On the 18th and 19th of March 2016, 10 patrols of Scouts from the CW12 Table Bay District gathered to take part in the annual Robert’s Trophy competition, presented by us, the Table Bay Rover Crew. This year the theme was ‘pirates’ and patrols were going to be tested in a combination of camping, hiking and general scouting skills. It looked to be a far tougher experience than presented in previous years, and fierce competitiveness was evident, with Scouts and their parent support teams all motivated to bring home the trophy.
The event began on the Friday evening at Eerstesteen, part of the Blaauwberg Nature Reserve who were awesome enough to allow the Scouts to camp over here and use their facilities. The patrols first tasks were to begin cooking a 3 course meal on a fire. The catch was that teams were given a variety of secret ingredients that they needed to integrate with their pre-arranged menus to present something unique to the judges. These ingredients included boiled eggs, spaghetti squash, brinjals, celery and star fruit – and boy were some teams surprised! Despite some wet weather, all the patrols were able to present their meals in a timely manner, and standards were good. Some meals were truly excellent and many of our independent judges commented that they would happily eat them again.
All the while, patrols were also working on STA’s (spare-time-activities) that would have to be presented at various times throughout the competition. The first of these was a ‘pirate shanty song’, incorporating some traditional pirate lingo (like ‘booty’ and ‘Jolly Roger’) and, courtesy of 1st Table View, we got to hear what might be the only pirate rap ever written by kids. Other STA’s the patrols worked on were the creation of a ship mascot, and their own pirate flag to carry with them the next day.
Once the meals were finished, and teams had erected their tents and cleaned up, we began night bases. These were a series of 9 general scouting skills tests – ranging from the six basic knots and treating minor burns to completing an obstacle course and putting their stalking skills to the test. Teams had only 2 hours to complete as many of these activities as possible, and time management played a huge part. The rain decided to misbehave, but the patrols endured courageously and were all off to bed just after midnight.
The Scouts were up bright and early on Saturday morning to vacate Eerstesteen, and begin the final phase of Roberts Trophy – the log trek to Milnerton Beach. Campsites were quickly struck, and the patrols campsites were inspected to ensure that we left Eerstesteen and clean as we found it. It was then time for the morning briefing, patrols were given the map of the activity sites they would need to visit on their way to Milnerton, and a list of 10 additional STA’s they would need to complete. They gathered their equipment and headed off!
Fortunately the days weather was excellent, and teams were able to enjoy the bases along the beach. These included such activities as having to build a device to remotely dig up treasure, a first aid scenario where the had to treat a crew member who had been injured in battle and a signals base where they had to use various techniques to signal for help. All the while teams were working on weird and wonderful STA’s, like making a ship-in-a-bottle and completing our Pirate Quiz. The final few bases included a handicap awareness challenge, a simulated sea rescue and firing an elastic-powered cannon at targets.
Due to time constraints, it was necessary to cut the final 2 bases from the competition – and we would like to thank the parents who waited patiently for us to finish. The 10 teams of very tired, and hopefully proud, Scouts arrived at the Milnerton Lighthouse for the final award ceremony. The winners were announced – well done to the 1st Bothasig Puffadders for taking home the trophy!
We would like to thank the Rovers and the many Scouters who got their hands dirty as judges this weekend. Big thanks must also go to the parents and Scouters who backed up their teams, you guys make Scouting possible. We would especially like to thank the awesome staff at Blaauwberg Nature Reserve for letting us use their facilities, we will be back in better weather! And finally thanks all the Scouts that made the effort to be there, you guys are amazing and you conquered the beach – you can all be proud of accomplishing something this weekend.
CHIEF JUDGES REPORT:
This year there were a lot of very junior scouts and inexperienced patrol leaders taking part – and while the scoreboard was clearly dominated by the ‘big 3’ senior team, I think all juniors can be very proud of themselves. It’s a tough job being a patrol leader, and none of you should go home feeling demotivated, you all lead your teams safely, and to the best of your abilities. This is a learning experience, and what you may have thought of as a ‘failure’ this year, is actually something you are going to learn from and turn into a victory later in your Scouting careers. You all are conquerors! The 3 main lessons all teams can take home from Roberts and use for other competitions are, in my opinion:
- Time management: The 3 senior patrols leaders got their high scores, not only by doing well with the challenges, but by using their time efficiently. It is tempting to try and give 100% at every base, but as you gain experience, you will see that as a leader you sometimes need to make the decision to skip an activity, or lower your standards and finish quickly to that you can move on to other challenges (perhaps ones where you can perform even better). Choose your battles. Skipping or rushing a base strategically could help complete more night bases, or help you catch up on the long hiking sections.
- Take 5 Minute Break And Read: Very few teams handed in their bag of rubbish at the end of the beach walk, or reported in to the Cannon or Signal base with their STA’s ready. The reason for this was not a lack of time, but rather that teams had not read through their STA’s at the very beginning – and many of you missed out on easy points. Patrol leaders, you’ve got this. Don’t let the stress and pressure to compete make you feel the need to rush – you can totally take 5-10 minutes at the beginning to just sit your patrol down, read through all the instructions and ask each member to keep their minds and eyes open for ways to complete the activities.
- Teamwork & Leadership: At almost every base (and in almost every competition in Scouting) you will probably get some points for teamwork. What does this mean? What the judges are looking for is simple. 1) Does the PL talk to his/her patrol and form a plan with their input? 2) Does the PL delegate the tasks to the patrol members, and them monitor them, or do they micromanage and do everything themselves? 3) Does the PL motivate struggling members, reprimand misbehaving ones and assist struggling ones?
Those 3 things are all things you’ll gain with experience, and it’s events like this where you learn part of the lesson. In 3 or 4 years time, it’s the juniors that are going to be the butt-kicking seniors.