Eastern Cape Scouting History
When Scouting started in the early 1900's all the groups in the Cape Province, which stretched all the way to the KwaZulu Natal border, were administered from Cape Town. As the movement grew it was decided in 1927 that the Provincial Organization be ended and a Divisional Organization came into being. The Cape Province was then divided into four separate Divisions:
- Cape Midlands Division, with its headquarters in Port Elizabeth
- Cape Border Division, with its headquarters in East London
- Cape Western Division, with its headquarters in Cape Town
- Cape Griqualand Division, with its headquarters in Kimberley
This record sourced from the Scout Archives follows the history of the Cape Midlands Division, Cape Border Division and their amalgamation together with the Transkei Division to create the Cape Eastern Area.
Cape Midlands Division
1908 - 1919
The origin of the Scout Movement in Port Elizabeth was due to the youths of the town. In June 1908, Master Andrew Wright and Percy Armstrong with a few other youths started a troop on their own account. Their Troop was registered in England, as there was no headquarters in Cape Colony at that time, and it appeared in the "Scout" No. 49 of March, 1909. The members of the Troop were: - Andrew Wright, Robert Atkinson, Willie J. Wright, Sydney Matthews. W. Frost, V. Duncan, K. Vogel, Charlie Wright, and Percy Armstrong who acted as secretary, whilst Andrew Wright was Scoutmaster.
In August, 1909, the Rev. C. H. Clapp formed a troop, which met in the Victoria Hall, and at the request of Mr. Clapp, the two troops amalgamated and formed one troop which did some splendid work among the youth. Their camps went a long way to train the Scouts for "being prepared" for an emergency, by physical development and moral training. Mr. Clapp was the second Scoutmaster warrant to be issued in the then Cape Colony and had a devoted and energetic lieutenant in the person of Scoutmaster Daniels.
By June 1910 the adults had formed a Scout Council / Committee and a number of Scout Patrols / Troops had been formed and the earliest of these were: -
- The Hill - Scoutmaster E P Robertson and S. M. Miles
- Richmond Hill - Scoutmaster Rev. C. H. Clapp
- North End - Scoutmaster S M J Bartlett
- Sydenham - Scoutmaster G. Rowley
- South End - Scoutmaster Rev. Skey
- Walmer - Scoutmaster Rev. H. Mosel
- Children's Home - Scoutmaster Mr T. J. Sumner
and in November 1910, the Troops and Council were registered in Cape Town at the Cape Council H.Q., Sir Edgar Walton was elected President and Mr. D.M. Brown, District Commissioner.
Baden-Powell visited South Africa many times and in August 1912 he stopped over in Port Elizabeth during a world tour to promote the movement and addressed a meeting for local and Uitenhage Scouts.
Scouting was popular and growing rapidly by 1915. In February Miss Dawes of Boys' Preparatory Grey School formed the first pack of Wolf Cubs at the school. She is also recorded as being a Troop Scouter together with Mr W Bradford. By May the first ever Scout Rally was held in Feather Market Hall and in December a Jewish group was formed.
1920 - 1929
The 1920's saw the formation of a number of new groups. St Mary's (1920), Mayo (1920), SOE (Sons of England) (1921), their hall was opened on 28 August 1924 by Sir William Macintosh. It was the second hall specifically for Scouts in the City and Walmer was registered in 1926.
In 1926/7 Sir Robert and Lady Baden-Powell spent seven months touring SA. They travelled 9,498 miles (13,598Km) inspecting Scouts and Guides and promoting the movement. On the 8 February 1927 they paid a visit to Port Elizabeth and attended a Scout Rally at the Crusader Ground. More groups were formed in the late 1920's, Humewood (1927), Port Elizabeth Scottish (1927), and St Columba (1928).
The Midlands Scout Association had been established in 1927 with its headquarters in Port Elizabeth, and the 1928 Midlands Jamboree was to be the first occasion when Scouts from all over the Midlands came to gather together as members of one happy family of Scouting and no longer be isolated units each going its own way without union or co-ordination of effort. In this way the 1928 Jamboree was to be the first birthday of Midlands Scouting and a very great event.
1930 - 1939
In June 1931 en route by sea to Cape Town, BP stopped over for two days in Port Elizabeth to attend a Scouts Own on the Sunday and on the Monday, a Rally in St Georges Park and another on Donkin Reserve before carrying on his journey. Also, in that year St. Augustine's Group was founded.
