Mackenzie on LDC2

On LDC 2 we had to teach a skill to the others. We had to choose a piece of paper and read the problem and think of a way to solve it. We learned about other troops and cool skills. We practised knots and first aid skills. We spoke about planning a meeting. We talked about scouts and what we did at our troops. We learned about PLs, their jobs and responsibilities. We did a first aid scene and played a memory game. We talked about how scouts is a mix of all different religions, gender and race. Then we went home.

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Laura tells us about Upton

Upton this year wasn’t exactly what we were expecting, but still a very satisfying experience. The bases weren’t what we thought they’d be, either, and not anything like the training we’d done. It was a wonderful hike ending at Hawequas, like Upton did last year. 1st Claremont did well in the competition, and we scored notable positions of first, second and eighth out of the six patrols entered. I think all the Scouts from all the many troops enjoyed the competition and learned a lot from the day spent there.

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Smoke Signals 2021 – First Edition

It has been a tough couple of months what with the second wave of COVID hitting the country over Christmas. Even with all these issues, our cubs and scouts have been active as has the group. We are better prepared this year for COVID resurgence and so even if everything isn’t normal – a scout smiles and whistles under all difficulties!

In this edition we look back over the last three months and see that we have been active, even if it not necessarily the type of activity that we want.

Importantly, we took a great step forward when we established our delayed Meerkat unit. We are one of the very first groups to do so and it is testament to the enthusiasm of our hard working scouters that the Merkats managed to start up in the middle of the pandemic. They started off on Zoom but shortly after that managed to meet in Keurboom Park. To Judith, the Meerkat Scouter, and all the Meerkats and their parents we say welcome to 1st Claremont.

Our cubs have been busy making conservation stoves online but then moved to face to face meetings where they helped clean up the Liesbeek River, made mini-first aid kits and donated packets of love to the less fortunate. They were also busy doing advancements and working towards Leaping Wolf.

The scouts ended 2020 not with the usual camp but with a 3 day expedition in small groups, finishing just before the second wave caused all scouting activities to be halted. The expedition consisted of different activities such as hiking, exploring parts of Cape Town on foot and making camping shelters.

Scouts didn’t start the year online but used the patrol system to meet in small groups. The first few weekends they went on a hike and in subsequent weekends built a seesaw and a swing bridge in their patrols.

The Committee has been busy in the first few months of the year with major maintenance work on the hall and dealing with the associated issues caused by lockdown. These issues are exacerbated by the neglect of the land next to our land.

Finally, there are Reflections on Scouting.

We hope you enjoy this edition of Smoke Signals.

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Meerkats at Keurbooom

On a sunny spring morning in November 2020, eight eager Meerkats with their fathers or mothers met at Keurboom Park for an adventure. They had a map and had to negotiate tricky bridges, count distances, and climb trees. On the way back they picked up unusual items they found. It was meant to be leaves and feathers, but some keen-eyed Meerkats found the brightly decorated stones that are hidden in the Park. Afterwards, we shared a picnic together.

Together with learning about compasses and making a survival kit, this activity qualified the Meerkats for their first Challenge Badge – the Scoutcraft Adventure Badge. The picnic was also one of the Den Outings for the Bronze Star. Everything Meerkats do has a purpose!

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Cubs clean up the Liesbeek

In February a group of Cubs and parents took part in the monthly river cleanup with Friends of the Liesbeek near the River Club. This was part of the #BetterWorldForBP challenge where each Cub was challenged to collect one bag of refuse during February.

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Laura and Julia tell us about the troop expedition

Laura H says: At the end of last year, we went on an expedition in small groups, for three days. On the first day we did community service, at Glen Cairn, for Simon’s Springbok. We did activities, including pulling up alien plants. On the second day, we did a photo hunt at Greenpoint, and went down to the beach to explore the rock pools. We went to Appleton campsite, located on Signal Hill, and built shelters for the night. In the morning we packed up and went on a hike to Elephant’s Eye, and then down to Silvermine Dam.

Julia was in another patrol and did a different sequence:

At the end of last year we went on a 3 day expedition in small groups. On the first day we went to Greenpoint and did a photo hunt and then went down to the rock pools and explored them a bit. That evening we went up to Appleton campsite on Signal Hill and built shelters that we slept in. In the morning after breakfast, we packed up and went to Tokai Forest where we started a hike and ended it at Silvermine Dam. The next day we did community service for Simon’s Springbok, at Glen Cairn. We pulled up alien plants and did other things around the site.

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Making First Aid Kits

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I recently was able to attend the national Scout Legotla which happens every three years. As a Group in good standing we are entitled to send a delegate and because the Legotla was online, we managed to get two attendees. It was a worthwhile morning spent online and there were many interesting discussions and points made.

During the course of the conference someone remarked that scouts was the biggest youth organisation that no-one has heard of. It was a telling remark. Almost every scouter has at some point encountered the comment “Scouts? Are they still around?” followed usually by reminisces of when the speaker or someone he or she knows was in scouts. There are many strands to be teased out of these remarks but for the purposes of this reflection, we can ponder how this has become the lot of scouts.

It is not as if we do not get some exposure. Scouts regularly appear on SABC (mind you, that might not count for much!), the national and regional websites are active with some excellent articles regularly posted on them. Scouts are active on social media. We do public activities (one of our recent pioneering projects took place in Keurboom Park and Rebecca’s Springbok Pioneering Project in Keurboom Park attracted enormous attention from passers by). Our parents are generally enthusiastic about the benefits scouts gives to their children and our scouts are enthusiastic about scouting in general.

Maybe one part of why we are the biggest youth organisation that no-one has heard of is not just a marketing question. It is maybe that scouts has not truly understood how to position itself in a country of such disparity. We may be surrounded by excellent academic institutions but for the majority of our fellow scouts they have no such options – their schools have poor infrastructure, poor teaching and poor facilities. Scout groups in these areas are hardly in a better position than the schools – a hike on Table Mountain is far removed from anything that they have the transport or money to do. While scouts is actually generally reflective of the overall demographic of the population, as an organisation, scouts has failed to move from middle class comfort to confront the very challenging conditions of becoming a true youth movement in a country where the socio-economic disparities result in a disconnect between the haves and have-nots. There is much we can learn from our brother and sister scouts, not only in our country but in the rest of Africa. Until we, as a national organisation, embrace this disparity and forge better understanding and co-operation between all of us, we are unlikely to understand how we can adapt and appeal to the broader society.

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