Smoke Signals 2020: Third Edition

The third quarter has been eventful: we have been able to go back to live scouting, with meetings at the hall, as well as hikes and scouting competitions. The return to scouting ‘IRL’ has been met with enthusiasm by our scouts: read up about how it feels to be back at scouts here. Our senior scouts have started on their advancements with some exciting hikes – here and here and here. Hiking is truly an integral part of the 1st Claremont culture – as the scouters themselves confirmed.

And we celebrated the return to live competitions with the Upton Shield competition. Four teams from 1st Claremont were entered and we are delighted that we won – for the first time since 1994! Read all about it here and here – and have a look at the photos! We also celebrated our two Springbok scouts at the annual Springbok Dinner.

Big news is the launch of a Meerkat den – and for Cubs getting back to the Hall!

Sadly, the third quarter saw one of our former scouts ‘Go Home’. We end with some ‘admin’ notes from our Committee; and as always, the troop scouter’s Reflections.

Permanent link to this article: https://1stclaremont.org.za/1stclaremont-scouts/ss2020-e3-scouting-goes-live-again/

A return to the outdoors … and the Hall!

The highlight for the 3rd quarter of 2020 was, without a doubt, our return in person to meetings. While the cubs learned a lot about cultures, food, and crafts to do at home during lockdown, there was not much contest with the ability to walk in nature, light fires, and get messy in the local rivers around Cape Town. From meetings at Keurboom Park, river clean ups and outings, and a walk in De Hel, the cubs went back into nature, and ended the term lighting fires back at the hall.

Permanent link to this article: https://1stclaremont.org.za/cubs/ss2020-e3-a-return-to-the-outdoors-and-the-hall/

Alex’s Discoverer Hike

One of the requirements for my Discoverer was to organise a hike of at least 10km. It was my first time doing this. We started in the Constantia Nek parking lot early on a Sunday morning, and followed the jeep track up Table Mountain. We chose to take the steep stairs at the beginning of the walk: although it was more tiring, we gained a lot of altitude more quickly.

As we were hiking up, we were able to see the amazing views over Cape Town. We passed the Overseers Cottage and passed all five of Table Mountain’s dams. We had lunch in the shade of the trees by the Woodhead Dam, before turning around and heading back down the jeep track, with a slight detour along the path through the fynbos. By the end, we had covered over 12km and climbed almost 500m in about 4½ hours, including our lunch break.

Overall, I think my hike went well. I had a fun time and think that everyone else enjoyed it too. It was also great to be able to see my patrol again and get out and about after lockdown. It also functioned as a really good bonding activity for us. I learnt a lot about organising scouting activities. I look forward to being able to organise more for my patrol and the troop in the future. 

Permanent link to this article: https://1stclaremont.org.za/1stclaremont-scouts/ss2020-e3-alexs-discoverer-hike/

Jack on Upton

I think Upton Shield was one of the standouts of my year. After having such a miserable and boring year due to Covid, I think this event really helped with entertaining the scouts after such a long break from it. This year I was very surprised at how confident my team was going into the competition — we all seemed that we really were determined to win.

At the same time we wanted to enjoy ourselves and have as much fun along the way, and we did this by telling jokes, having conversations and giving nicknames, which included Holly who is now known as the Plant Lady due to the fact that on the second base she seemed to know every plant they showed us except the Bluegum which she was really annoyed about.

Other highlights included when every judge seemed to ask as if we knew Daniel Le Jeune after finding out we were from 1st Claremont. It seems everyone knows Daniel in the scouting world. This was very annoying but it got worse when two judges asked us to give Daniel some sweets but thankfully Daniel was very kind and gave the sweets to us to share when we delivered them to him.

There are way too many funny stories from Upton to tell in just one article so I will end it here. Upton Shield was awesome this year — not just because we won (that’s an added bonus), but because it was such a fun experience that we will remember our whole life and that’s what I personally think scouts is about.

Permanent link to this article: https://1stclaremont.org.za/1stclaremont-scouts/ss2020-e3-jack-on-upton/

Scouters gone wild

The lockdown was very distressing for everyone. For the scouters it came with the added irritation of online scouting which is antithetical to how we see scouts as it should be. So it was not surprising that as soon as hiking was allowed, some of the scouters organised themselves to get out on the mountain.