The decade saw biennial Midlands Jamborees being held in 1930, 1932 in Graaff Reinet and the fourth Midlands Jamboree was held in September 1934 at the Show Yard in Port Elizabeth. It was attended by 230 Scouts and included boys from Steyterville, Cradock, Willowmore, and large contingents from the Transvaal and the Cape. Factory tours were popular and there were visits to Ford and General Motors. There was also High Tea onboard the Mailship 'Warwick Castle' and swimming at Humewood Beach. Scouting activities included a Rover Moot and for the Scouts the Walton Competition. The Jamboree ended at 5.30 in the afternoon to align with the 'Overnight Trains' many would be catching home.
A highlight of the nineteen thirties was the first South African National Jamboree (SANJAMB) that was held in 1936 from 8 - 16 January and East London was the host city. About 3500 Scouts and Leaders attended from every part of South Africa and a large contingent from Cape Midlands participated. The Chief Scout, The Rt. Hon. Lord Baden-Powell of Gilwell, with Lady Olave and their daughters Heather and Betty attended.
In May of 1936 Lord and Lady Baden-Powell paid a brief visit accompanied by Lt. Col. Granville Walton, Imperial HQ Commissioner for Overseas Scouts who had earlier, on 29 February, opened the new camping and training grounds, corner of Main and 14th Ave, Walmer. Algoa Troop was started in the same year.
The Midlands Jamboree for 1938 was held in Cradock 13 - 20 January. It was another very successful event and apart from the normal Scouting activities there were outings to yachting and boating on Lake Arthur and a learning experience at Tarka Training Farm. The local Black Pathfinder Scouts paid them a courtesy visit and found the camp gadgets made from simple sticks most fascinating.
In July 1938 a troop of Scouts attached to the Kshatriya Guajarati Mochi Mandal (Hindu) school was formed under C.K. Pillay. The decade ended with three groups being formed in 1939 - N.E. Methodist, St. Joseph's and St. Cuthbert's.
In the early 1930's Divisional Commissioner Mr. E H Haigh took over from Mr. F E Mann.
1940 - 1949
During the Second World War many of the Scouters and Rovers signed up for active service and those troops with well trained Patrol Leaders were able to carry on with their Scouting activities.
Local camps and competitions were held and the strong groups like the Jewish Troop in 1941 scooped a number of trophies.
After the end of the war Scouters returning from 'Service' were welcomes back and many re-joined their old groups. Some like St Agustines, after a lapse of two years was restarted and soon had 40 Scouts.
New groups in the 1940's were, Newton Park (1946), Salvation Army (Boys Home) and St. Saviour's (1949).
A Cape Midlands Jamborally was held at Willow Grove / The Willows in 1947 and at Urquhart Park, Graaff Reinet in 1949. Seventy Scouts attended the Graaff Reinet event, mostly coming up from Port Elizabeth. The Camp Chief was Mr Birkenshaw.
1950 - 1959
The decade stared off with a number of VIP guests, firstly the Chief Scout Lord Rowallan in March 1950 who attended a Cub and Scout Rally on the Crusader Ground, St George's Park. The following day he joined the Pathfinder Scouts at a gathering in New Brighton. In March of 1952 John Thurman, Camp Chief of Gilwell, England visited and was accompanied by Mr C Rayner, SAHQ Commissioner.
Two Cape Midlands Jamborees were held one in Cradock in 1950 and another in Port Elizabeth in 1955 at the King Edward Park in Walmer, the Camp Chief being "Tiny" R Rex. Other classic Scout events were 'Bob-a-Job' and a lot of organizing to present the popular 'Scout Week' activities and displays, competitions and camps.
The 9th World Jamboree, celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Scouting was held at Sutton Park, England 1 - 12 August 1957. Of the 28 750 participants 380 were South Africans and 14 were from the Cape Midlands. The 98-day adventure (It took 14 days by sea from Cape Town to Southampton) cost £220. The Scout Jamboree incorporated a Rover Moot and Cub Indaba. Before and after the Jamboree the Scouts camped at Gilwell Park and there was an 8 day British and 10 day Continental tour.
As Scouting in the area began to expand the Port Elizabeth District Local Association was dissolved and three separate districts were created, namely Walmer and PE South, PE Central and PE North.
1960 - 1969
In the Nineteen Sixties there were four Districts in the Cape Midlands Division. These Districts and the groups within them were: - PE Newton Park (Mater Dei, Newton Park, Northern's, SOE, St Columba, St Cuthbert's, St Hughes), PE Westways, (Cotswold, 1st Kabega, 2nd Kabega, Sunridge, Westering) PE East and PE North. Scouting was also very active in Uitenhage and Graaff Reinet.
