Day 5 – Why you not digging!!?

Another day again, but at least we’re past the half-way mark. I start packing the car at 6:45, and we get to the hall at 7:00, pick up the scouts and make our way out to site.

As usual, I start out by explaining the day’s goals: Prepare the next batch of mosaic tiles (clean them), dig compact and pave the mosaic path, build the rest of the bench, excavate the whole playground, and paint the second base coat on the wall. In addition, we wanted to put up the horizontal steps for the monkey bars, and paint the newly added poles.

Nick and Justin get started on that, whilst Nina, Natasha and Simphiwe get the tiles out of the moulds and begin cleaning them, a process made much easier with the use of sandpaper.

 

While they are doing that, I take the mould off the slab we cast at the base of the ladder to see how it came out.

It was then that the first bus of Bishops Boys arrived. There was still the issue of the second railing to put up, so I got half of them involved in digging up and replacing that. It was a task that was underestimated because the previous railings were sunk very deeply.

The other half of the boys decided to paint, so they did the base coat on the wall. When that was done, they did some finishing touches on the jungle gym, as well as the newly added poles. During that time, the wall dried and they asked to do some artwork, so I let them splatter paint onto it.

Meanwhile, Simphiwe, Nina and Natasha had finished the mosaics, so we got to work widening the path we dug last week, as well as extending it. The use of the compactor made life much easier when flattening the ground, although a rake would have been much appreciated.

When the digging had been half-done and there were people looking for something to do, we began mixing mortar for the bench. The actual building of the bench was a little tricky, and I don’t think that the mortar will hold it. We will probably have to do something about it.

In the afternoon, we carried on digging the path, and when we were finished, we started laying the tiles. Around then, the second bishops bus arrived, and they started the excavation work. This was tiring but we managed quite a lot before the day was done.

Eventually, all the tiles were laid and we had excavated a large part of the ground, and we all went home with blisters on our hands.

 

More images can be found at https://photos.app.goo.gl/XLnOrMr8JNbIllV32

Half-Way Report

Well, this sort of applies to the 4th day but still, here it is!

 

We’ve finally made it to the half-way mark of the project!! Here is the progress report:

Element 1 – Surface

Not much work has been done on the surface, except for the mosaic flagstones. These have been hard to make, because of the amount of cement it takes to make all the moulds (3 mixes). Despite that, we also had to fix up some of the moulds because they were rotting or had been broken

Element 2 – Wall

So far, the wall has probably been the easiest element of this project. Despite having the 20L paint drum stolen, and having to buy a new one, it has gone quite smoothly.

Element 3 – Jungle Gym

The Jungle gym hasn’t been a particularly challenging element of this project. The main complications came about when we were taking the monkey bars off and the upright pole snapped. This meant buying a new one and cementing it in. However, this only led to further problems, because it was slightly askew, which made the installation of the new monkey bars, a mission.
The other hardship was the painting of the structure, which we had to do around 5 times.

Element 4 – Bench

The bench is coming along nicely, having just cast the foundations. There was some debate I was having with myself as to whether or not we should cast a slab and the put the bench on top, but in the end, we just dug a hole and put the bricks in that.

Element 5 – Treehouse

“Don’t you think it’s hard to build a treehouse”
Comments from a Junior Scout that I should have listened to. It is indeed hard to build a treehouse and this was the most challenging aspect of the project so far. It took ages to get started, and from thereon, the problems racked up. Unstable bolts, uneven planks, loose ladders, not enough railings, the list goes on.
However, we did it! We managed to build it and make it secure despite making a few deviations from the original plan.
This element is a prime example of being able to sub-delegate, because I often gave the reins to two senior scouts, who oversaw the majority of its building.

Element 6 – Boundaries

Once again, this is another element that I underestimated. Digging the holes proved to be more taxing than expected, as well as mixing the cement. Unfortunately, we only performed a straightness check after cementing, so the railing does a bit of a curve.
We also went to get kerbstones that were left over from some civil engineers. They easily weighed around 100kg each, and in retrospect were probably not so great to use considering the time it took to put them in.

 

Goals and Objectives

If we look at my original plan, I wanted to have accomplished the following by this stage:

I want to have completed the treehouse, repaired and painted the jungle gym, installed and painted the railings, cast the mosaic tiles, cast the bench foundation and wash the wall and paint its base coat.

Funnily enough, writing it out now it seems so little for the amount of work that we have put in. I am very happy to report, however, that we have completed exactly those items at this point. We have even started the excavation for the path.

So, basically, I am happy with the progress we’ve made, even though, when it’s written on paper, it doesn’t seem like much.

 

Overall Comments and Conclusion

I would normally do a critical analysis of the different aspects of the project, but I will leave that for the final report, seeing as I’m already behind schedule with handing this report in.

At this stage, all I can say is that I can’t wait for it to be over. This is the biggest task I’ve ever undertaken, for Springbok and life. I don’t know how we are still on track and things are getting done because everything constantly seems to be going wrong yet working at the same time.

I think it is necessary to add that every Saturday takes it out of me, and I am utterly shattered after every work experience. I am probably not wrong in adding that it is negatively affecting my school work.

But, I think it is worth it. To see the happiness it brings the kids, to look at the before and after pictures and SEE the difference, is something that brings me personally great joy. In addition, I feel that I’m involving as many people as possible, from different troops, companies, clubs, etc. I’ve had many comments along the lines of “wow, I never imagined scouts was this cool…” which makes me think that, whilst creating a better environment for those less privileged than myself I am also showing others what the scouting movement does.

So, there ends my conclusion, and I’m not going to lie, it has been very hard. But the support I’ve gotten is amazing, and a lot of the credit should go to other people.

