On the weekend of the 13-14th February 2016, the Western Cape Pioneers training weekend was held at the Hawequas Scout Ranch. This course was aimed at teaching leadership and practical skills to Scouts, through the organization of pioneering projects, large constructions made using only poles and ropes. The course was smoothly planned and run by Danie van der Berg, with some assistance by a few scouters and Rovers from all over the area (with Table Bay Rovers present I might add). This years course had to be revamped due to the new scouting calendar which moved the pioneering weekend into February. This meant that the 3 day programme day to be condensed into 2 days with a test day at a later stage.
There were about 27 participants this year, split into 4 patrols. A few of the scouts had arrived at Hawequas on the Friday evening, but most opted to come through on the Saturday morning just before the opening ceremony.
After handling all the formalities, each of the instructors held skills bases to ensure that all the scouts had a full working knowledge of the most handy knots, lashings, hitches, and pioneering techniques. This was to set them up for the afternoon sessions of pioneering constructions, where the scouts would put their skills to the test. They would also be judged on their team work and leadership skills.
Each construction project ran for 90 minutes, which is enough time for a team to build each construction, provided they work efficiently within their team, have a good leadership, and enough foresight to effectively plan each phase of construction. The constructions each team had to build, while team members took turns at leading were; a monkey bridge, hour glass tower, haymaker’s bridge and quad-pod table, and a merry-go-round.
A few of the construction sessions had to be run on the Sunday morning to accommodate all the participants involvement. After packing away all of the ropes and pioneering poles, Danie had a debriefing session with all the scouts. He then went on to explain what was going to happen on the follow-up test day in March where the scouts would have to present their pioneering models. Some instructors will also be present on the test day to judge the participants on their skills they were taught on the first weekend.
I think everyone had fun, there were no serious first aid cases, and the participants and instructors learnt a great deal this weekend. To me, that sounds like a successful weekend.