Adventure and observation at Arderne Gardens

Outings are a lovely way to get a change of scenery, build a sense of community and to put the skills learnt in the Meerkat Den to good use in the great outdoors. They are also an important requirement for the bronze, silver and gold star advancement badges.

This term the 1st Claremont Den met at Arderne Gardens in Claremont to complete the sound observation activity for the Observer badge and to go on a treasure hunt for the Adventure badge. In a previous meeting the Meerkats had learnt about what a compass looks like and what it does, and practised the different points of the compass. They had drawn a direction finder with the points of the compass and the south face of Table Mountain in the North West.

The Meerkats had packed this and other essentials into a survival kit which they made sure to bring on this outing. In their burrows, the Meerkats set off on a treasure hunt using this direction finder, stopping at 8 points along the way to listen for and identify specific sounds (dogs barking, birds chirping, frogs clicking, etc.) At the last point they had to find the hidden treasure which was a beautifully painted rock made by Assistant Den Scouter Galago. The meeting ended with a picnic and a play on the lawns.

Karen Meyer, Assistant Den Scouter

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Growth of the Scout Group

I’ve got a success story graph for you. Look at the top line – that’s the growth of 1st Claremont Scout Group over the years. We’re now at 109 members, our biggest so far, and up 300% since our centenary in 2008. You’ll see a few nice upward steps on it . One is in 2014 when, after a few years of slow decline, we suddenly got recruiting right and doubled the Scout Troop in a year. Next is the yellow line in 2015, when we reopened the Cub Pack. Next was in 2018, when the Cubs going up to Scouts shot the Troop size up to record levels. And then in 2021, when we opened Meerkats. There is one decline worth mentioning – the drop in Cubs in 2021. This was intentional because a very large Cub Pack was producing too many Scouts for the Troop to handle, so we decided to let our Cub numbers reduce slightly. From 2021 to 2022 our numbers have been stable and we are basically at our maximum.

Not shown on the graph: in 2021 and 2022, we got involved in restarting the 4th Claremont Fernwood Scout Group, just up the road from us, not least because we couldn’t find places at 1st Claremont for all the people who have asked to join. 4th Claremont closed about 20 years ago, but their hall is once again home to a thriving group of Meerkats, Cubs and Scouts.

Adult leaders

Hidden in the graph is a purple line that has grown steadily to 25 adult leaders, mostly former Scouts or parents. That gives us the biggest adult team of any group in the Western Cape, and it is one of the the main keys to the success of the group – adult volunteers who have joined the team, done the training, and produce an excellent programme that keeps the Meerkats, Cubs and Scouts coming back, and leads to word-of-mouth recruiting in the community. There’s clearly demand for Scouting!

Talking of adult leaders, the following have received their warrants in the past term: Natasha, Becca, David, Karen, Sahil, Brian, Lucy, Caleb, Simon, Namita, Thomas, Justin and Chris. Jonathan completed his Wood Badge, and Judith, David and Jonathan received their third Wood Badge beads as Assistant Leader Trainers.

Thank you to all our adult volunteers for doing the training and paperwork and for the part you play in our amazing Scout Group and beyond.

By the way, someone asked why we were having a “Scout” fundraising auction and not mentioning the Cubs and Meerkats. Well, the reason is that all of them are also Scouts – maybe we should call them “Cub Scouts” and “Meerkat Scouts” to make that clearer!

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Vera writes about why she likes Cubs

To me, Cubs is like the last thing you do before tucking yourself under a blanket on the sofa and watching a movie for movie night. The part I like about Cubs most is the game of red rover we play when the meeting is done, also shark attack and helicopter; I really like those too. I think the reason I like Cubs is because of all the fun games we play and all the interesting things we do and make and that we can earn badges. I hope they make a Cub meeting based on Lego.

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Jenny writes about Cubs in Term 3

Jenny wrote about activities in the third term: a visit from the ER24 ambulance service, a night hike, and cooking “stokbrood”:

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Christopher writes about our Paradise Park outing

We had a very fun outing to Paradise/Buckburn Park.  It started with 3 Cubs being invested in the park which was fun. Then we did a nature scavenger hunt looking for interesting things – one of the things on the list was a big smile, and we all had them!

We split into bases.  My six did path finding first.  We used compasses to follow instructions counting our steps in certain directions.  It was hard to be accurate, but we found the end point.

Next we learnt to fold paper boats.  It was tricky to get it right, but they went well in the end when we floated them down the canal.

Our last base was the zipline! I thought it was the best base! The zipline had been set up between two big trees.  Two adults helped us to climb up to the handle, and then we lifted our feet up and flew down the zipline so fast! A Scout caught us at the bottom so that we didn’t hit the tree. We each got to go 3 or 4 times, but I wish we could have gone more! The things we do at Cubs are so fun!

