Smoke Signals Edition 3, 2022

As 1st Claremont has grown and become more and more active, it’s getting harder to pick highlights to summarise a term, let alone a year! But let’s have a go.

The Scout Troop has continued an active and successful programme as Daniel le Jeune completes his first year as Troop Scouter. The fourth term included several patrol camps and hikes, rock climbing, community service, and a Troop hike on the Boosmansbos trail. The highlight of the 4th term was Alex Clarke completing his Springbok Scout, which will be awarded in the new year. At the final meeting of the year, the six Patrol Leaders making up the Court of Honour stepped down to start their matric year, and a brand new team stepped into their place – thank you to Alex, Alex, Ephraim, Luke, Nina, and Rachel for your leadership, and welcome to Ethan, Holly, Jack, James, Tim and Tim!

As I’m writing this, we have 8 Scouts taking part in the Senior Scout Adventure in the Cederberg, as well as 8 adults in various roles. The Cederberg Adventure is one of the highlights of the Scout calendar and something every Scout should try to attend. In January, we will have our Troop Camp at Hawequas.

The Cub Pack has continued to work closely with the 4th Claremont Fernwood leaders, with joint programme planning (including the Cubs Go Solar theme) and joint activities including a senior Cub hike to the Scout Hut and an end of year campfire. Two of our stalwart Cub leaders are stepping down – Maurits van Bever Donker (Akela) and Kath Kenyon (Bagheera) – and we are extremely grateful for their years of leadership and the fun programmes they have run. At the campfire, Axel van Bever Donker received his Leaping Wolf badge. Lucy du Toit “burrowed up” from the Den to her new role as Akela, and we welcome her warmly to the Cub Pack.

The Meerkat Den continues to thrive under Judith Bishop’s leadership. This term they had a wonderful camp at Appleton, jointly with 4th Claremont, and also had coverage in the Tatler and People’s Post for their recycling initiative and visit to Huis Nuweland. We welcomed Karen to the team as Assistant Den Scouter, while Lucy du Toit has moved from the Den to her new role as Akela in the Cub Pack.

Adult leaders have also worked hard on leader training and paperwork to make sure all our leaders are warranted for their roles. 1st Claremont leaders are very active beyond the group: we were involved in the relaunch of 4th Claremont Fernwood, which is now thriving, Judith heads the Meerkat branch in the Western Cape, David Knight continues as acting District Commissioner and on the Senior Scout Adventure management team, Jonathan Webb heads the First Aid training team, and many of our leaders are active in training courses, competitions, event leadership, social media and other roles in the Western Cape region.

A major focus for the committee this year was fundraising and replacement of the stage roof, and we will go ahead with the replacement in the new year. We continue to recruit new adults as others move on – apart from Maurits and Kath leaving their roles in the Pack, Kathrine Starke and Lynn Koch who looked after Smoke Signals are departing at the end of 2022, as well as Karen le Jeune and Nicole Marshall who are stepping down from the Leasing and Treasurer roles on the committee, which they have run brilliantly – thank you so much!

As a community group, we are entirely run by our volunteers, most of whom are either parents or former Scouts, and our success depends on their involvement. If you would like to be involved in the group, please speak to me or to one of the leaders.

Thank you to everyone your part in 1st Claremont, and looking forward to another successful year of Scouting in 2023!

Ian Webb
Scout Group Leader – 1st Claremont

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Scout Climbing

Several Scouts took part two climbing events recently. The Climbing Scoutcraft Badge course took place at Higgovale Quarry, with Emily, Simon and Becca on staff.

In November, we had a Troop climbing activity at Silvermine Crags. No previous experience was required, and 10 adventure seekers met at the Silvermine Dam entrance and walked to the main crag together with 4 Scouters. It was tough on fingers and toes, but so rewarding to get to the top!

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Meerkats bring joy to Huis Nuweland

Our Meerkats visited Huis Nuweland in Newlands to bring good cheer to the 74 old people. They sang carols and handed our carefully made Christmas ornaments to everyone. The residents thoroughly enjoyed the singing – and joined in with all the songs. When the Meerkats went to talk to older folk, they discovered that one had a son who was a Springbok Scout and one had been a girl guide in Nottingham UK. Said Lorraine, the manager, “The residents and staff loved every minute – they would welcome the Meerkats back anytime.” 

Making craft items is part of the Meerkat Life Skills Theme (Handcraft Badge) as well as the Out of the Box Interest Badge. It is a careful balance to ensure that the task the Meerkats are set can be done in a short amount of time, and yet be pleasing and even useful. On this occasion we had glue guns on hand – and then load shedding hit. Ever prepared, we pulled out the cold glue and were able to keep the ornaments still for a week while they set.

Judith Bishop
Den Scouter, 1st Claremont

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Scout Boosmansbos Trail hike

At the start of October we headed for the two-day Boosmansbos trail hiking trail in the Langeberg between Swellendam and Heidelberg.

After driving from Cape Town, we spent Friday night in the recently-renovated campsite at Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve where we enjoyed a braai.

