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March 6, 2006

Kontiki 2006: team 7 photographs

Gauteng Kontiki took place over the weekend- around 3000 scouts, guides and supporters camped at Murray Park and 66 rafts participated in the weekend. Congratulations to this years winners, 3rd Krugersdorp Guides, who are the first Guide group to win Kontiki. I have put together photographs of my troop, and will post other photographs over the next few days. The theme for 2006 was 'an enchanted journey'. Our troop (as well as quite a few other) chose a Harry Potter slant on this, which will be apparent in the photographs below.

Kontiki is divided into 2 competitions: raft and supporters. Supporters consists of the campsite, competiton meal, play acting and spare time activities (ie. everything except for the raft). Raft competition includes technical and safety aspects of the raft as well as decorations appropriate to a theme.

This is a photograph of our raft under construction on Friday night. The A-frame construction is a descendant of the pontoon ferry raft which we have been using for some time- the structure is trinagulated, and because of this is very stable. Decking has been attached, barrels tied on and you can see how a secondary superstructure frame has been added to hang the decorations. During the construction of the raft, it rained fairly hard, but our scouts had a tarpaulin under which all our ropes were stored, which made construction much easier as all ropes were dry.

The raft was decorated as a Quidditch pitch, complete with corner towers, a quidditch player flying on a broom (visible on the top rope in this photograph), hoops (tied to the running lights and not visible in this photograph) and a golden snitch. The raft crew are shown here modelling the t-shirts with our team number and a quidditch player. Rafts launch at 12 on Saturday (rafts are launched by picking them up and carrying them into the water (this takes about 20 people) and come off the water 24 hours later.

The gateway to our campsite was a portrait as in the Harry Potter books- with a password needed to open the gate. The entire portrait opens like a door, using frapping mallets as hinges. Above the door you can see badges of the four houses of Hogwarts School, modified to match our four patrols. The idea for this gateway came from a troop brainstorming session, and the design was resolved by Alastair Cooper, who also designed the porcullis gateway.

Our camp couch this year was upgraded- to include 2 seating levels, and was reinforced as well- using cargo nets instead of sack cloth for the seats. This was a favourite of our scouts, with the upper level offering a view of the waterfront and some of the rafts, and the lower level facing in towards our camp site. The ladder leading to the upper level is visible behind the couch in this photograph.

Our dining table is a fairly straighforward table, with a tripod at either end supporting the deck of the table and a bench running along either side. There is also a shelter (2006 did not disappoint, with a storm on Friday night- making 20 out of 22 Kontiki weekends that have had rain) as well as a wire chandelier made by a craftsman working on the side of the road (who worked from a photograph of a crystal chandelier).

The only campsite gadget not designed and built by the scouts themselves was the flagpole, where I tried out a rather unusual structure. This type of tower is called a tensgrity system, and none of the brooms in this model are touching each other- they are all supported by a network of cables. In this photograph I am still adjusting the cables to level the tower out. In the next few days I will post a step-by-step guide to building a tower like this, with photographs of every stage and links to other tensegrity structures on the net.

Outside of my normal subject matter of pioneering, are a few other aspects of the supporter's competition:

Firstly, the Beaver Challenge. This is a challenge activity for Cubs and younger Scouts (Brownies and younger Guides as well, of course), which involves moving between a number of bases completing activities, and having a card stamped, with the aim of filling the card with stamps and earning a badge. Our pack scouters run our Beaver Challenge base, and this year consisted of choosing a 'bank vault'to open (one of a grid of matchboxes) from which the participant took the money and moved across to Ollivander's to buy a magic wand based on the 'money' they had found in the bank vault. Roughly 300 magic wands were distributed.

The competition meal was cooked by two of our scouts, and was a 'banquet' complete with a bacon,orange and cheese starter, sausages or chicken as the main course and a chocolate dessert. Menu, budget, table setting, grace, hygiene as well as the 3 courses themselves are judged in this competition. The meal was carried on a table suspended from a 'flying broomstick' frame, and our meal placed 2nd overall.

The Spare Time Activity has become our main parent involvement item at Kontiki- 4 or 5 families as well as all of the scouts on the supporters crew were involved in putting it together. The STA this year consisted of 3 seperate activities (a 'magical circle' made of clothes, as large as possible; a magical creature; and an awareness poster for the Troll Anti-Taunting League). Here is a photograph of our magical creature, which was a working, walking marionette, with a trunk that squirts yellow paralysing poising (also operated from the puppet controls) via a drip spliced into the trunk. Our STA placed 2nd.

The fancy dress was planned and co-ordinated by our scouts, and consisted of a series of portraits talking to each other, 3 wizards and an appearance by Hagrid (extreme right of photograph).

Other photographs of our troop and our sister troop are available here - thanks to Marc for these photographs. Look out for updates over the coming days, including gateways, rafts and the tensegrity flagpole I mentioned above.

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