Many groups in the central area of Port Elizabeth began to suffer from the exodus of young adult people to the expanding areas, mainly to the West. The District emptied and groups like St. Mary's, St. Paul's, St. Cuthbert's, Congregational, Jewish, and later, SOE all closed down. This had an effect in Newton Park where St. Hugh's, Mater Dei followed suit while Woodridge adopted its own outdoor youth programme. In 1962 the Mount Pleasant group was formed but it too had closed by 1964.
On the 1st April 1965 the Central District became the Sea Scout District and the groups were; Algoa, Humewood, St Croix and St Pauls.
There was a lot of enthusiasm amongst the Cub and Scout groups as the new suburbs were inhabited by mainly young families. The first hall to be built was 1st Kabega. This was built by way of the committee and Scouts digging the trenches and thereafter a builder was used to finish the hall. To start off 1st Kabega held its meetings in the garage on the property of the Cunningham's. Sheila ran the Cubs and Bill the Scouts.
1st Cotswold and Sunridge Park groups also built their own halls. 2nd Kabega - Sacred Heart were able to use the Catholic Church premises, but later dropped the 'Sacred Heart' when they moved to new premises. Westering also used church premises.
Combined area Cub camps were held at Woodridge school with all the groups joining together and the Scouts doing the cooking. Two Akelas ran all the Cub groups and two Scoutmasters ran the Scouts. They operated the groups regularly on Friday afternoons and Friday nights. The Chinese group really enjoyed the aspect of scouting. As most of the younger children attended the same schools in the areas it was really community efforts for all the groups.
Some of the activates in the early days were, outings on the Apple Express to Loerie, often the Scouts did their outdoor badges camping alongside railway line, Scout camps were also held in the mountains around PE's western areas. One lonely Scout from Graaff Reinet attended the 1963 World Jamboree in Greece.
Other highlights of the sixties were the 1964 Cape Midlands Jamborally at the Marist Bros College, Walmer. Scouts and Scouter's, with local support, from all over the Country participated. The Camp Leader was Ken Smith.
Relationships and interaction with the Girl Guides were good and in 1965 a Scout and Guide Adventure camp was held in the Hogsback.
1966 was the 50th anniversary of Cubbing and on the 22 October in the City Hall all the Cub Packs from the area took part in a pantomime entitled 'Cubarama' telling the story of Cubbing from 1916 to 1966.
The decade ended with a visit from Ralph Reader famous for his 'Gang Shows' in London and soon after the Midlands held their own Scout Show '69.
1970 - 1979
In the early 1970's the Midlands Division consisted of the following Districts and the Groups within them:- Newton Park (Delphi Hellenic, Mater Dei, Newton Park, Northerns, St Columba, St Cuthbert's, St Hughes, SOE), Sea Scouts (Algoa, Humewood), Walmer (Aloe, Walmer, Jewish), Westways (Cotswold, 1st Kabega, 2nd Kabega, Sunridge, Westering), and Country (Graaff Reinet, Grahamstown, Uitenhage).
The decade started with the 1971 Join in Jamborally in Graaff Reinet that included the local troop's Diamond Jubilee. Scouts attended a number of National events including, the RSA Festival Jamborally in Cape Town, the 'Cederberg Adventure', Camp Korhaan and six Scouts attended the World Jamboree in Japan along with Scouters Colin Stretton and Martin de Bruyn. Colin and Dan Radebe were able to chat to Neil Armstrong during his surprise visit to the South African Campsite. A very successful combined Guide/Scout camp was held at Humewood at which 156 Scout and 130 Guides took part.
Fifty-two Cub Scouters from all over South Africa and Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) including eight from Cape Midlands Division, gathered at Port Elizabeth over the Easter weekend for the 1973 Cub Pow-Wow which was officially opened by our new Chief Scout, Mr. Charles Martin.
During the September 1973 school vacation, a party of 27 Port Elizabeth and Uitenhage Scouts hiked from Grahamstown to Port Elizabeth, taking as their route the old Settlers' Trail. The first day was one long slog but from the second day the trail became more interesting, passing through Sidbury Park and the following day the patrols found signs of the old wagon tracks deeply cut into the limestone surface by the early settlers' wagons. An interesting and original route for the Toughees Hike Competition. After covering the 166 Km each Scout received a specially endorsed Toughees Certificate.