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Arwen wrote about Cub Camp

Arwen and Rhys left Cape Town and moved back to the UK earlier this year. Before she left, Arwen wrote this this article about our Cub Camp. We miss you guys!

I went to cub camp from the 25 – 27 February. 

Cub camp was at Hawequas and it took two hours to get there.

My mom came with as she was helping to cook the food at cub camp.

We put up the tent together and after that I started carving a rock into a heart. That night two astrologers [astronomers! -ed] taught us about the stars and moon. Me and my mom saw two shooting stars. 

In the morning we made alien hats. Then we smashed rocks for the geologist to examine. 

It was very very very hot so we swam in a cold pool. The pool had frogs in it. The frogs jumped round our feet. That night we went into the forest for a campfire. We sang songs and danced about. 

It was the best weekend I’ve ever had! 

The next morning we did PT (pointless torture) and it was hard. Then we had muffins. Then we got into a group and got badges and we went home! 

I really want to go back, it was fun and I learnt lots and it gave me exercise. 

My favourite thing was making up jokes at the campfire. 

The best thing was doing it with my cub friends and family.

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Gone Home – David Hutchinson

I first met David online in the mid 1990s when he contacted me to say he had been a Cub at 1st Claremont many years earlier, before leaving for Ireland. He subsequently visited us several times as he still had family here. I think his first visit was to see an aerial runway / foeffie slide built by the Scouts at the Rondebosch craft market. He gave me some advice for the Archery base that I was staffing at the Cederberg Adventure. My father and I also hiked up Table Mountain with him. The route up Skeleton Gorge is beautiful but steep and unrelenting, and David struggled, but he was determined and reached the top, with much puffing! At the top he took a photo of the prominent cliff overhang above Kasteelspoort, which he got published in a magazine in Ireland. We kept in touch for many years but eventually lost touch, so I was very sad to hear of his passing recently via Facebook. – Ian Webb (SGL)

Below are some of the posts from others who knew David:

“Been a strange week, I have just learnt of the passing of Doctor David Hutchinson.

Former Scout leader and District Commissioner for Antrim and District in Northern Ireland.

Dave was a great influence on my Scouting career.

I probably wouldn’t have finished my Queen Scout Award, or went half the places I did. He talked me in to going to London Venture back in the early nineties then to the World Moot in Switzerland a year or two later. He had me on the NI Venture Scout Board where I represented County Antrim. And no doubt he was involved in me getting the Chief Scouts Commendation I received while he was District Commissioner for Antrim and District.

The first time I met him though was at his home and his radio shack where he introduced several of us to HAM Radio and I really enjoyed talking to people from different countries on the Jamboree on the Air weekends. I loved it and continued on with CBs and various other radios in the years after.

Thank you David, and may you RIP. Thoughts and prayers go out to his wife Gillian, his children and the wider family circle.”

“One memory of Dr Dave was him driving 6 or 7 of us in a mini metro through west Belfast the night Bobby Sands died. People were on the streets and hijacking cars. David said something to the effect of ‘don’t worry lads I will get you to Ardnavally in time for the BBQ.’ We came home up the motorway!

Thank you for your service to scouting and condolences to the family.”

“Oh no. Not David Hutchinson. Oh how sad. I didn’t know. Spent many years with David and our International Scouter friends on many online international activities, especially some of the very first JOTI Activities 95/96/97 before World Scouting took up the challenge. I am deeply saddened that he is gone. He was a wonderful friend and it was an honour to know him and his family. When the Australian Olympics were held in Sydney David and his wife came out to be Judge for the International Archery. We were not able to meet up but we did manage to have a few phone calls.

Well served, David. Go home in honour and peace.”

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1st Claremont Scouts Fundraising Auction

You are invited to the 2022 1st Claremont Scouts Fundraising Auction!

Date: Saturday 29 October 2022
Time: 6:30 for 7 pm
Venue: 1st Claremont Scout Hall, 17 Bowwood Road, Claremont (map)
Auctioneer: Danilo Acquisto
Who: Parents and supporters of Scouting, friends, members of the public – an evening out, without the kids.
Bring: A picnic supper and drinks.
No charge for the evening! But bring a credit card to pay for your successful bids.

What is on offer: A wide range of excellent wines, art, holiday weekends, household items, bicycles, vouchers for fitness and beauty treatments, and more. See our catalog for details.

Raising funds for: urgent replacement of a section of the roof of the 1st Claremont Scout Hall. Read more here.

RSVP to to confirm your attendance

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