Opening a new Scout Group in Claremont

Big news: we are planning to open another cub pack and scout troop in Claremont! The idea has been around for a while – our growing group can’t keep up with our long waiting list, so there is clearly demand for more groups in our area. 

We are planning to start by finding adults who are interested in training to become cub leaders of the new cub pack. With that team, we can start a new cub pack, and hopefully expand to include a new scout troop as well soon afterwards.

If you are interested in being involved, please get in touch. It’s not essential to have been a cub or scout, and training is available. It obviously helps if you’re good with children, and enjoy the outdoors, teamwork, life skills and community service! Being a cub leader is fun and rewarding. 

For more background

1st Claremont has a full cub pack and a very long waiting list. When families apply for a place, we warn about the long wait (as much as 2 years) and provide details of other nearby packs which may have a place available, but we are not able to find places for everyone. Our scout troop has a similar waiting list challenge.  Clearly there is a demand for more scout groups in Claremont and surrounds.

In the 1980s and 1990s there were four thriving groups in Claremont (and even a 5th and 6th Claremont if you go back further in history). There was a decline in the 1990s when 2nd and 4th Claremont closed, 3rd Claremont closed its scout troop, and 1st Claremont closed its cub pack. 1st Claremont’s cub pack reopened in 2014, and since then the group has seen continuous growth, even successfully launching our Meerkat branch during the pandemic.

So, it’s a great time to launch a new scout group in the Claremont area. Our plan is to recruit leaders to launch a cub pack during 2021, accepting 7 and 8 year old cubs initially. That gives the new group two years to establish its own scout troop in time for their first 11 year olds to go up to Scouts.

We will probably run the new group in the 1st Claremont hall for a few months to establish the new group before moving to another hall in Claremont.

If you are interested in being involved, please contact

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Scout Group Leader update

To start with I’d like to congratulate our Smoke Signals editors and contributors for earning 2nd place in the national HV Marsh competition for Scout journalism! Last year we were in 1st place and this year we were runners up to 6th Rondebosch. Well done to them as well.

Adult leaders

The group keeps on growing and we now have 84 youth and 24 adult leaders, probably an all time record for 1st Claremont. Well done to 10 of those adults who have received warrants after completing training, and a highlight was having three cub dads being presented with their scarves as adult leaders by their cub daughters. We also welcomed back several of our 18 year old former scouts as adult leaders.

Being a leader at Meerkat, cub or scout level starts with a background check and an introductory training course to qualify for an 18 month warrant, extended to five years after attending a warrant training course. There are also a host of other courses for adult leaders such as mountain awareness, water awareness, Jungle Book, cub camping, and a level 3 accredited first aid course.

Committee updates

Our tenants have had a tough time during the pandemic, but this is gradually recovering and the hall is being better used by community groups this last year, with Karen signing up several new tenants and renewing others. We had a productive work party recently, and Pierre has worked hard on the hall and grounds maintenance, arranging new safety signage in the hall and repairing the gravel parking ramp, and has improvements lined up for exterior lighting, paving and drainage, if the budget allows! Meantime we recently received our first municipal bill since the land was subdivided in 2018, covering three years of backdated refuse and water – fortunately we were expecting this, although we underestimated the amount.

Subscriptions and donations

Thank you to all families who have paid their annual subscriptions, and especially to those who donated to the group appeal in a difficult year.

Nationally, Scouts South Africa is in a tough financial position, and I’d like to appeal to parents to support our Scout shop – their range of hoodies, t-shirts, caps, masks and buffs are popular with our Meerkats, Cubs and Scouts, make good gifts, and look great on parents as well! You can also make Scouts South Africa a beneficiary of your MySchool card.

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Cubs on the move

The term started with Katie, Charles and Jayden were invested as new Cubs. Three dads were also invested as Assistant Pack Scouters and presented their scarves by their daughters.

Two Cubs earned their Leaping Wolf badge. A big part of the Leaping Wolf is the Personal Challenge. Rhys told us about recovering after surgery to remove a spinal tumour in 2020, learning to walk again, and reaching his goal of hiking to the King’s Blockhouse. Kiran wrote about how he decided to keep himself busy and happy with new projects during lockdown, which included a series of artworks, a YouTube channel, learning piano, caring for animals, hiking, and more. Both logbooks were amazing to read and we are proud of Rhys and Kiran for their Leaping Wolf badges.