On Saturday morning we fueled up with flapjacks and set out on the trail. At first the trail runs through indigenous forest, but soon starts a long and steady ascent of the Langeberg. It was a hot day and although the area is quite green, even in mid spring there was no water on the trail. We were quite exhausted by the time we reached the ridge for lunch, and most of the group took a nap on the ridge.

In the afternoon we continued along the northern slope of the Langeberg to the huts, which are basic stone structures – great for shelter, but not really luxury! Supper and a few games of cards and everyone soon dropped off for an early night’s sleep.

Sunday’s hike was a steady descent past some more amazing scenery and dramatic gorges. Apparently the route for the hike was initially intended as a forestry road, so it takes a longer route that avoids steep sections and zigzag ascents.

The last part of the hike took us through a gorge and back into forests, with a detour to see the California redwoods planted more than a century ago. Sunday was a heatwave so it was good to be heading downhill towards the end of the hike. Back in the campsite we had a swim, lunch, and then headed home – seeing two puffadders on the road on the way out.

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Meerkats go camping

Our Meerkats went camping with their families on Signal Hill in November. This was the first time that the National Meerkat Camp had a camp out option.

The Meerkats from 4th Claremont Fernwood joined 1st Claremont Den, their siblings and families for a fun filled weekend. We went on a hike to see the view from the Hill looking down over Cape Town and identified many sights such as the Cable Car, the Docks with ships coming and out, Robben Island and the Stadium. While the parents took care of the braaing, the Meerkats played games, tug ‘o war and made beautiful mandalas from items found on the walk. The campfire was a real hit with everyone, singing the songs we’d practised all year.

Camping was done in Burrows and the parents really enjoyed relaxing with each other while the Meerkats ran free in beautiful surroundings. Of course, everyone was up with the sun the next day. Freshly made pancakes were on offer as we struck the tents. After a reflective Meerkats Own, we went home happy and tired, but ready to do it all again next year.

Judith Bishop
Den Leader

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A year at 4th Claremont Fernwood

Peter Otzen looks back on relaunching 4th Claremont

As we look forward to the exciting adventures which await in 2023, it is worth reflecting on the events which were highlights of the last term this year. We have had a busy term with our Group’s Birthday, the Meerkat National camp, and a Cub hike to the Scout Hut

The Meerkat Camp was part of the National Meerkat Camp and it was well attended by 4th Claremont and the Region as a whole. This cool camp was held at the Appleton Scout Camp on Signal Hill. At the Pack, our Cubs recently hiked up to the Scout hut on Table Mountain along with our friends at 1st Claremont Cub Pack, and had a very exciting time at the Scout Hut, and then trekked down Nursery Ravine into Kirstenbosch. I’m sure that these adventures will form great memories and experiences for all involved. 

On 27 October 2022 we celebrated a full year of operations since our first meeting, held last year, when the Cub Pack kicked off

Since then, we have grown exponentially – a Meerkat Den and a Scout Troop opened (now with 21 Scouts and growing rapidly), and the Cub Pack has gone from strength to strength. 

The Pack and Troop celebrating a year since (re)starting 4th Claremont

We had a fantastic celebration with the Group joining together to celebrate this milestone. A huge thank you to Christine (APS) and Haidee Kingston (committee) for the fabulous cakes!

This year would be, in theory, the Group’s 75th birthday as it was started in 1947 in the grounds of Western Province prep. In 1964 the Hall was built at the current premises (take a peek at the plaque at the front of the Hall when next you visit!) and the Group thundered along until the early 2000s when it closed for lack of adult support. Since then the property hasn’t been used for Scouting, until… 4th Claremont (version 2) began operations…a year ago! We were sent some photos from an ex-scout which shows the Group in operation many decades ago.

Significant thanks must go to some stalwarts who have brought the Group into being: 

  • Paddy Milner (Regional Commissioner), Jenny Martin (Regional Group Development), and Aussie Raad (Regional Property Manager) – for all your support in securing the Group’s position at the Hall, 
  • Ian Webb (SGL 1st Claremont) and the 1st Claremont Group – for starting our Pack and Den, and bringing on board most of their waiting list so that we could grow rapidly, and David Knight for assisting us with various District, Group, and Troop needs,
  • Barry Staak and Elton le Roux, who moved from 1st Claremont to start the 4th Claremont Pack, and the amazing team of Assistant Pack Scouters (APS) Christine Bell, Dhesen Moodley, and parent helper Annette Zulch, as well as Donna Norgarb and Briggie Kirchman.
  • Rian Geldenhuys and Pieter Bloem for being amazing Den Scouters and breathing life into the Meerkats, 
  • Jed Mouton, Connor Stockdale, and Natasha Roomes for being stellar Assistant Troop Scouters and helping to get the Troop started, and our District Commissioner David Knight for assisting with our early Scout meetings . And of course Imogen Kingston for being our first new Scout and Patrol Leader! 
  • Brian Aslett for coming on board to help as Treasurer, and Haidee Kingston as Committee secretary. 

