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Cub Pack’s voices heard again

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The Cub Pack of the 1st Kirstenhof Sea Scout Group. PHOTO: Nettalie Viljoen
The Cub Pack of the 1st Kirstenhof Sea Scout Group. PHOTO: Nettalie Viljoen

“I promise to do my best – to do my duty to God and my country; to keep the law of the Wolf Cub Pack and to do a good turn to somebody every day.”

For the first time in almost 30 years, the Cub promise is once again being heard in the Kirstenhof area. Gathered on the lawn outside the Tokai Methodist Church on Thursday 23 November, the newest members of the 1st Kirstenhof Sea Scout Group recited this well-known promise after their “investiture” – a ceremony where the members of the Cub Pack get to put on their uniforms for the first time and become a part of the Pack.

Angela Lee-Wright, Scout Group Leader of the 1st Muizenberg Sea Scout Group, says the last group to operate in Kirstenhof closed in the 1990s. She says for years, the closest two groups were those in Muizenberg and Bergvliet.

“Richard Steinhofel, past Akela of 2nd Bergvliet, and I could see there was a big demand in the area so we decided to reopen 1st Kirstenhof. Our group (1st Muizenberg) has a two-and-a-half-year waiting list for Cubs, as does 2nd Bergvliet, so we are well aware of the growing interest in the area,” she says.

One Facebook post and lots of intense planning later, the 1st Kirstenhof Sea Scout Group officially opened their doors with 28 members – ranging in ages from seven to 10 – and six adult volunteers, collectively making up the Adult Leaders and Group Committee.

Lee-Wright shares that it is easy to find children to join Scouts. In fact, the 1st Kirstenhof, which has only been in operation for two months, already has a waiting list of 20 children. Finding adults willing to commit their time is the hard part.

“You can’t open a Scout group without the dedication of the adults.”

She says Scouts SA is very strict on how they select their adult volunteers seeing that they work with children.

“Child safety is of paramount importance. They have a stringent child protection policy in place and all adult volunteers have to get a police clearance and go on extensive training before interacting with the children.”

Another misconception, she says, is that Scouts is a business. “It is not run for profit. All those involved in a group are volunteers. It is run by parents and interested adults to cater to the skills and development of the children in the community,” she adds.

Scouts SA focuses on four areas of development – community, awareness, outdoor, and aptitude. Ryan Fulton, who is the leader (aka Akela) of the 1st Kirstenhof Cub Pack, says what drew him to become involved was the opportunity to give back to his community.

The qualified nature guide and father of two says the weekly meetings and planned excursions are something the Cubs can look forward to and can actively engage in.

“Scouts SA has a very structured programme – it teaches discipline, morals, values – and it is a great learning experience as well. It teaches them to engage with each other as part of a group but also how to appreciate each other as individuals,” says Fulton.

1st Kirstenhof Scout Group Leader, Neil Kohler, says although the benefits to the children are huge, adults shouldn’t discount the value it also holds for them.

Kohler, who is a wellness consultant by profession, says not only do adults get to interact with their kids in a highly valuable way, but there is great opportunity for personal growth as well.

“Scouts offer a lot of adult leader training as well as personal development training. Many adults no longer have the opportunity to go out and have adventures while making a difference in the world. And to be able to do that while spending quality time with your kids – you can’t put a value on that.”

Next year, the 1st Kirstenhof Sea Scout Group hopes to start up the Scout Troop (children aged 11 to 17). But the pace at which this will be accomplished will largely depend on them finding a larger, affordable space.

“For the time being, we are operating from the Tokai Methodist Church, but it is not big enough for when we have to expand. We need a safe, indoor venue with an outdoor space, ideally with a hall, available on a Tuesday from about 17:00 to 22:00 but we are flexible.”

He adds that, as they expand, they will need more adult leaders or parents who want to get involved and join them.

“It is an incredible achievement to have created this space. It is only when you see the smiles on the kids’ faces, and see the parents loving what their children are doing through the Scouts system, that you truly understand the value it brings to the community.”

Elsa Eksteen, the group committee member responsible for fundraising, says the 1st Kirstenhof Sea Scout Group is purely being run off donations and sponsorships.

“Fees only cover a small portion of the equipment we need in order to expand and become a fully functioning Scout group. We are calling on the community – businesses and individuals – to reach out to us.”

V For details, email 1stkirstenhof@gmail.com. To contact Elsa Eksteen, email fundraising@1stKirstenhof.com

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