The Cubs walked from Cecilia Forest car park to Kirstenbosch. Mountain safety and the buddy system were covered.

At one of our indoor meetings, the Cubs explored culture and flags.

The Cubs traditionally end each term with an activity that involves lighting fires. At the end of last term they cooked stokbrood.

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Meerkats Nature Ramble

Tucked away in Newlands is the Kildare Reserve. Thanks to Otter, our Meerkats were able to explore the rain forest along the stream and connect with nature. They made bird feeders, Meerkat models and bark rubbing cards for Mother’s Day – “Mum, you are tree-mendous”. Afterwards the families enjoyed a picnic on the grass, getting to know each other. The photos say it all.

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Meerkats go camping and hiking

The Meerkats tackled the great outdoors, hiking with their families in the Cederberg, Ceres, on some beautiful beaches and all over our own Table Mountain. At the end of the first term we held a Camp at Home together which was great fun as we all caught up at bedtime for a Zoom chat. The Little Camper badge required that they sleep out of their bedroom all night (in a tent or fort), cook outside and look at the stars. One final requirement was to sing round a campfire. We enjoyed that scouting experience in the hall, even though it was raining!

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Most scouts troops fail not because there is a lack of youth but because there is a lack of willing adult volunteers.

There are many strands to unpick in that simple statement. One of the things that scouts has done and continues to do badly is sell the benefits to adults of being a volunteer. The low public standing of scouts in South Africa, compared to, say, the United States, makes this a difficult sell. In the US, scouts can and does frequently point to facts like 10 of the 12 astronauts who walked on the moon were scouts. South Africa cannot point to well known public figures who were scouts or any statistics comparable to the above. This is partially a product of our past with scouts viewed as a relic of an colonial past and the era of apartheid resulting in a racially divided scout movement in South Africa until it was unified in 1977 in defiance of the government of the day.

Volunteering in scouts can have great benefits in both a personal and business life. Of course a volunteer’s partner rapidly finds out that scouts is about their scouting half not being present over weekends and evenings spent in creating programmes or in meetings. This is a marital or relational matter to be negotiated but where there are children in the movement with the volunteer, the volunteer will find their relationship with their children considerably enhanced. There is always a topic of conversation and the amount of time spent with children will be considerably increased.

For business, the skills one learns in scouts by working with the youth and with other adult volunteers and the organisational and planning skills are used every day in a working life. A volunteer will find that their business skills are enhanced by the skills acquired in scouts and vice versa. The range of opportunities in scouts means that a volunteer can (and indeed must) move to a new position on a regular basis. New skills are acquired in new positions.

Even if the advantages above are not really realised there is nonetheless satisfaction in volunteering. We take nothing from this world, we leave only a legacy. Volunteering in scouts leaves, as Baden-Powell said, “the world a better place than you found it”.

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Emily on her first camp

Simon’s Springbok camp was so much fun! I wasn’t even invested when I went so I found the camp fascinating and new. The badge that Simon focused on was  Fires and Cooking Scoutcraft. Simon did an excellent job at teaching us and made it so fun! Due to COVID-19 each person slept in their own tent (some people’s went flying due to the strong wind) and social distanced, but that didn’t stop scouts from being scouts as all the scouts wanted to do was just generally everything that wasn’t meant to be done. This was an amazing start to my scouting career. Thanks Simon for running such as amazing camp!

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Kristin on LDC 1

LDC1 is the first part of a leadership scout course. On the course, we learnt multiple Scout skills including mapping, compass bearings, lashings and more. We were split into patrols of about seven people and it was our responsibility to get to know each other and work together to complete a series of tasks. One of our tasks was to build a chariot to carry one patrol member across a field and back using square, sheer and round lashings; another was to complete a mini quiz using the scout laws and promise to tie a knot and find a compass bearing to move on to the next base. 

We learnt the promise and laws off-by-heart, along with multiple knots and lashings. LDC1 was a great learning experience for everyone there and also a lot of fun!

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