Since the founding of scouts in 1908, scouts has been short of adult volunteers. Many Groups have closed due to the lack of adults. The shortage of adults has resulted in poor outcomes for both scouts generally and for the adults. One of these outcomes has been a failure of standards as they apply to adults. Scouts generally has been willing in the past to accept adult volunteers despite failures to attend training courses and be properly qualified.

Over the past few years, we have been strengthening our compliance with new requirements for adult volunteers. This has involved paperwork but has also led to us having adult volunteers completing Wood Badge. Wood Badge is the highest qualification an adult volunteer can achieve. There are three types of Wood Badge (Scout Group Leader, Scout and Cub).

Scouters in the Cederberg

The Wood Badge course teaches a great deal, not in direct instruction but through interaction with other scouters and through the project that is required from each aspirant participant. It requires a significant investment in time and effort from each participant to complete the course, which is the reason that not all participants are likely to finish the course.

In 2018, the Wood Badge course was run for the first time in three years. Three scouters from 1st Claremont joined the course, two on the scout Wood Badge and one on the cub Wood Badge. As we complete the course we have been curious to know how long since a Wood Badge was earned by a scouter at 1st Claremont. Due to a paucity of records both in the troop and at the national level, we are not exactly sure but it appears that the last Wood Badges were earned at 1st Claremont around 1975, some 44 years ago. This makes the earning of three Wood Badges in the Group in one year a significant achievement with advantages for the Group as a whole.

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Rebecca’s Springbok Pioneering Project at Keurboom Park

On 1 June a team of scouts met early at the scout hall to prepare for the building of the Thriftwood Unilock Bridge, otherwise known as the Banana Bridge. We packed all the poles, ropes and general equipment, and set off to Keurboom Park to build the bridge.

There are three stages to this bridge: the pyramids, the assembly and the walkway.

We started off with the pyramids. Two pyramid shapes were built from two pairs of sheer legs each, tied together at the bases with 5m poles. These pyramids formed both the bases for the walkway on either side of the bridge, and the decorative overhead part of the bridge.

The assembly was definitely the most grueling part of the building. Two teams of scouts needed to lift each pyramid at an angle in order for them to lock into each other overhead, above the stream. This took a lot of manpower and time, as well as many nervous minutes where these huge structures were suspended in the air with no support except that provided by the scouts.

The lifting of the two pyramids had to be done twice! The first time, the distance across the river in between the two pyramid bases was too great, and the entire structure needed to be taken down to readjust this distance safely. A few lashings were retied to accommodate the width of the walkway, and the required distance was carefully mapped out before we tried again after our lunch-break.

The second time the lift was attempted, it was successful! After securing the pyramids with pegs and guy-lines, the final stage was ready to begin. The walkway had been built at the same time as the pyramids, and its width now fitted the width of the bridge overhead base.

With much lifting and maneuvering, we got the walkway in between the bases of the pyramids. The trapeze was secured and tightened in the center of the bridge, the guy-lines were tightened, the lashings were checked, the safety checks were completed, and the first hesitant guinea-pig crossed the river using the new bridge. It worked!

The bridge was a result of over 10 hours of hard work from all the scouts. Many scouts learned new pioneering skills over the course of the day, and learned a lot about the workings of a large pioneering build like this one.

The fundraising aspect of the event was equally successful – about R4000 was raised through the pancake selling, thanks to all the customers and donations.

Thanks to all that took part!

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Building Bridges, Breaking Barriers

On the 1st of June 2019, a team of scouts is building a bridge in Keurboom Park. This will be a day of training and achievement, as the scouts learn to tie lashings to the standard that large projects demand.

The project to be constructed is the Thriftwood Unilock Bridge, more commonly known as the Banana Bridge. Its design is unique, made by locking two low pyramids together to create a dome over a walkway.

The team will be led by Rebecca for her Springbok Award.

Model of the Bridge

Although building bridges is a worthy cause for excitement, the day will have yet another aspect that presents an even bigger opportunity.

The bridge is being built in a public place for two reasons: first, in order to publicly advertise Scouting and give people an idea of what we can do.

The second reason is to fundraise for a Community Service Project that Rebecca is running, also for Springbok. She is raising funds for her project of upgrading an aftercare centre in Westbank. This will be done on a donations basis as well as through a stall selling pancakes and hot drinks to passers-by throughout the day. Everyone is welcome!

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Springbok Pioneering with Natasha

On Saturday actually the 13th of April to be precise the troop took part in a construction project run be me. This must not be mistaken for the pioneering project that took place the next day on the Sunday.