Tiny Packwood started to work at Area Headquarters in 1974 and eventually became the Area Secretary with relief work in between until the 1990's. It is thanks to Tiny's gathering and collecting of archive material that it has been possible to publish this history of the Area. In 2017 Tiny left Port Elizabeth and has settled in Bloemfontein near her son.
In 1975 the 14th World Jamboree was held in Lillhammer, Norway and the Midlands was represented by Scouters Colin Stretton, Danny Barth, Bruce Maree and eight Scouts. The 330-person South African Contingent would appear to be the largest flown over to a Jamboree in a chartered Jumbo Jet. The Jamboree was preceded by a tour through France, Belgium and Holland. Germany included a cruise down the Rhine and then on to Switzerland before a week's 'Home Hospitality' in Denmark. The South Africans enjoyed hiking in the mountains in international patrols and the less strenuous fun at the Jamboree Country Fair.
The Cubs were also very active holding in 1976 a Divisional Cub Camp at Hobbiton in the Hogsback which was attended by 170 Cubs.
In the mid-seventies 'Gilsands', the camping and training grounds was taking shape with a lot of effort being put in by Bill 'Sparkes' Hodges. The official opening of Gilsands took place on Saturday 21st May 1977 and was attended by Cubs, Scouts, Scouters, parents, lay members and friends. Councillor Alan Ward-Able representing His Worship the Mayor and City Council after a short speech, officially declared the complex open.
Four separate Midlands Divisions became one Area
Prior to 1977 there were four separate divisions for Coloureds, Africans, Indians and Europeans and in 1977 the decision was taken to merge the four associations. The Divisions became an Area and within the Area there was a realigning of the Districts to accommodate the merge. In 1978 the four new Districts in Port Elizabeth were: -
- PE South - Previously Walmer District with 7 groups
- PE West - Previously PE North District with 9 groups
- PE North - Previously Coloured Division with 7 groups
- PE East - Previously African division
and in the countryside,
- Uitenhage - with 2 groups
- Grahamstown - with 1 group
- Graaff Reinet - with 1 group
The decade ended with the 1979 Iran World Jamboree being cancelled and replaced with options of attending Jamborees in either Australia, Switzerland or the USA. Two Scouts from St Columbia attended the 12th Australian / 4th Asia Pacific International Scout Jamboree at Perry Lakes outside Perth and the Jamboree was preceded by a three-week tour of Australia.
Five Scouts went to the USA Jamboree and their tour started in Rio de Janeiro and from there the contingent flew to the 'wonders' of New York. There was 'Home hospitality' in Denver before arriving at the Philmont Scout Ranch where they spent twelve days camping, hiking and attending various activity bases. This was followed by visiting a number of National Parks and Sites like the Grand Canyon before returning to South Africa.
1980 - 1989
The first PLTC (Patrol Leaders Training Course) was held in December 1981 at the Gilsands Training Campsite. Under the leadership of Bill Hodges, the 28 Scouts of all races were guided for the first two days by Brian Dibben of Natal's Lexden, the pioneer site of Scout training. The training of Adult Scouters in the Midlands was in the very capable hands of tutors with many years of experience.
The National 75th Anniversary celebration of Scouting took place in Port Elizabeth 2 - 9 April 1982 at the Gilsands Training grounds. The opening weekend was a hive of activity with the National Scout Council, who were holding their meeting at a local hotel popping in on the Saturday afternoon to join the anniversary celebrations. Sixteen Cub packs participated by holding a camp over the weekend and put on various displays for the visitors to admire. A highpoint was the Pageant on the Saturday afternoon and afterwards the visitors toured the campsites. The visiting patrols spent the following week sightseeing.
Midlands participants to overseas Jamborees had an experience of a lifetime. In 1981 there was a three Scout contingent to the International American Jamboree and one Scout to the International Canadian Jamboree with sightseeing tour included. 1983 was the 15th World Jamboree in Canada and three Scouters Danny Barth, Martin de Bruin, Theo Rijs and nine Scouts attended. Participants in the 1988 World Jamboree in Australia were Scouters Bruce Maree, Martin de Bruyn and seven Scouts.
The Jamboree on the Air, known by its acronym JOTA, is an international Scouting and Guiding activity held annually on the third weekend in October. Amateur radio operators from all over the world participate with Scouts and Guides to teach them about radio and to assist them to contact their fellow Scouts and Guides by means of amateur radio.
