Smoke Signals 2020: Second Edition

The Covid-19 crisis has necessitated a state of lockdown – an unprecedented global event. Because of this, the 1st Claremont scouts and cubs group have had to learn how to do things differently.

Unable to meet up, the group has been meeting via an on-line portal and in this post Luke Foord discusses the challenges of on-line scouting . Our scouts have undertaken some at-hoe, lockdown activities – read upon the Covid 10 badge, and hear from Alex about the District Competition and Holly about the Lockdown Trophy. The move to Level 3 has meant that scouts can now exercise – not as group, but with their family and we encourage everyone to join the ‘hike to Mahikeng‘.

The group were able to complete a couple of activities before lockdown – there was a successful pioneering project completed before lockdown and the cubs were able to go to the senior camp. And a new Rover group has been established at 1st Claremont – and they managed to squeeze in a few ‘real life’ activities to kick off their programme. The Cubs have been busy with activities at home and a mountaineering at home challenge on Freedom Day. Two Cubs have completed their Leaping Wolf badges and you can read about their projects on Blessing Bags and Cyberbullying.

iNaturalist’s annual City nature challenge took place under unusual circumstances this year: in our back gardens. None the less, there was an enthusiastic turn out from our scouts and cubs.

We end with some ‘admin’: a regional update which highlights some of the activities undertaken by scouts in the past 3 months; notes from our Committee; a heads up about the forthcoming Scout survey – which we encourage everyone to please take and as always, we end with the troop scouter’s reflections for these challenging times.

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City Nature Challenge 2020

Cubs and scouts took part in the worldwide City Nature Challenge this year using the iNaturalist app to observe and identify plants, birds, animals and insects between 24-27th April. This year was a challenge with a difference – lockdown meant there were no trips up Table Mountain, and everything had to be done from home. At 1st Claremont, 40 cubs, scouts and scouters took part, and entered nearly 700 observations, and scouting overall contributed nearly a quarter of Cape Town’s total of 34000 observations – the most of any city in the world!

The City Nature Challenge takes place once a year but the iNaturalist app operates year round.

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Luke Neville talks about Rovers, the fourth branch of scouting at 1st Claremont

As of the 24th of March 2020, the 1st Claremont Rover crew is officially registered with Scouts SA. This is the fourth and final branch of scouting – for adults between the ages of 18 and 35 – and focuses on providing a community for young adults through service to self, the community and the movement. 

Though rovering is not new to 1st Claremont, we have not had a rover crew for many many years, so it is exciting to be starting this journey again in the group. We have had our eyes on starting a crew for a couple of years, and now with many of our senior scouts turning 18 this year, we finally have a critical mass to get it going. Currently comprised of Assistant Troop Scouters, there are 10 young adults who are beginning the journey to become knighted as rovers, with 4 more senior scouts hopefully joining us soon. 

In much the same way as scouts provides a space and community for teenagers to grow and learn, rovers aims to help young adults navigate the world as they move into furthering their studies or beginning work life. The focus is on equipping young adults with tools needed to tackle life’s many challenges, and providing support along the way. Leaving the relatively comfortable space of school often feels like a rollercoaster, but rovers aims to offer guiding principles and areas of focus to help that transition. 

Before the lockdown, the crew went on a hike up Devil’s Peak.

Like scouts, rovers has an advancement system that culminates in the BP Award. The tasks along the way encourage rovers to focus on citizenship and service to the community, to pursue meaningful careers and lifestyles and to give back to the scouting movement. 

Though I have gotten the crew off the ground, I will be stepping down as the crew chairperson in two months, as I am leaving to continue my studies in Europe. Daniel Le Jeune will take over as crew chairperson and will continue to build the crew and ensure its long term success.

There are already a small number of other rover crews in the Western Cape, and more crews are starting up. We are excited to be a part of this growing movement and look forward to the many friendships that we will build within our crew and between other rover crews. 

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by Julia for her Leaping Wolf badge

Cyberbullying is when children use online technology to hurt, embarrass and annoy other kids. It is done purposefully and goes on for a long time.

Before the internet, bullying mostly happened in person.Children were bullied at school, break and at the bus stop.But once they got home the bullying stopped. Now with modern technology kids can be bullied anywhere at any time.

Today we use texting, email and social media to talk to our friends.This means that cyberbullying can happen easily. Mean messages,embarrassing photos and pictures can be sent to the whole school with just one click. Cyberbullying doesn’t only happen during the week it can carry on during weekends and even holidays!

What you can do to help 

  • Don’t reply to any emails, texts or app messages sent by a cyberbully.
  • Save, screenshot and print all of the messages sent by the bully as cyberbullying proof.
  • If you are being cyber bullied tell an adult to get help solving your problem.
  • If a friend is getting cyberbullied and you know about it you should immediately tell a parent or teacher. 

