I have always had a penchant for camping. The rougher, the better. From spending all day swimming in a local dam with the hot African sun beating down to gazing at the wide expanse of blue heavens under the welcoming shade of towering blue gum trees. Navigating sharp rocks at a river crossing and walking barefoot on gravel roads, with orange dust-encrusted thighs and a dry breeze caressing one's face. Those are some of my most treasured childhood memories. So do I want to go camping? Are you kidding? I'm in. Always!
So when I was informed that I could take part in running a Cub Camp, I couldn't wait to go on an adventure with all the Cubs and adults that I have grown so fond of! It was really great working with, not only 1st Muizenberg Pack Scouters, but also with Michelle and Matt from 1st Meadowridge, and Kevin (Rikki) from 1st Rondebosch, as I gained much insight into what goes into planning a camp (wow, by the way, it is very involved). The 1st Muizenberg Pack was joined by 1st Meadowridge and 2nd Kenridge Cubs, so we were a lovely mix of Sea, Air and Land groups.
Cub Camp really is the epitome of an Adventure Camp where the kids just have fun all day, while learning so much! Four new interest badges EACH by the way, and loads of advancement.
Back 2 Basics in Grabouw sounded like a little piece of heaven with all the right ingredients, including a dam, a river, a large area to walk around teeming with life and a veritable symphony of outdoor sounds. Not only were the surroundings INCREDIBLE but, all our food would be cooked for us AND the tents had already been pitched, so all the hard work was done right? All I had to do was pitch up and run some fun activities with the kids, among them, American Line Dancing to Achy Breaky Heart (yes please!) - Shane and Brandon, Kayley knows this song very well so your secret is out!
Lisa (Akela), Liam, Kathryn and I set off to camp at 7am on Saturday morning, making very sure to stop for a coffee break on the way. We arrived in good time and were greeted by a beautiful sight. Back2Basics really is a spectacular venue as you can see from the pictures.
The Camp was opened with Grand Howl and an introduction to the adult leaders (we even had an Akela called Baloo as you can’t have 2 Akelas at the same time) and the fun began!
The theme this year was Around the World in 80 Days and travel we certainly did. The Cubs were divided into different countries, namely Japan, England, USA, South Africa, Italy and France.
One of the Interest Badges that they worked on was the Cooking Interest Badge. The Cubs all cooked most of their own meals with the help of a few very capable 1st Meadowridge dads who did some of the prep. The Scouters were well looked after by our very own Scout Group Leader, Farrel, and the rest of the October family. Every meal was based on a country as follows:
Italy - Stuffed Cheesy Pitas
The Cubs chose their own ingredients for their cheesy pitas and ensured that they will securely wrapped in foil before being cooked over the fire.
South Africa - Chicken Potjie
The Cubs did a lot of their own prep with the potjie as one of the Bases that the Scouters ran was a prep base.
Japan - Sandwich Sushi
One of the dads provided an excellent demonstration on how to create sandwich sushi and the Pack did very well in following his instructions.
USA - Billy Can Fry Up
The Cubs chose their own ingredients for the billy cans and placed them into a dutchie filled with water which poached their eggs. The dutchies were supervised by the dads.
England - Bangers and Mash
The Cubs were supposed to cook this themselves but we ran out of time with all the activities and advancement that took place.
France - Crepes (well flapjacks, but close enough)
Now here is the thing about Cub Camp, there is no time for rest. The programme moves from one activity to the next non-stop until bedtime! This is for safety reasons, as the Cubs need to be occupied so that no injuries occur. I am afraid to say, that even though I was dubbed with the nickname "the Energizer Bunny" due to my excitement leading up to the camp, I did not quite live up to it. By the evening, I looked like I had not slept for days, a fact that Akela will remind me about for years, I suspect!
A great deal of advancement was covered and we focused on 4 main interest badges. We went on 2 night hikes, Sky Gazing (I finally know how to find the Southern Cross) and Night Orienteering. As Rohan was voted to be our group's leader, we were regaled by many Lord of the Ring references by our guide, which most of the kids didn’t get, but certainly made me chuckle.
On the first day, the Cubs participated in a raft building activity with the Guides from Back to Basics and got to go for a paddle on the raft afterwards! This was great for our Cubs who have been to Kontiki or have yet to attend as it gives them an idea of what to look forward to when they go up to Scouts.
Lisa (Akela) ran a scavenger hunt and Alys (Darzee) and I ran a plaster casting base in aid of the Nature Craft badge. Martin (Kaa) provided a wonderful Flying Models base, which focuses on kites, gliders and safety rules. When the Cubs went to test their kites, it was reminiscent of the parks of yesteryear when there was very little access to electronics. The Scouters and Scouts relaxed in the warm, late afternoon sun on the rolling green grass, while some Cubs flew kites and others started up a game of soccer. This really was a highlight for me as it reminded me that this is something uncommon in the life of children of today. There was much laughter to be had and I felt a great sense of contentment.
On both nights, the Cubs did not want to sleep! They sat up chatting into the night while munching on forbidden snacks that somehow got smuggled in. Albeit the second night was far quieter than the first.
Another highlight of the camp were the two obstacle courses run by Back2Basics, namely the Time Trial and Low Ropes, which focused on Team Work and Leadership skills. Needless to say that the Cubs had a ball! We were even treated to a demonstration of the Black Magic Trick which we may demonstrate at one of our meetings for those who are interested.
Campfire was a delight, of course! Hot Chocolate and marshmallows were the order of the day with a combination of hilarious skits and the sweet, young voices of sleepy Cubs singing traditional campfire songs drifting up into the night sky. Rikki ended his fantastic programme with a thought-provoking yarn and B-P Spirit.
I simply do not have the words to express what an amazing programme Cubs is for children, and the Cub Camp just puts the cherry on the top. From the feedback we received from some parents, the Cubs were exhausted when they got home, and I can tell you, I have not slept this well in years after last weekend!
I still have my heart set on getting my Camping License (perhaps I am mad) as I am certainly a little more in awe of the amount of hard work and dedication that goes into organizing such an event, especially from volunteers who work day jobs.
It is truly an honour and a privilege to work with this amazing group of adults and children and I look forward to the years ahead!