Senior Scout Adventure: 1994 Cederberg
11th National Senior Scout Adventure – 1994
Report by Sunday Argus, January 1995
PATROL 34 had just spent their third night in the Cederberg Wilderness, camped at Kromrivier, when Roger woke to find a puffadder making itself comfortable beside him. He leapt up yelling, waking everyone else in the tent. Anyone with a few aches from horse riding for the first time the day before, or from their hikes over the hard-baked Cederberg terrain didn't have much time to lie around ruminating on their woes. They made a hasty retreat, arguing about what to do. They were moving on to a new base that day, but another Patrol would be arriving to stay the next night, and a sleeping snake might prove a bit too much of a surprise to leave for them. After a few lessons in snake psychology they managed to get rid of their unexpected visitor, and start on their way to the next base on their itinerary, Marksmanship. There followed an afternoon shooting handguns at tin gongs, 0,22s at silhouette targets, and shotguns at clay pigeons. Afterwards they made camp at Sanddrif, and went on to an evening talk and slide show on the night sky at the nearby observatory, all in a day's adventuring. Serious adventuring.
Patrol 34, made up from lads from Scout Troops in Brackenfell and Mossel Bay, was one of 48 patrols that took part in the 11th Senior Scout Adventure in December. An event held every two years, it involved nearly 500 Scouts between the ages of 14 and 18 spending 12 days moving around 21 different bases situated all over the Cederberg. At each of the bases, the Scouts had the opportunity to take part in one of a range of activities, which included not only familiar Scouting skills like Dutch oven cooking and survival, sports such as archery and canoeing, but such thrills and spills as paintball games, assault courses, water skiing and flying. That such a dynamic event could have been realised is tribute to the quiet efficiency and bold vision of the Scout organisation. In these days of brazen marketing and survival by competition, the Movement does not seek much publicity or aggressively advertise its aims and beliefs, yet the quality of the opportunities it offers, the breadth of its appeal, and the lasting effect it has on those it touches all speak of a very real value.
Few can honestly find much to say against Scouting - the most damning criticism one will hear is that "it wasn't for me". With 150 older Scouts and leaders volunteering their time to run the bases or the various components of the adventure, and various sponsorships and trusts giving the event a financial leg-up, the self-perpetuating enthusiasm and inherent worthiness of Scouting prove the catalysts to the adventure's popularity. Standing contemplating the imposing Cederberg mountains, at once so jaggedly harsh and serene, the only movement I could see was a few figures along a track. A Patrol on the move, they came passed smiling through grimy faces, each wearing a battered green Scout cap at a rakish angle against the sun. "Hi guys, where have you come from?" A couple of browned arms pointed upwards. "Sneeuberg. The mountaineering base. On our way to HQ." "Doing OK?" "Pete has got blisters. We've only had packet soup to eat all day. But yes." Weary Pete looked up from behind a tilted water bottle and grinned. He put down the water bottle. "We're doing the treasure diving tomorrow," he announced confidently, "and there's a food pick up at HQ on the way through." As we spoke one of the adventure trucks came bouncing along the road followed by a cape of orange dust. The back was full of rucksacks and piled bodies. As they slowed down the same questions I had asked were exchanged. This bunch were on their way up to Clanwilliam to go canoeing. "Having fun?" I asked them as well. Grubby T-shirts being used to shade dozing faces were lifted up. "Too right."
Sticking out one long hike over the hot Cederberg terrain would normally be more than enough to sort out the men from the boys; 12 days together as one patrol, carrying all their own food and equipment, and finding their way from one base to the next, was doing some rigorous examination. Where everyone is sharing in the tough times as well as the thrills, divisions of upbringing and background, which society so readily brings to the fore in other situations their youngsters commonly face, become a lot less apparent. Here were lads from all over the country, cities, farms, townships and rural areas, of different colours, languages and lives, equalised by a mountain, a long walk, or a shared adventure.
Each Patrol followed a careful organised itinerary, ensuring that they were able to get to as wide a selection of activities as possible. After their evening star-gazing Patrol 34 spent the next day diving for cold drink cans with air provided through tubes by a compressor, an experience not dissimilar to scuba diving. Later in the week they were due to go rock-climbing, to a base where they would make a small transistor radio, and to fly in tiny two-seater trainer aircraft from the Clanwilliam airstrip. After a long-anticipated braai at the Water Activities base, the patrol had a day trying parasailing, windsurfing, water skiing and sailing. You began to get the feeling that from all the new experiences to be retold back home, there were going to be some parents just as exhausted as the boys. At the water activities base the bunch from Brackenfell met a patrol of mentally handicapped Scouts from Mitchells Plain.
Accompanied by four leaders, their handicaps were not such as to prevent them from fully taking part in the Adventure programme, and they were obviously having a wonderful time doing it. Some of the organisers had had reservations about their ability to cope, but the Scouts had always shown themselves eager, and even in some moments of anxiousness, like having to spend a night up on the mountains between bases, able to deal with all the challenges they faced.