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Regional and National News Roundup

Scouts is a vibrant organisation with many activities on offer and a need for volunteers to help deliver. Not all of these activities are offered at Group level and we would like to not only ensure that our scouts are aware of opportunities and developments but also to help Scouts SA find volunteers to help it deliver the great scout activities that scouting is renowned for. This regular column will list these aspects as a summary of opportunities and positions in the last 3 months and also highlight some interesting articles on the Scouts SA website.

Badges and Challenges

Covid 19 Badge. To raise awareness of Covid 19, a Covid 19 badge is offered to all 4 branches of scouts (Meerkats, Cubs, Scouts and Rovers). More information is available here.

Hike to Mahikeng. To encourage everyone to get out and get exercise, a Hike to Mahikeng badge is offered to all members of scouting. Details on this badge are covered elsewhere in this edition of Smoke Signals but can also be found here.

Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). The World Organisation for Scouts (WOSM) of which Scouts SA is a member launched the Scouts 4 SDG Goals campaign to encourage scouts around the world to contribute towards reaching global sustainable development goals. There is a very substantial amount of information on these goals. You can get an introduction here and more detailed information on the 2020 requirements are found here.


Vacancy Chair: National Scout Programme. There is a vacancy for the Chair: National Scout Programme. The information for this role is: If you are passionate about delivering a quality Scouting programme to children aged 11 – 18 years of age, and have a thorough understanding of the socio – economic circumstances in which Scout Groups and Troops currently operate, then you are just the person we are looking for. View more information about the position here. To apply email – subject line: Chair National Scout Programme.  Closing date for applications 8th July 2020.


Read about:

How the the UFS Rovers helped students at Free State University

A Scout in Stellenbosch helped people commuting to and from work to sanitise.

Jula Wolf, a German volunteer and former ATS at 1st Claremont, and what it was like to come to South Africa as a scout volunteer.

Scouting for Schools and how scouting is providing role models.

How 6th Rondebosch Rovers organised a donations drive to help people in Site B in Khayelitsha

More stories can be found on the Scouts SA website.

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Blessing Bags and Community Service

As one of her Leaping Wolf challenges, Olivia collected donations and packed Blessing Bags containing food, toiletries and warm clothing to hand out to homeless people in the Southern Suburbs. Well done Olivia for helping people facing the triple challenge of homelessness, Covid-19 lockdown, and the start of Cape winter.

Community Service forms part of the Cub programme, starting with the Cub promise “to do a good turn to somebody every day”. This term many of our Cubs made gifts for Mothers Day, and supported vulnerable people in the community with donations for Olivia’s Blessing Bags, Jars of Hope for Covid-19 hunger relief, and home-made playdough for an early learning centre in Langa.

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Committee Notes

With the advent of Covid 19, the hall was closed to tenants on the instructions of the City of Cape Town. To date, the hall remains closed to all users.

The consequence of this was that we lost one of major streams of income (rental from our tenants). It is fortunate that the Group is in a strong financial position, thanks to our long term plan which sees us setting aside some 10% of monthly income into long term savings for various objectives. One of those objectives is to have a emergency fund able to fund the Group for six months and while we are still working towards this, we do have money set aside for emergencies such as Covid 19.

At the same time, the branches (cubs, scouts, meerkats and rovers) all were required by Scouts SA to cease normal activities and it was agreed by the committee that we would only incur essential expenses until such time as we were able to resume normal operations. In the interim, cubs, scouts and rovers have all continued via virtual meetings. Meerkats has not been able to commence under the lockdown restrictions due to unavailability of the adult leaders.

Over the last few years we have invested large amounts of money into our infrastructure so that our security is considerably better than it was and the hall is far better maintained. While there are many years to go in the overall plan, the investment to date has served us well with just a small leak being detected. We have been fortunate too that the homeless people living next door at the old bowling club have, to date, been deterred by our increased security.

We hope that this pandemic will follow the predicted curve (or better) and that we will soon be able to resume scouting and allow our tenants (who are struggling with the unavailability of the hall) to resume activities, even on a restricted basis, and our meerkats, cubs, scouts and rovers to resume some activities. In the interim we are confident of the Group’s ability to weather the storm!

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Scout Troop Parent Survey

We will shortly be releasing our first version of a survey of scout parents. The object of the survey is to try and get a better feel as to the reality of our members’ lives as it affects their scouting. We feel that this is an important part of being able to gauge which activities are suitable, the importance of advancement to our families and where scouting fits into the priorities of our scouts.

We have, at present, very few scouters (just one) with a child at school and even if we had a few, a broad survey should give us important information to improve the activities offered, their cost and their timing. The survey will also collect some personal information such as which schools are represented at the troop and the current grade of each scout.

No information will be released other than statistical information and the collected individual responses will only be available to the Troop Scouter.

A survey is only useful if we get a reasonably good response, so please keep an eye open for the email and help us deliver better scouting.

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