Upton Shield, where skills were put to the test!

Wrritten by Jemma Gill, SSA Youth Influencer

Annually, the Western Cape Scout Region hosts a Junior Scout Hike competition called Upton Shield.  With 96 Patrols signing up, the 2024 edition of the competition was a great success! Comparing this with entry numbers from recent years, with 84 in 2023 and 65 in 2022; It is awesome to see how Scouting is growing in the Region, as more young people are afforded opportunities to get out and experience the world.

Chief Judge of Upton Shield 2024, Johann Visser – “Guppie” – of 1st Durbanville Scout Group notes that this increase may still be due to the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic, saying: “Kids haven’t been out – haven’t been doing things. I think that a lot of Troops are pushing with camps and hikes to try and get their Scouts out and about more!Our Region is growing thanks to our outreach programmes which are being spearheaded by people such as our Regional Commissioner, Nimmy Abrahams”, he adds.

“I think Upton is a very relevant competition as it gives Troop Scouters and Groups a good indication of where the skills of their junior Scouts are, and also their hiking ability. It tests a lot of the skills of a junior Scout in one competition – hiking, knowledge, and planning.”

Upton Shield changes venue annually. This year Upton took  place in the Camdebo park, next to the Tygerberg Nature Reserve. “As Chief Judge I think Upton went very well this year and had a great impact on the kids! It wasn’t too hard for their skill level, but it was also not too easy. The route wasn’t much of a climb, but had lots of ups and downs”, he explains.

The theme for the competition was ‘The Era of Communication’, underscoring the importance of effective communication – a vital skill to have as you develop not only as a Scout, but as a human. The competition included fun activities such as string phones and blindfold activities, as well as testing a broad scope of practical outdoor and Scouting skills.

Source: FB 9th/16th Cape Town

Upton Shield was Guppie’s first experience being a Chief Judge. “I hope the Region will ask me to do more things like this in future! It gives a person a lot of respect for Chief Judges and people that run courses. You get a different appreciation for the amount of work and effort that goes into planning an event like this. It’s a lot of pressure on one person, but that pressure can be relieved by the help they get from their team”.

When asked what words of advice he has to those interested in running competitions, he says:” Just do it! Don’t wait. But get a team together. Once you know you’re going to be Chief Judge, create that team – even if it’s far ahead. Start planning as soon as you can. Also get some insight or even planning documents from previous organisers so that you have a rough idea of what worked and what didn’t.”

Scouting competitions are a big part of the reason our Scout programme is so well-loved, and are an awesome resource for reflection and growth both personally and within a Troop. Congratulations to Guppie and his team for pulling together a successful Upton Shield!