We set out to build a mini tower and once we had taken out all the equipment that we needed we ”locked” the basement (it was more like that we weren’t allowed back into the equipment to fetch something that we had forgotten).

We started off and soon full behind with original program. This was due to a small bumps along the way such as lose lashings but these were ironed out and we raised the tower only an hour and a half behind the allocated time. We had time to muck about on the tower (not really but we still did) and it was structurally sound. As I have said before that we were running behind and we lowered the structure we had an hour and fifteen minutes to get everything down and packed away. To my surprise we had everything down with half an hour to spare. That was pretty cool. All in all this day spent making a tower out of poles and rope and then taking it down in the same day instead of doing our homework went really well. The scouts that didn’t know how to tie lashings learnt and the ones that did learnt how to tie tight lashings as we had plenty to go around.

To sum things up I would like to thank everybody who was involved with the construction in anyway. It was greatly appreciated.

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City Nature Challenge

Cape Town is joining the City Nature Challenge for 2019.  Volunteers  from  170  cities worldwide will be recording their animals and plants over 4 days from 26-29 April 2019.  You may hear more of this in the press, perhaps radio and from the City of Cape Town. 

Your reward: Fun, becoming a citizen scientist, putting Scouts SA on the map, contributing to a worldwide nature project, Tonkin Trophy points and an event badge which can be sewn on to a Scout’s uniform.  This is the badge:

Please see where much more information is provided along with extra links too.

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Smoke Signals – First Edition 2019

Since we first published Smoke Signals, far back in the somewhat misty history of 1st Claremont, it has always taken the form of a book. In the old days it was typed by hand and roneod.  Later it was created on personal computers and printed. Later still it was , created as a pdf and emailed or loaded to our website.

Now, we are looking at the next evolution of the venerable publication and we are moving it all onto our website. Our website is one of the most sophisticated scout websites in South Africa. Based on a WordPress platform, the current website was created some 7 years ago. Despite its apparent sophistication, not one line of code has been written. The entire website relies on WordPress and the use of plugins to create, what in scout terms, is an outstanding website.

The site currently has over 100 pages of static information, photo galleries and more occasional posts on events. Moving Smoke Signals to the website will bring greater traffic to our website and make it the focal point of information about the Group. Reports on events, appeals for help and general information will increasingly be placed on the site. As some information is confidential, some pages will require a login to access. Access to the confidential information is carefully controlled and only recognised individuals are granted access (scouts, parents, scouters, alumni).

So  take the time to browse through the very first entirely website based edition of Smoke Signals on the 1st Claremont website.

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Contents – Smoke Signals 2019: First Edition

Instead of a list of contents you can skim this post and click on the articles that interest you. A different way to find content that interests you.


For an exciting overview of what Scouts get up to,  start off by watching what two senior scouts have to say about “A year at 1st Claremont  Scouts” here and here .

Ever wondered what sea scouts do? As a land scout troop we don’t often have people on sea scout courses. But we have in the troop a former sea scout who attends sea scout badge courses such as the Boatswains Badge Course.

The most demanding hike in the Western Cape. Two directions. Up… and Down…. Once every 3 years by invitation only!  Senior Scouts. By the time you are over 15 will you be experienced and fit enough for the Arangieskop Senior Scout Invitational Hike?

With cancellation of the Senior Scout Adventure at the end of 2018, what do you do? You pack your seniors off to hike the Outeniqua and Harkerville Trails on a Senior Scout Hike. And because at the same time as they are hiking, you are helping run an Annual Camp at Appleton (see the Camp Photos here), you send them on their own.

As a land scout troop, hiking is one of our core strengths and something that we take on as a troop. Recent hikes have included the recent Elandspad hike for the whole troop, and the Bats Patrol Hike to the De Villiers Dam.


The Cub Pack has been busy as well:  learning about other cultures, making friends while learning about safety, first aid and BP Day, hiking up to Eagles Nest and camping at camping at Rondevlei, among other exciting things.

Every year Lord Baden-Powell’s birthday is commemorated by scouts around the world. This year Cape Town troops celebrated Founders Day at the Gilray Scout Camp, on the 24th February.


The Annual AGM was well attended: you can read the Scout Group Leader’s Address The Scout Troop Report and The Cub Pack Report here. 


2018 was a big year for the 1st Claremont Scout Troop:  what does 2019 hold for us? Read the Reflections here. 

Upcoming Events

Get a picture of what is coming up in the second term. Hint: It’s busy as always!





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Safety, first aid, snakes, BP Day, more fires and making friends

Some highlights from the first term: snakes, CPR, Liesbeek District campfire, B-P birthday cake, visit from the neighbourhood watch, and a sunset hike at Constantia Nek.

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