Over the years Midlands has regularly participated in JOTA and the 1988 event was part of a huge Communications Fair that was held at Gilsands. The participants were given a 'Challenge Card' and could then visit the various activities and tick off their card to win a badge. Some of the organisations that came to communicate were: - Deaf Association, Animal Welfare, Civil Defence, Xhosa culture, Blind Society and Dela Motors used the event to launch their Opel Cub.
Byron Dawood in early 1988 became the first Coloured Scout from Port Elizabeth's northern areas to achieve the Springbok Scout badge. He was a member of St Rita and the first in the groups eleven-year history to get this honour.
As the 1980's came to an end there was consensus that it would be advantageous for the Cape Midlands Area, centred around Port Elizabeth, the Cape Border Area, centred around East London and the Transkei Division to merge and pool their resources. This did not mean losing their identity, heritage or long-standing events like competitions as they would now be a separate Region.
Consequently, on January 26 1992 Cape Midlands, Cape Border and Transkei dismantled their respective boundaries and amalgamated to form the new Cape Eastern Area. The National Scout Council meeting at Gilglen Pretoria confirmed the union and appointed Dr NeviIIe Wilson as Area Commissioner of the new Area.
The Cape Midlands Badge as it evolved over the years.
Cape Border Division
The Scout archives regrettably has little on record of the start of Scouting in East London and the surrounding areas. One can however assume that it followed a similar pattern to those in other parts of the country and that there where in the early days a number of active Scout Groups in what became known as the Cape Border Division. Records do show that a Troop known as Boy Scouts "Cambridge Troop" held their first Troop meeting on Saturday afternoon 29th July 1916 in the Town Hall.
1920 - 1929
The early nineteen twenties saw various competitions being introduced to test the boy's Scouting skills. This has always been an important part of Scouting and the prestigious Border Efficiency Shield was in 1921 held for the first time. It was donated by a Mr G C Schoenegevel of King Williamstown, but it wasn't till 1963 that the King Williamstown troop won it.
Formal meetings were held by the Scouters to discuss organisational issues but throughout South Africa many of the larger centres had Scouty Lunch Clubs where leaders could meet informally to discuss common topics and on occasions have guest speakers. The East London club was founded by Mr Wilson in 1925.
1930 - 1939
A highlight of the nineteen thirties was the first South African National Jamboree (SANJAMB) that was held in 1936 8 - 16 January and East London was the host city. About 3500 Scouts and Leaders attended from every part of South Africa, South West Africa (Namibia), Moçambique and Rhodesia (Zimbabwe). The Chief Scout, The Rt. Hon. Lord Baden-Powell of Gilwell, with Lady Olave and their daughters Heather and Betty attended.
1940 - 1959
The 1957 World Jamboree was called the Jubilee Jamboree as it celebrated Scouting's 50th Anniversary. It was the first time that a Jamboree for Scouts, Indaba for Pack Scouters and Moot for Rovers, was incorporated into one event and referred to as the J.I.M. Jamboree.
There were about 32 Scouts from the Border Division that attended the Jamboree. Also, for the for the first time, Scouts from Indian, Coloured, African and White sections of the SA Scout Movement attended as one Contingent, under the leadership of the SA Chief Scout.
Apart from the Jamboree there were 8-day tours of Britain organised by the British Boy Scout Association and were of a sightseeing and educational nature, travelling as far as Scotland and included places like the Lake Districts. A 10-day Continental tour included visits to Paris, Maastricht, Reims, Brussels and Amsterdam.
Key to any district was to have a suitable camping site for the boys where they could put into practice what they had learned from their weekly meetings before setting off on more challenging activities. The site would also be used for competitions and the running of training courses for Cubs, Scouts and Rovers. The adults too needed a centre for training and both of these requirements were to be found in 'Gilwood' on the then outskirts of East London which opened at the start of the nineteen forties.
Gilwood a thing of Beauty
Ack: Ken Courage, The Border Scout, August 1963
"Of all the many joys that Scouting brings to adults, there are two in particular which never fail to impress me. Both are set in the same surroundings - Gilwood.
How pleasant it is to stand just outside one's tent as the sun comes slowly up over the distant hills in the early morning. It is so peaceful. Then, as the sun's rays gather strength, one hears the distant call of a wild bird as it springs to life and another day is about to begin.
Down among the bushes a thin wisp of blue smoke curls upwards; a small voice can be heard announcing that the coffee is on the fire. Another asks where the sausages are to be found for breakfast while yet another can be heard rousing the rest of the troop, and another day is about to begin.