For Patrol 34, it was an immediate introduction to one of the adventure's more interesting activities, which they were to encounter a couple of days later. Entitled "Handicapped Awareness", it was intended to give the Scouts a chance to realise just what having a handicap can involve. The Scouts were put in pairs, with one "handicapped" by having his leg in a cast and the other blindfolded. They then had to get each other around an obstacle course which involved gates, rivers, and tall rocks.
The switch from what many expected to be a boring lecture into a highly practical problem highlighted not only the difficulties of disabilities, but also the resourcefulness involved, as they discovered that though some tasks seem daunting, they can still be done. It was a message at the heart of the whole adventure: that behind its appealing itinerary, it allows its participants to find themselves succeeding in the challenges they encounter.
The real, raw enthusiasm of the boys all around the adventure, whether cooking a three-course meal in Dutch ovens, rasping along a jeep track on a mountain bike, or stepping tingling from an aeroplane flight, was hiding little.
Report by the 2nd Bergvliet Patrol
A month before the Adventure, the Patrol - Rory Berry (PL), Sawas Bizinos, David Glass, Gunther Henshilwood, Craig McKune, Neil Shelly, Philip Solomon and Mark Langley, together with Nigel Forshaw, the Expedition Leader, met and decided which activities and hiking routes we would do.
We left the Good Hope Centre at 7am to be taken on a four-hour bus ride to the Cedarberg. We arrived at Camp Headquarters and after the opening ceremony, fetched our food, sorted it out and put our 5 day rations into our rucksacks. At 4.30pm we left HQ and hiked along the Sanddrif River towards Welbedacht Kloof. We stopped and made supper at about 6.45pm and then started up Welbedacht Kloof, walking in the moonlight. Near the top we found the Cave and went to be straight away, nearly 10pm.
We woke up early, had oat-so-easy and started the steep ascent to the top of Tafelberg. Just below the top was the Rock Climbing Base. We climbed up the rock face, traversed across a gap between the two rocks and abseiled back down again After our adrenaline rushes had stopped, we hiked down and had lunch. It was very hot so we only started hiking again at 2pm. Late that afternoon we arrived at Langkloof, The Foxhunting and Electronic Base.
After breakfast and two hours of soldering, our radios were finished and we started the second half of the Base - fox-hunting. We had to find 4 "foxes" by using an antenna and radio equipment.
Later in the afternoon we left for the Mystery Mountain Biking Base.
At the Mystery Mountain Biking Base we did orienteering on the mountain bikes that were provided. At 11 am we left Eselbank and stated on our first big hike - up Eselbank se Hoek, past Crystal Pool, to Middleburg hut where we spent the night.
We went down the mountain and ended up on the road that goes through Algeria Forest Station. After this 28 km hike we were glad to be picked up by a truck and dropped off at the Flying Base on the edge of a dam. Here we swam while we waited for the wind to drop. Later we each had a turn flying in a two-seater Cub, in which we were allowed to steer for part of the flight Later we were taken to the Water Activities Base where we were issued with chicken, tomatoes, bread, watermelon etc Neil and Nigel braaied the chicken while the rest of us dozed off.
In the morning we went water-skiing and parasailing. In the afternoon we windsurfed. Mid afternoon transport came and we were taken to the Canoeing Base. We cooked our "Wonderfood" - dehydrated cottage pie - which did not taste wonderful!
At the Canoeing Base we did an obstacle in two-man canoes and at mid-day we paddled, with our rucksacks in the canoes, to the pick-up point upriver. We were taken to the Marksmanship Base, where we used shotguns to shoot down clay pigeons.
We hiked from the Marksmanship Base on Pienaarsvlakte to Krom River and the Horse-riding Base, run by Gunther's parents. That afternoon we went for out horse trail safari, after we had got used to riding our horses in the arena. We slept at Krom River
Today we hiked up Krom River Pass and were transported from the top to Eikeboom. From here we started hiking towards Sneeuberg and reached Sneeuberg Hut at 12.30pm and ate lunch. After a rest we hiked on towards the Maltese Cross. We unpacked our unwanted kit below the saddle and hid it under a rock and continued hiking up the highest mountain in the Cedarberg Range, Sneeuberg, to the Mountaineering Base. We hiked up a path that was not very well defined and got to our overnight campsite about two and a half hours later. Here we organised our sleeping places by putting rocks on the edge of flat boulder on which we had to sleep. At 6.30pm we left from 60m below the top of Sneeuberg and scrambled up the rocks to get to the summit, Here we saw the magnificent view - Tafelberg, Citrusdal, Clanwilliam Dam and the whole Cedarberg Mountain Range.
At 6am the Astronomy Base people took a photo of us on the summit of Sneeuberg from Dwarsrivier 14 km away. We could hear the photographer click his camera over the radio connection. Luckily the clouds around Table Mountain had cleared away and we could see her in the distance. We then hiked down Sneeuberg, past the Maltese Cross and finished at Sanddrif. The Diving Base was at Maelgat and here we went diving with a compressor pumping air to us through a special re-inforced hosepipe. That evening we went to the Astronomy Base
We hiked to Camp Headquarters at and had a campfire in the evening
After the Closing Ceremony, we helped pack equipment into the lorries and then left for home