Carveth Geach

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Born in Johannesburg in 1928, Carveth Geach attended Jeppe Boys' High School, after which he qualified as an attorney, in which profession he became outstandingly successful. After leading the BK Rover Crew he soon became involved in the wider regional and national aspects of Scouting and, after serving on the National Scout Council, was elected Chief Scout in 1969, a position he held with distinction until 1973.

For most Chief Scouts the position is essentially one of being reactive - maintaining intact the fabric of the Movement as society changes, although perhaps with here and there some fresh element. What Carveth will be remembered for, however, is his role as an experimenter and innovator. Let me mention three examples. He had always believed that the sharp split between the Scouts and the Guides was much to be regretted. Hence the introduction during his period as Chief Scout of a series of Scout-Guide camps in such wonderful places as the Natal Drakensberg and Phalaborwa, on the edge of the Kruger National Park. Although greatly enjoyed by all who attended, these camps unfortunately did not outlive his period as Chief Scout. Then there were the Pitso's, camps at which would be sought the views of Scouts - not Scouters! - from all over Southern Africa on a wide variety of issues relating to present and future Scouting. The first of these was held in the grounds of Modderfontein Dynamite Works in 1973 and, as those of us who were present will recall, it was an unqualified success. At least one more was held two years later. Finally, in those years of Grand Apartheid, Carveth decided that not only should Scouts work with Guides, but they should also meet the Voortrekkers. He therefore met the then head of that movement, Prof. Boshoff, to explore the issue. At first our overtures were met with warmth and we all hoped that some form of joint activity might come of the talks. However, suddenly and tragically the talks were terminated and Carveth and I gained a strong impression that orders had come from the very highest quarters in the land that the Voortrekkers should drop the matter. But there was much else besides: Carveth's major role in the Quo Vadis initiative of 1977 (the crucially important "think tank" that was so important in, amongst other things, bringing about a unified Scout movement in South Africa); his seminal role in the acquisition and development of Camp Korhaan, on the banks of Vaal Dam, his crucial role in setting up and running the Jubilee Trust, which he chaired from 1992 until his death. His commitment was indeed memorable.

A final note. Throughout his Scouting career Carveth was ably supported by his wife Mary and many were those, including most richly my wife Celia and myself, who benefited from their warm hospitality both at their home in Bedfordview and their Bushveld game farm, Ntakobusi. Car, you have Gone Home, but your contributions to Scouting in South Africa will be your memorial.

Peter Spargo
Scouting About, Summer 2004/2005