Then again, how glorious a moment it is when you stand with the boys of all ages around you in the silence of the night with the glowing embers of a camp-fire adding bodily warmth to the warmth of comradeship which has bound everyone so closely together during the songs and pleasantries around the fire; the silence which descends upon the scene after the last dying strains of " The Embers of Camp-fire" have drifted out across the treetops, seemingly to the very stars above.
It is moments such as these which touches one's heart. They also make one very aware of another fact. We in the Cape Border Division are the most fortunate people in South Africa to have at our disposal, that gem of all gems - Gilwood. How right are our many visitors who say with one voice "This is the most beautiful camp in the country. You are very fortunate."
Gilwood was officially opened on May 24, 1940 and was made possible through a grant of land from the Cambridge Municipality and Mr.& Mrs. John Laing, farmers of Elliott.
The Camp was opened by Mrs. Laing. The buildings then consisted of two delightful rondavels, set in the three acres which was Gilwood. In 1942 a kitchen, ablution block and training den was added but in 1954 the National Roads authorities sliced off the corner of the camp on which they stood. In 1944 the storm shelter was built and this, today serve as the outside store.
Tragedy struck in 1952 when a disastrous bush fire destroyed the rondavels but, through the magnificent work of the Border Scout Council, the John Laing Hall was built arid officially opened by the then Chief Scout, Mr. Percy Fowle, on May 31, 1955.
In 1956 the remaining seven acres of land was leased from the Municipality, extending Gilwood to its present 11 acres. The Chapel was opened by Mr. John Carrington and the Chapel Gateway donated by the Rover Scouts".
Sadly in 1991 the municipality approved a squatter camp right next to Gilwood, which was the main campsite for Scouting in the area. This led to an unbearable situation and the movement having to abandon Gilwood - the jewel in the crown of Border Scouting.
1960 - 1969
The nineteen sixties saw the return of holding a National Jamboree and the 1964 South African National Jamboree was held at Chase Valley, Pietermaritzburg, from January 3rd - 13th, and the Border Contingent numbered some 30 Scouts and 8 Scouters. According to their report, the Sports Shield was presented to 1st Cambridge Troop and the Northlands District were the overall winners of the week-end camp.
The village of Hogsback in the Amathole Mountains and the Hobbiton Outdoor Education Centre became a popular base for many Scouting activities. The Border Scouters organised many trips to the centre and these included Cub Camps, Scout Camps and combined Scout and Guide Adventurecamps.
The 1966 Pow Wow was held at Gilwood and celebrated the Jubilee Year of Cubbing. It was attended by 78 delegates and the Camp Leader was Mrs J. Jesson.
1970 - 1991
Continuing into the nineteen seventies were the 'Chief Scout's Invitation Camps' aimed at the older boy and offering a more challenging programme. In 1971 six boys from the Border attended 'Camp Korhaan' on the shores of the Vaal Dam.
The 13th World Jamboree – 'For Understanding', was held in Japan and five Scouts from the Border participated. The Pre-Jamboree tour first took the contingent to Greece, Bangkok, Hong Kong and Taipei before landing in Japan. They then spent 10 days touring Japan experiencing some of the cultural and food traditions. Mount Fuji was the backdrop for the campsite. Perfect weather at the start and finish, but in the middle the fringe of a typhoon struck. Owing to flooding 16 000 Scouts had to be evacuated for 48 hours, but most of the South Africans were on high ground and 'batten down the hatches', staying in camp to experience the storm. The return trip was via Paris and Brussels.
The Border's own Efficiency Shield Competition was often held at the Girl Guide campsite in Stutterheim. The 1973 competition consisted of a tough overnight hike for the older Scouts which included the writing up of a logbook. The usual and more imaginative challenges were dished up for those in camp. Fourteen patrols participated and came from; 1st 2nd 5th 6th Cambridge, 2nd 9th East London, Umtata, Butterworth, Queenstown, Alice, King Williamstown, Gonubie, Nahoon, Selborne and East London Venturers.
In July 1990 Gilwood celebrated it 50th anniversary with a Jamborally that was attended by 160 boys and 90 scouters who came from as far as Cape Town, Pretoria, Ixopo (Natal), Port Elizabeth, Transkei and Ciskei, including the Border area. The week included horse riding, scuba diving, wave skiing, boardsailing, abseiling, archery, nature trails, farming, mural art, and mud wrestling. At night, the scouts could choose to do one of nine arts and crafts courses including woodcarving leatherwork, T-shirt art and stained-glass art.
