Ryan reports on Rozanna’s Discoverer hike

Oliver, Holly, Rozy and myself set out on a hike at Silvermine. It was a hot sunny day, but it was rather windy. We set out early morning on a path that winded up the mountain towards Muizenberg. The incline was steep but relatively easy and it was not long before there were great vistas. The flowers were beautiful: splashes of yellow and purple. We wrapped around the mountain and came up onto the peak to the most beautiful views over Noordhoek. The bay was calm with very little swell. No good for surfing! We rested here and ate our lunch.

We could see the Silvermine Dam which was our starting point. After a good chat we set off down the mountain back towards the parking lot at Silvermine Dam. It was great to reach the end and take off our shoes! This hike is recommended for hikers of all levels. It was thoroughly enjoyable.

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Springbok Dinner Photos

Natasha, David, Matthew and Peter Niddrie

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Upton Shield Photos!

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Ethan on live scouting

Finally, live meetings again! I was so excited when the email came through. At last scouts could meet again in person. I wondered what we would be doing for the first few meetings. At last the day came. I was super excited to see everybody again.

All we did for the first 15 minutes was catch up with everybody and share how school was going – it was so nice. Soon we had our first proper flag break in months and got to the different activities. From filtering water to answering quizzes on Baden-Powel’s life, the activities gave us the normal form of scouting that we hadn’t had for six months. Everybody had a wonderful time and the first meetings back will not be forgotton. Thank you to all the scouters who have put so much effort into making scouts fun over the last six months and the first two live meetings for a long time. I can’t wait for more!!!

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Meerkats gets going!

Meerkats is the newest branch of scouting in South Africa, aimed at children between 5 and 7. We registered our Meerkats branch early this year and were just about to kick it off without qualified scouters when …. you guessed it – COVID hit and everything went on hold. When we came out of lockdown, the world was different and Nick who was going to run the Meerkats was in a different position in his life with different demands on his time.

Fortunately, we were approached by Judith and Lucy who are both keen to start Meerkats and, with the support of our qualified scouters, Nick and Rebecca Hall, we will be having our first three try-it-out Meerkat meetings this year. Since Meerkats is very new, these are experimental meetings to see how things work. There is still adult training to sort out (still negatively impacted by COVID restrictions) but we expect, all things being equal, to be able to launch a full Meerkat Den at the end of January 2021.

Meerkats is expected to run on Saturday mornings at the scout hall and the first experimental meeting will be on the 14th November.

With our Rovers getting going, 1st Claremont should have every branch of scouting functional (or at least as functional as we are allowed to be) in 2021. This will, I believe, make us the only Group in the Western Cape to offer the full range of scouting.

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Committee Notes

The advent of lockdown not only impacted the activities of scouts and cubs but also severely impacted the plans of the committee. For months, the hall was entirely closed to activities and of course this included our tenants who suddenly found themselves without the means of earning a living or engaging in their chosen activities. The severe reduction in income caused a delay in the execution of our plans to continue maintaining and upgrading the infrastructure.

One of our most important maintenance objectives is to ensure the floor is cared for. The floor is sprung flooring of teak and it would be impossible for us to replace it with a equivalent wood (estimated cost for us to do so is R1 million). However, over the years, sections of the floor have broken, leaving long grooves in the floor. Further, every flooring company has wished to sand the floor. Sanding a wooden floor reduces its thickness, rendering it more vulnerable to damage.

Eventually, we located a company which proposed to clean the floor and to repair the grooves but not to sand it. Given the large cost of this essential maintenance we hesitated to commit money during a time when there was no income. However, the floor maintenance required the hall to be unused for a week.

When it looked like lockdown would be lifted sufficiently, the committee committed the money and the floor was repaired and recoated before the hall was re-opened. Because the floor was not sanded, the presence of residual varnish means the floor does not appear to be evenly coated, something we had not anticipated. We will need to recoat the floor at regular intervals and over time, it will become a consistent colour.

At the end of this year, several members of the committee will not be standing again. If you would like to join the committee and contribute to the continued growth of the Group and development of our scouts, please contact us.

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1st Claremont is a mixed gender group. Girls were first admitted to scouts in the year 2000 and there are still quite a number of groups that are boys only (in Liesbeek District 2 out of 5 groups are boys only). The question of the boys only groups allowing girls in is a vexed one with strong opinions on both sides.

