A message from our Regional Commissioner, Paddy Milner:
We are all very aware of the extremely dry and windy conditions we are experiencing in the Western Cape. This has translated into numerous wildifires across the Region. As Scouts we use the outdoors and wilderness to build leadership and adventure experiences and teach teamwork and a love for nature amongst our youth members. Given we are privileged to have access to the fantastic trails and areas of wilderness in the Western Cape it is important to ensure that our Scouts appreciate this and are extremely aware of the risks posed by our being in the Wilderness, both physically and to the environment.
As fire risk is now at an unusual peak it is timely to remind all leaders and members of a few basic rules and highlight some do’s and don’ts for us all.
We have banned all fires inside the Scout Mountain Club hut and at Appleton Camp until further notice. Only gas stoves may be used and only inside the hut.
At Hawequas cooking fires are permitted but again only with the Wardens approval on the day and in approved designated fireplaces.
When hiking or outdoors – be reminded that no scouts or members are permitted to light any fires or burn toilet paper or other rubbish on any event in the outdoors. All rubbish should be crushed and taken back home for proper disposal. The use of any naked flame including gas is not permitted in Cape Nature, SanParks or any outdoor nature areas during the declared fire season. Gas stoves may only be carried by scouts for emergencies or use in an authorised camp site designated area. Only the hike leader may carry a source of ignition (matches, lighter or flint) and only for use in emergencies.
Camp fires have long been a tradition in Scouting, building camaraderie, fun and bringing a special ambience to an evening, however given the extremely dry conditions we are facing, creative thought needs to be given to their current use and curtailed or not held until conditions improve. Certainly the size needs to be minimised and adequate equipment and resources available to respond. Camp fires should not be considered at all in windy conditions. Again be reminded naked flames are not permitted in the Western Cape outdoor areas at present.
Please ensure that all pack, troop and crew meetings as well as your scouter teams include a session on the risk of fires, prevention steps and immediate response actions. We appeal to all Leaders to review plans for hikes, camps and outdoor activities and eliminate the risk of a fire in the outdoors as a result of your activity.
And while you at it remember to continue to build water saving awareness into your programs as well.
It’s all part of what we are about and trying to inculcate in our youth to make them into good responsible citizens.
The Regional Coordination team
Western Cape Region