As the 1980's came to an end there was consensus that it would be advantageous for the Cape Midlands, Cape Border and Transkei to amalgamate and pool their resources and on the January 26, 1992 Cape Midlands, Cape Border and the Transkei dismantled their respective boundaries and combined to form the new Cape Eastern Area.
At the time of the amalgamation the Cape Border Area consisted of fourteen groups these were in the East London area; 1st Cambridge, 6th Cambridge, 9th East London (Scottish), Alphendale, Gonubie, Beacon Bay, Nahoon, and Vincent. The country groups were; 1st Sutterheim, 2nd Stutterheim, 2nd King Williamstown, Barkley East, Fort Beaufort and Queenstown.
Cape Eastern Area
1992 - 1999
On January 26 1992 Cape Midlands, Cape Border (which included the Ciskei) and Transkei dismantled their respective boundaries and amalgamated to form the new Cape Eastern Area. The National Scout Council meeting at Gilglen Pretoria confirmed the union and appointed Dr NeviIIe Wilson as Area Commissioner of the new Area.
Council's decision climaxed a series of informal discussions between the respective Area Commissioners over a period of three years and formal meetings of senior representatives and Training Personnel· from each Area over the past two years.
The dismantling of the three areas and the formation of a new area marked the beginning of a new era in Cape Eastern Scouting. The new Area Commissioner (Dr Neville Wilson) communicated his congratulations to Cape Midlands for "allowing the process to reach its conclusion in such a smooth and cordial manner". Congratulations are likewise extended to all members of Cape Border and Transkei who have encouraged and assisted the process". (Ack: The Eastern Trail)
The initial Area Badge did not include the fleur-de-lis and was redesigned a few years later to reflect Scouting in the greater Eastern Cape.
In May 1992 the Rovers held their National Rover Moot at the Gilsands Training Centre in Port Elizabeth. The event was opened by the Chief Scout and activities included a Civic Reception arranged by the Mayor, a trip on the Apple Express and a formal banquet at Gilsands.
Towards the end of the nineteen nineties Port Elizabeth had about eleven active groups and these were: - Algo Sea Scouts, Cotswold, 2nd Kabega, Lorraine, Newton Park, Sunridge, St Columba, St Croix Sea Scouts, Walmer, Walmer Aloe and Westering. There was also a group in Uitenhage and Graaff Reinet. In East London there were five groups namely: - Cambridge, Beacon Bay, Gonubie, Nahoon and Vincent. Their country groups were 2nd King Williams Town, Fort Beaufort and Barkley East.
2000 - 2009
The ever popular and long running Walton Trophy for 2000 was held as a hike, but with a difference. It was a hike through the streets of PE following part of the heritage trail and visiting some of the big monuments of the town's history. At certain monuments Scouters were waiting to give the scouts a challenge and to really test their scouting knowledge. The hike started in front of the City Hall and the teams had to crack, what some said was a very simple code. At the Donkin Reserve they had to map and plane table the Reserve to scale, Fort Frederick was good old knotting and lashing, Trinder Square they had to use Semaphore to send a message. At the Art Gallery at St George's Park was B P's Life, Promise and Law and finally a 'river crossing' at the War Memorial Fountain in St George's Park.
In June nineteen ninety-nine the Chief Scout announced that the movement was opening its doors to girls and the Algoa Sea Scouts started working towards achieving this. Friday 1 September 2000, National Arbor Day and the first day of spring, will be remembered by the Algoa Sea Scouts Group as a symbol of a new growth, with the investing of four girls into the Cub Pack. They were soon followed when in January 2001 the 1st Sunridge Girl Cub Pack officially started with 6 girls and soon grew to 16.
Skilkana has since its inception in 1988 always been a popular event for Cape Eastern Cubs and Scouts. The first event was part of 1st Uitenhage (SOE) Scout Group's 60th Anniversary and was created by their Troop Scouter Athol Stow. Skilkana is all about fun bases for Cubs and Scouts to test their skills in performing tasks in the shortest possible time, or trying to obtain the highest score. Some bases are more Scouting orientated – such as knots, lashings, lifesaving, Kim's game and billy boiling. Others are pure fun – such as water relay, bean bag relay, chariot race and egg throw. The 2001 Skilkana was a record for attendance with 91 scouts in 15 patrols and 76 cubs in 19 teams.