Older adult leaders who were in scouts grew up in an all boys scout movement. For some it is difficult to make the shift to a mixed gender environment with its added requirements and complexity. For others mixed gender scout groups are more pleasant to run.

For us, the presence of mixed genders is an opportunity to deal with questions of gender based violence and to encourage good and healthy relationships between the genders. With many children still attending single sex schools, there continues to be a distance between the genders. Media stereotypical portrayal of genders and the easy access to pornography can influence the view of the other gender so that they are seen as objects and not people.

A mixed gender group can help to ameliorate these effects. The opportunity to mix easily and freely with the opposite gender and to have good role models helps scouts to see every other scout as a person and not an object. Being a patrol leader means that you must actively engage with your scouts and understand their motivations and issues. It requires empathy on the part of the patrol leader and the assistant patrol leader.

Scouts practices “learning by doing”. This is true not only for scout skills but also for how our scouts interact with each other. We may discuss GBV at times but ultimately we want our scouts to learn by doing – by seeing the example others set and to follow suit. We may never see the direct effects of this but we believe that scouts has a positive unmeasured effect on our scouts in their future relationships with others.

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Searching for the lost with Matthew

On Wednesday the 8th of July I joined 500 volunteers in searching for Kenneth Stephen. He was a trail runner who went missing on Monday evening.

I heard about the call for assistance on Tuesday evening. After some discussion with my parents, I decided to go help. In the morning I packed my bag and my dad drove me to the meet point, which was below the cable car. I was late, so didn’t know what was going on, but I eventually signed in and found a group to be with. By 10am half of the groups had been given a part of the mountain to search and had started searching. But my group was still on Platteklip road when the organisers asked if anyone had rock climbing experience. Naturally, I said that I did. They told me and the two others who volunteered that we would be part of a special team. We were tasked with searching dangerous/risky parts of the mountain near cliffs. We would not be doing any actual rock climbing, but we would need to be comfortable with hights and able to hold on to the rockface. I was glad to help.

The WSR member asked if we were afraid of hights. We weren’t. He then told us that we would be getting a ride in a helicopter, and to feel free to smile and grin. After some talk, we threw our packs in a Jeep and drove up to the helicopter. The chopper was a beautiful Air Africa Mercy helicopter. We were given a safety briefing and told the order we would be flying up in, as there was only room for 3 passengers at a time. We had to wear harnesses, helmets, stow all lose items and clip into the helicopter. I went up in the first group. It was very cramped and quite loud.  Once we landed safely, we got out, careful not to step on the float, we crouched on top of our packs next to the helicopter until it had taken off again.

After the second trio were brought up, we set of down to a narrow path on the cliff face on the camps bay side of the mountain. We skirted round to our first search area, between two tall cliffs. Our objective was to search everywhere off the paths, as they had been done already. There were two experienced WSR members with us. Andy Wood “Woody” was our team leader. We searched the first area toughly, and having found nothing, we moved on and round onto the town side of the mountain where we met up with two other climbers.

After a chat and a water break, we set about searching the ledges in the amphitheatre near Right face – Arrow face. We split into two groups and searched two terraces at once.  The going was tough, because the brush was unpleasant, the sand loose and the nearby cliff daunting, but it was alright. We searched up to about halfway, where the wet rock meant that it would have been dangerous to continue. After searching the accessible parts of the cliffs in Africa face we regrouped and had lunch on India Venster ridge.

Everyone was very nice to talk to, and my lunch tasted great, even though my toast had untoasted itself in my bag. When we had finished eating, we split into two groups and went down India Venster. The WSR members decided to repel down a waterfall, to see if the body was at the bottom, but before they did, we received a call saying that his body had been spotted. None of I knew and more details at this point, so we headed down to the meet point by the cable car.

It transpired that he was spotted by a helicopter in Africa Amphitheatre. 50 meters below where we had been searching. The most likely explanation is that he jumped from the top. I got a lift home and later saw news coverage of the search and recovery on news24. Overall, it was slightly morbid, but fun experience, as I haven’t hiked in that area before. I will definitely volunteer again, even if there isn’t a helicopter ride in I for me. I am glad I could help.

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