This initially impromptu hike evolved quickly into an exploration of new routes on Table Mountain with the added dimension of doing the 13 Peaks Challenge. Choosing routes from books or simply sharing some routes that only one of us has done has resulted in some interesting moments including being totally unable to find any trace of a path on Lekkerwater Traverse despite the GPS telling us we were standing on it; some us turning back halfway up Nursery Buttress and then climbing all the way back up via Skeleton Gorge to join the rest of the party at the top; actually finding Hole in the Wall and then being unable to work out which way to go (luckily we met up with a group who did know). Hikes have ranged from a few kms and few hours to 16 kms and most of the day. Scenery has been spectacular and we have learnt a lot of new routes, some of which we look forward to sharing with our scouts.

But the most amazing thing about these hikes has been the opportunity to spend time with other scouters. The scouters spend many hours every month together but that time is always in the context of scouts. For the first time we have spent time as people who met through scouts but who have come together for a different purpose – simply to hike and enjoy not only the mountains but also the company of others – something we were deprived of under lockdown.

Panorama of the mountain.

Permanent link to this article: https://1stclaremont.org.za/1stclaremont-scouts/ss2020-e3-scouters-in-the-wild/

Bianca copes with the unexpected on Upton

This year the Upton Shield competition was held at Hawequas Scout Adventure Centre. 1st Claremont entered four teams all of which did extremely well with one of our teams coming in first place and another in the top ten. The weather conditions on the day were rather misty in the morning which permitted enjoyable hiking although it warmed up in the afternoon when the mist lifted. The hike was about seven kilometres with twenty-six bases along the course of it. The competition was adjusted to fit COVID-19 protocols which made it a new and unfamiliar experience for many. 

Due to a last minute shuffle of the teams on the morning of the competition, we were off to a stressful and unprepared start, however as the day progressed, we found ourselves having a pleasurable time. Unfortunately, we could not complete some of the bases that we would have liked to as we were missing equipment as a result of the reorganisation. I commend our team for their resilience through a bit of a hectic, confusing morning. 

One of our favourite bases was the tree cutting one, where we were required to remove some of the non-indigenous black wattle trees from the area. Our team managed to cut down the tallest tree out of the lot (an achievement we are relatively proud of). 

Overall, I think we worked admirably as a team and it was genuinely a memorable experience!

Permanent link to this article: https://1stclaremont.org.za/1stclaremont-scouts/ss2020-e3-bianca-copes-with-the-unexpected-on-upton/

Oliver hikes with Holly

On the 12th of September Holly, Rozanna, Ryan  and I hiked up Table Mountain via the jeep track to do a 10km hike. This was our first hike  since lockdown, our first patrol hike of the year and  our first hike without scouters, so it was a pretty big day. 

Since it was at least six months since our last hike most of us were fairly unfit and going up the jeep track we had to take many breaks, but when we reached level ground we started getting into the swing of things. We stopped at De Villiers dam to relax, have a snack and refill our water bottles. It was very beautiful as it had a nice view of the dam. After about 10 minutes we headed off again towards the scout hut where we had 20 minutes for a break, did a scouts’ own and ate biscuits and lunch. 

As we started heading back down the mountain I realised that going on a hike was very good for my mental health, and good for my physical health as I got to get out with friends and have a good time.

Permanent link to this article: https://1stclaremont.org.za/1stclaremont-scouts/ss2020-e3-oliver-hikes-with-holly/

Gone Home

Sometimes we have the sad news of the passing of one of our former members. In scouting parlance the person has Gone Home. This is based on the veldcraft sign of a circle with a dot in the middle and such a sign can be found on Baden-Powells gravestone in Kenya. Usually such a person has lived a full life and we can look back on their passing as the eventual end of a good life. But sometimes the saddest news is of a person who has Gone Home before their time.

This is sadly one of those times and we regret to announce that Daniel Taft has Gone Home. Daniel was a scout with 1st Claremont from 2014 until 2016 until he left us to go to boarding school in Durban. He was in Grade 11 when he passed on and he is remembered by all the scouters currently at the troop. We are deeply shocked by the news of Daniel’s tragic passing.

Daniel was a scout with impulsive energy. He was always in motion and he was always willing to try something new. He came on the 3 night expedition to Boosmansbos and on the way up on the first day he told me he wanted to turn around. After it was explained to him that there was no way to turn around, he put his mind to the task, never thereafter struggled on the hike (including through the epic 13 hours in a sleeping bag night!) and never complained. The last morning was a freezing cold descent just ahead of rain and the picture below was the breakfast stop. Daniel was still cheery after an early start and ice cold wind.

To his mother and father and his twin brother, Aidan, our deepest sympathies

Daniel Taft – Gone Home too soon – 2020

Permanent link to this article: https://1stclaremont.org.za/1stclaremont-scouts/ss2020-e3-gone-home/