SANJAMB 2001 was held on the Vaal Dam 10 - 19 December with over 1000 participants and was well supported by the Cape Eastern Scouts. The contingent's report from the Algoa Anchor News and OUTTRAY the Cape Eastern Newsletter recalls - Gladiators, solar cooking, water tube rafting, hiking, orienteering, mountain biking, shooting, sailing, canoeing, water snake, paintball, radio pioneering, obstacle course through the mud, backwoods cooking and even dyeing of hair and T-shirts.
Kontiki for both Scouts and Cubs has always been a fun event and in 2005 the weather was good to all the entrants. It was a beautiful Saturday on the 5th March, 19 rafts were built and floated on the North End Lake, Port Elizabeth. The Kontiki took the form of a rally, where each of the raft crews visited 7 buoys on the lake, each representing a country where they had to note particulars on a map supplied, to prove that they had visited all seven before returning to the start. Unfortunately, some of the sodden maps and some of the rafts did not last the pace and the efficient "rescue" craft were soon in
In 2008 there was an international challenge to 'Clean up the World' and a number of Scout Groups accepted the challenge. It took place on 20th September and was challenge to everyone, not only Scouting, and was well supported by all manner of concerned people and municipalities in the country. Especially sponsored yellow bags and rubber gloves were provided for participants.
Humewood Sea Scout Group, Algoa Group Cubs and St Croix Sea Scout Group of Port Elizabeth braved the threatening weather to turn out in force to clean up a 5 km stretch of coastline devastated by severe storms earlier the same month.
The photo shows one of two piles of trash collected by the Cubs, Scouts and Scouters of the Humewood Sea Scout Group.
2010 - 2015
As part of Humewood Sea Scout's 2010 centenary celebrations, Algoa Sea Scout Group and St Croix Sea Scout Group, got together and celebrated with a display and water activities at the busy Boardwalk Complex on the sea front just before Christmas. At the large site they were allocated, they put up a display with flags, banners, models and pictures of Sea Scouting. The activity that drew most public interest was the building of a large Kontiki raft with cabin and again adorned with flags, which was launched onto the complex's lake. A programme of canoe racing and activities was undertaken on the water available. It proved to be a great opportunity to "show off" Sea Scouting, and a recruiting drive, in front of the many thousands of holiday visitors that thronged the well-known facility over the three days it lasted.
The 2010 Pow Wow was held in Port Elizabeth in April where the weather started off wet and miserable. The participants had to travel over a muddy road that led into Samcay, the youth centre on the banks of the Zwartkops River. Fortunately, the sun was soon out and they had a great four days of the promised "Mystery Safari" in glorious weather. Action and the Outdoors was promised and that was what was given. Elephants – Sea and sand – rafting on the river – all to do with the OUT in Scouting. The reason for holding a Cub Pow Wow was not forgotten, the camaraderie of the movement, exchanging ideas, meeting old friends and making of new friends. All too soon the closing ceremony arrived and they were all on our way home with wonderful memories.
A Jamboree with a difference was the April 2011 Eastern Cape Green PEA (People, Environment and Adventure) event that was held at Kirkwood in the Sunday's River Valley. The Green PEA Jamboree had its focus on community service and the environment and its people.
The basic plan divided the Jamboree event into three sections: - Home base, where the scouts would participate in various base activities; Rietberg School, where the activities included painting, gardening and scout games and Night activities, which were also conducted back at the home base.
Fifty Scouts attended the Jamboree, mostly from Port Elizabeth representing Algoa, Sunridge, St Columba, Humewood and Walmer Troops. There were also scouts from Knysna and the Transkei area and two visitors from Cape Town. The Adventure bases were: - Electronics & Radios, Air Rifles, Canoe Paddling, Archery, Wound Simulation and an Obstacle Course.
From c2008 the Areas were renamed Provinces and from c2013 they were renamed Regions. The name Cape Eastern seems to have been interchanged with the more common Eastern Cape and in April 2015 it was recorded that to make the Eastern Cape Region more manageable it was divided into two, these being Eastern Cape South Region and Eastern Cape North Region.
The end of a paper-based archive
Most of the history recorded here was well before the digital age and the era of social media. Stored in the Scout archives, it was all paper based - sourced from old newspaper cuttings, which was a popular way of recording events, hand written logbooks and masses of documents. We can thank our predecessors for saving and preserving this history.
Today the Eastern Cape has a 'formal' comprehensive and informative Scout Website that abounds with information and records the various events. Additionally, there are various 'less formal' social media sites like Facebook that are a quick and very popular way to record and share the Scouting activities in the area.