles here, or via PDF. Limited printed copies will be distributed at each branch’s meeting – but you’ll miss the glorious colour.

In this issue:

Yours in Scouting – Ed.

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Group Leader’s Report

In February many of our Meerkats, Cubs and Scouts wore their uniforms to school for a day to show their pride in being part of Scouting. Officially it is called “Founder’s Day” as it is celebrated on Baden-Powell’s birthday of 22 February, but I prefer the name “Scout Day” in celebration of the movement and our members rather than the individual founder.

Thank you to all those who have paid their fees for 2024, and to those who have added a voluntary donation to the maintenance fund!

February also includes the Western Cape Awards Ceremony where we honour our Gold Star Meerkats, Leaping Wolf Cubs and Springbok Scouts. 1st Claremont received Gold Star Awards for the Den, Pack and Troop and several patrol awards, and our group was placed 4th in the Tonkin Trophy for the best groups in the Western Cape. Well done to our members, leaders and families for this great result.

February also featured our AGM, where our leaders and committee report on the past year and the plans for the year ahead, followed by a social event outside. The social side, on a Saturday afternoon, included a family braai, a fundraising tuckshop, and a foofey slide built by the Scouts. This year was a fun event but unfortunately not very well attended by parents, so please let us know if you have ideas on how to tailor the event to encourage families to attend.

We’re delighted to have Karen Hewson joining us in the fundraising portfolio for the group. Karen brings great enthusiasm and creative ideas and I am very happy to have her as part of the team! On that note, well done to Daniel and team for hosting a very successful fundraising Pub Quiz earlier this term.

Finally, an update on the City’s proposal to take away a large part of our grounds to build a Vodacom mast. Our councillor Mikhail Manuel sent this update when I asked:

Please see the response I provided to previous residents who have reached out for an update. These are my estimates based on previous experience.

The decision on whether to lease the land will likely only be made around Aug/Sep 2024. After that, there will be a further 12-18 month period for the planning applications, if the lease application is successful. So at a minimum, no construction will happen until late 2025.

1st Claremont will carry on monitoring this and will raise our objections at the planning stage and any other opportunity.

– Ian Webb

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Cub Camp!

This article was co-written by and Hathi

Cub camp is without a doubt the highlight of the first term every year. We were once again joined by our friends from up the hill. The camp started on Saturday, however,

That first evening

The next day was Saturday and the camp officially started.  The theme this time was “Around the World in 80 Days”.

The sixes were made up of a mix of 1st and 4th Claremont cubs and were named after the national birds of the four countries we journeyed on.

On the camp cubs had their own passports. They got their first stamp on their exit from South Africa when they travelled to India.

In order to get to India, the Cubs had to build gliders

Flying was hard work so once they arrived in India, the cubs were happy to be greeted by their lovely host, Anjali (a scout from 1st Claremont), who served up some delicious marsala chai and muffins. Once duly refreshed the cubs played the traditional Indian game of gilli danda.

As they temperature rose in the late morning it was a great relief to play another game inspired by the Hindu festival, Holi, which is traditionally celebrated as the Festival of Colours, Love, and Spring. The twist for the camps was that instead of throwing powdered dyes at each other the cubs through colourful water. Fun and refreshing!

This was lucky, because with all these activities the cubs were ready for lunch. These gourmet chefs served but delicious chicken biryani an veg biryani. This flavour explosion was especially appreciated by Sarah Johansen who may never eat food without spice ever again.

Not only that, but granny Anila also produced extraordinary cakes to celebrate the

After lunch it was time to leave India and to fly to the next destination, China.

And to fly they safely too! This allowed the cubs to finish off their flying models interest badges.

This engineering in the afternoon sun was followed by another water game. This time it was the traditional camp game of Slip n’ Slide. Micaela Hall distinguished herself with her acrobatics as immortalized in this work of art to the right and doubtlessly contributing the afternoon of joy and laughter.

As the day ended a dinner of Chinese stir-fried noodles was served. Then the cubs left China and reached their final destination for the day: Mexico. The day then faded and the night creeped in. Cubs knew exactly what was coming now – CAMPFIRE!!!!

Popcorn and hot chocolate comforted the cubs as bedtime came. With exit stamps done it was lights out and the cubs took the redeye to their next destination.

Nighttime is always tricky for some of the cubs, many of whom are experiencing their first night away from home.

only did she tend to the cuts and bruises she also brought along a very special
helper. Luna, the squishy mallow was so soft and cuddly and helped many cubs when
they had a hard time and were feeling a bit down. Nothing like being able to
have a chat to a kind person and hug something soft to get you past the tough

As the sun rose in England on our final day of camp there was no rest for the weary. The scout helpers, and a surprisingly spritely assistant pack leader, quicky got the cubs moving.

After a solid English breakfast cubs had a scavenger hunt where they completed their first aid kits. Learning all about what essentials we need to when we travel. They then visited Greenwich where they played N.S.E.W. and learned to use compasses.

Next it was time for the eternal debate of which is the best British sport: Cricket or soccer. So, the cubs played both.

The verdict reached in that debate was…. drum roll please: Rugby.  So we of course had to return to the place where the Rugby champions and all round lekker folk live: South Africa.

Here their lunch (boerewors naturally) and reflected about their time at camp. They did this by writing some wonderful little poems which were shared during cubs own.

During this time cubs were celebrated and given certificates for their distinguishing contributions to the camp.