And of course a HUGE thank you to all of our youth members and the parents for being involved and coming regularly to the weekly meetings. 

Have a wonderful, safe, and fun-filled festive season and we look forward to starting our weekly meetings soon in the 1st term. 

Peter Otzen
Scout Group Leader, 4th Claremont Scout Group

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Cubs Going Solar Challenge

The National Challenge for Cubs in 2022 was “Going Solar“. 1st Claremont and 4th Claremont jointly planned several activities throughout the year to complete this challenge.

Which sections of the challenge did you enjoy the most?

The cubs seemed to enjoy the practical aspects of the challenge the most. The experiment on tracking how sunlight affects the growth of plants was very well received – there were many pictures from cubs of the different results, and quite a lot of enthusiasm around why the seeds grew even in the darkness, and the effect on the shoots once placed in the sunlight.

The cubs also enjoyed their green houses, which we made on camp using glass jars (and used to make s’mores) as well as the solar cookers to cook their viennas for their hotdogs (made out of pringle cans).

Which sections of the challenge were the most fun?

Making and cooking with solar power were thoroughly enjoyed by the Cubs. In addition, we did the challenge in conjunction with 4th Claremont Fernwood Cubs, and participating in these activities across packs was also very enjoyable.

The cubs definitely enjoyed eating the food that they cooked! But there was quite some enthusiasm around the different kinds of heat you can generate – the differences between a glass jar as a green house, for example, vs the reflective heat from the pringles can.

What did you learn and what was the outcome?

Cubs learned about keeping themselves safe in the sun, different ways that we can use solar energy (to heat things, to cook, to help plants grow, to purify water using a solar still), and how tasty s’mores are, even when cooked in a green house.

The cubs definitely know more about sun protection, its importance, and how to harness the sun for positive effects.

What were you able to teach others about?

Each of the scouters across the two packs (1st and 4th) undertook different aspects of the Going Solar challenge. We all earned from 1st’s Bagheera, for example, about how to build a solar still.

I enjoyed learning from all the scouters – especially the experiement on sunlight for plant growth.

Where do you think you had the biggest impact?

While the practical experiments had a very large impact factor in terms of cub enjoyment and enthusiasm, I think that the biggest impact will be through the lessons on how to keep yourself safe in the sun. Cubs learned about “slip, slap, slop”, remaining hydrated, wearing protective clothing (including making sunglasses) and how the factor system of sunscreen rating works. This will stand them in good stead for a very long time.

Was the resource material relevant and useful?

Yes, the material was both useful and relevant. We did find that the programme on a plate was too long for one cub meeting. As a result, we split its sections over several meetings throughout the year. The repetition of returning to several of these items each term, we think, also helps cubs to retain the knowledge

What is the one thing you would improve about the challenge?

There aren’t really any aspects that I would change. I think this was a great challenge and pitched perfectly for cubs across the age range.

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Fundraising Auction Success!

How do you raise enough money to replace an aging asbestos roof that has been declared unsafe? With that question hanging over our heads (pun intended), fundraising for the stage roof became one of our main aims during 2022. Clearly, we would need to ask a lot of people for their support! In planning the fundraising, we set these aims:

  1. To raise R100 000 for the roof replacement fund
  2. To establish a fundraising tradition in the group
  3. To run a fun activity for parents in the group
  4. To bring in participants and funds from outside the group

We considered various types of event (trail run, cycle ride, golf day, quiz and pancakes evening), and various formats of auction (external venue or at the hall ? live or online only? catered or bring your own?) before settling on holding the 1st Claremont Fundraising Auction at the hall on 27 October and setting out to collect donations to be auctioned.

Donations came from several directions. Many 1st Claremont families donated wine, art or antiques, restaurant vouchers, stays at holiday homes, and other items. Parents and Scouters approached local businesses who also donated generously. Many wine farms also donated and Judith Bishop in particular received many donations through her contacts. We are very grateful to everyone who donated.

We were very luck to come across Danilo Aquisto who agreed to be our auctioneer. Danilo is a local radio personality who has also been involved in supporting Scouting in various ways. Danilo helped us plan the format of the auction and was a great success on the night. Thank you Danilo!

We prepared a catalog which we shared online. We decided to auction around 30 items through the auctioneer and the other 50 via silent bidding where participants could write their bid on a sheet of paper for each item.

On the evening we set out the lots on display around the hall, set up tables and lighting (and a standby generator in case of load shedding), welcome drinks, and a slideshow of the items on offer. The attendance on the evening was lower than we had hoped for, but the enthusiasm and support from the attendees was very good. Wine, meals, experiences and holiday offerings fetched good prices, mostly reaching or exceeding their estimated values.

We were delighted that the auction itself brought in R75 000. We also received many cash donations from alumni and families including those who could not be present at the event, and voluntary contributions from parents in addition to their Scout fees for 2022. Altogether our fundraising during 2022 brought in just over R140 000, which (together with previous savings) will enable us to replace the roof without emptying our bank account completely!

We are very grateful to all those who contributed to the success of the auction, and we look forward to replacing the roof soon!

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