The cubs then said their goodbyes as the camp came to a close. In the end the poem by Louisa’s Maughan-Brown in the end said it all:

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James’ Springbok Hike

On Friday the 15th of March Malika, Tristan, James and I went to Groot Winterhoek for James’ springbok hike. The first day of the hike we were hiking up a valley to Groot Kliphuis. There were lots of prickly and spiky bushes and branches that scratched everyone’s legs. We arrived at the beginning of the hike a bit later than expected and because of this we hiked into the dark which was fun but we were all very tired. We were over the moon when we saw a sign pointing us to the oak tree where we were going to sleep. We had wraps for supper with hot chocolate and went to bed. 

The next day we set off and hiked at a very good speed arrived at a hut 1km from where we were spending the night and decided to eat lunch there in the shade as it was quite hot. At around 2pm we decided to go to Die Hel which is a really beautiful natural pool with a stunning waterfall that we swam at. Getting down to Die Hel was tough but it was worth it. When we arrived at the ‘campsite’ we were staying the night at. We started making supper which was pasta. It was delicious and we had all been looking forward to it the whole day. 

In the morning we packed our bags, ate breakfast and off we went.  That day we hiked mostly up the valley and over the mountains. At one point we had to take our shoes off to walk through a shallow river that was going over the path. There was a really nice, big rockpool that we stopped at to have a quick swim. After wee swam we dried off and continued hiking. Around 1pm we got to the end of the hike and we were all exhausted and hot as it was the hottest day of the hike. All in all it was a really great, scenic hike and we had lots of fun. 

– Juliet D’Arcy-Evans

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Hike Club

On the 21st of January, a brave few adventurous scouts, friends and parents of 1st Claremont set out on a quest of getting to Klassenkop without anyone dying. On the extremely dangerous journey up, the adventurers were met with many a challenge (e.g. Daniel’s choice of route and Daniel himself). Luckily everyone got up fine, even with Caleb being part of the group.

The brave group had wanted to see the beautiful wildlife but Daniel and Caleb’s raucous laughter scared away every living organism for 1,5km. They even had some insane scouts trying to climb sheer rock faces just for fun.

After some hours of the tough hiking, the party arrived at their destination — Klassenkop. Here they had an incredible time discovering new obstacles and overcoming challenges and just generally exploring the area and the incredible view.

After the group had conquered Klassenkop, they headed down the other side to De Villiers Dam which is where the tragedy happened…

The group had to split up for completely unknown reasons (half wanted to swim). So, leaving each other, the 2 halves went their separate ways, both never seeing each other again…
….Until the next meeting.

Thank you all who went on the hike it was really fun.

– Peter Raynham

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Kon-Tiki Pre-Build

We all awoke to the birds shining and the sun tweeting. We could tell that it was going to be a tiring day. But nothing could prepare us for the horrors of the day!  We started out by laying out the beams of the building as the mastermind of the plan sat behind his desk contemplating which ropes he should use and the correct staves to choose. We began the tedious job of tying all the lashings. This was a boring job that had to have surprisingly good amounts of attention to do. We worked for ages until I decided to take a break.

I had the most amazing idea to make some hot chocolate for myself and very thoughtfully for two of my friends. Little did one of them know that they would get the fright of their life. I had laced the hot chocolate with peppermint essence, but Emily added the herbs. It was a terrible idea but it had amazing outcomes. Bridget gratefully took the drink and smelt it wondering what could be off. To her it smelt like a peppermint chocolate drink. As she took a sip her face changed from a smile to a look of disgust. The horror of what we had done left both Emily and myself in fits of laughter. After this rather unfortunate event the rest of the build went smoothly and there were very few interruptions. The raft was spectacular when it was fully constructed, sadly we had to promptly deconstruct it after we had finished as there was limited time.

–Tristan Staak

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Hike to Vlakkenberg

The day started off early as we started our journey up to Vlakkenberg Peak. The day was quite warm and the sun was beating down relentlessly. Many water breaks were needed. Along the way we encountered beautiful views surrounded by the mountains. There were not many trees around so we treasured any small bits of shade that we found. After reaching the peak we sat down for lunch. Upon finding a rusty pole that was on the top, Peter proceeded to wack around the ‘free tetanus’ and almost concussed Joel in the process.

We then hiked a bit further up and found a better rest spot where the scouters talked about complicated university stuff that I didn’t understand to which I just smiled and nodded. There were some cool little rock formations that we could climb around where Peter found some more ‘free tetanus’. We then began our descent and reached the bottom ready to go home.

– Malaika Kazadi

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Meerkats Observer Badge

Our Den Scouters have been thinking hard about the Meerkat Observer Challenge badge. The requirements are simple – perform three activities scoring 5/8 with three different senses, and play a memory game. We started off with gusto, pointing out eight sights during our outing to Kirstenbosch. Then I tested each Meerkat and they could remember at least five.

For sound, we thought a broken telephone relay in Burrows (3-5 Meerkats) would work. Well, it didn’t. Even simple instructions or statements like “fish and chips” did not get through. We ticked them off for effort and moved on.

Touch was exploring a bag and then telling what they found in it. They managed that. And the memory game was the usual turn cards over till a pair is found, but with a nice Meerkat twist. My thought as a leader, though, is: are we enabling the Meerkats to actually “learn through play”? We would like Meerkats to distinguish themselves from others by being spontaneous observers. They should be able to say “Rafiki, you left you car lights on!” “Oh, Yendi has left her jacket.” and most of all to remember a phone number or an address when given to them in an emergency. Next time we do the badge we might inject some more realism into the activities and check the outcomes.

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