Let’s finish the next three days.

 

 

Thanks for taking the time to read it, if you want more pictures, check them here:

 

 

Day 4 – More mixing? Really…

Another late post, but I’m catching up!

Thanks to these scouts for making the day’s work possible:

  • Alick
  • Andre
  • Arjun
  • Aurielle
  • Caleb
  • Justin
  • Khelan
  • Matthew
  • Nick
  • Sam
  • Simphiwe
  • Zach

In addition, massive thanks to the boys from the Bishops Interact Club for coming to help out.

The day in a nutshell (or blog post)

 

We start the day again with Stephen Serafin arriving at my house and collecting equipment to transport to site. We pack the cars an arrive at the hall to pick up the people looking happily ready for a hard day’s work (not). We set off to site after waiting for Arjun to turn up (he overslept and only joined us later).

Upon arrival, we set up the gazebo and all the equipment and I explain what the day’s work is.  We want to get the tiles out of the moulds, make more of them, paint the railing, start the path, cement the bench foundations, cast a slab for the ladder, wash the wall and paint a base coat onto it, build a roof for the jungle gym and install the monkey bars.

We got busy right away, taking the tiles out of the moulds. Only one or two broke, which meant we had a pretty good mix. Taking the tiles out, I realized we needed to clean them and get the cement off the mosaics. This was something completely unexpected and took up quite a bit of time.

During that time, Alick and Justin were cutting the horizontals for the ladder leading up to the monkey bars. Unfortunately, we couldn’t re-use the old horizontals, because the new upright we cemented in last week was a bit skew (this proved to be a nightmare later on).

Around this time, the first contingent of Bishops Interact Members arrived. I set half of them to work on excavating the ground where the path was meant to go, and set Nick in charge of supervising that. The other half of the Bishops boys were to begin the building of the roof.

Lastly, Aurielle, Simphiwe and Khelan were priming and painting the railing we installed last week.

After lunch, the first contingent of Bishops boys left us. We started washing the wall in order to paint it, and many of the children got involved. At the same time, Zach and Sam set to work on painting the second coat of paint onto the jungle gym.

Nick, Alick and Justin were fixing the horizontal onto the upright that we cast last week, in the hope that the monkey bars would fit because of the skewness of the poles. André had arrived earlier, and to his disappointment, he had to continue working on the treehouse. Although I had thought that we had finished, while speaking to some kids, they informed me that they thought that it wasn’t safe enough for some of the blind children. As such, I bought new planks and he installed more railings in the tree.

At around 14:00, the second group of Bishops Boys arrived. Most of the mosaics were ready to be put into moulds, so we set them to work on mixing cement. The others went to put another coat of paint onto the wall and the jungle gym (this is because some of the children are desperate to help paint, but do so in a very hap-hazard way, causing a lot of paint spillage on the jungle gym).

At around 15:45, we got more roof planks, so some bishops boys finished off the roof. André had finished the treehouse, so he went and started laying the path. We had to compact the ground, which involved getting a wooden board, laying it on the ground, and getting kids to jump on it.

It was around then that something interesting happened. Whilst Nick and I ran to find some stones we could use for our concrete mix because we had run out, we can upon a bird that was stuck in a small pool of tar. As scouts (and humans), we couldn’t just leave it there, so I gently pulled it out of the tar. It’s right wing was completely covered in tar, as was it’s legs. We brought it back to the site, where a bunch of the cubs who had come to help took it upon themselves to clean it. We found a bucket and some dishwashing liquid and started cleaning. Unfortunately, Aurielle was also involved in that, which made our team of senior scouts decrease. After the day was done, we took the bird to a Bird Sanctuary, and deposited some money to the recovery of the bird.

 

Eventually, we finished up, having completed everything that was planned for the day and more! Here follow the before and after pictures:

Before:

After:

More pictures can be found at https://photos.app.goo.gl/ggdJYdyWh7fQpgk02

Day 3 – Why you not mixing!!?

Goodness, this is a late post. Well, better late than never.

Thanks to these scouts for helping out on day 3!

  • Alick
  • Andre
  • Caleb
  • Charles
  • Jed
  • Junior
  • Luke
  • Matthew
  • Orion
  • Rachel
  • Rebecca
  • Simon
  • Zach

The day’s happenings

 

Stephen arrives at my house at 6:45 and we start packing his car with water drums for the cement. I immediately realize that today will be a hard an taxing day of work. We get to the scout hall a bit late, load everyone up and set off for the school. On arrival, I explain what it is that we will be doing:

We want to install the railings that Simon Grantham has sponsored, finish the treehouse, make mosaics for the tiles, replace the broken upright on the jungle gym, paint the jungle gym and cast the mosaics.

We start work immediately, with Junior in the treehouse, Rebecca, Luke and Alick on the railings and Caleb helping Junior re-attach the ladder to the treehouse.

The digging began swiftly, with everyone quickly realizing why we brought pickaxes along. When Rebecca and Alick had finished digging their holes, we started taking the broken pole of the jungle gym down. We tried going about it in a civilized way, but to no avail. I ended up taking the ten-pound mallet and smashing bolts out of the top, to get the horizontal swing support out. What followed was more digging as we aimed to get the pole out of the ground.

During that time, André arrived, so Caleb and Simon could come and mix cement. We mixed the cement, and poured it for the railings. This proved to be intensely tiring, but with constant shouts of “WHY AREN’T YOU MIXING??”, we were able to get it finished. Seeing as we were on a roll, we also cemented the upright pole in. This whole process used 6 bags of ready mix cement.

After the first break, we decided to start mosaicking, for the tiles later on. I had seen some kerbstones at the school that were not in use, so Junior, Caleb and I jumped in the car to go fetch 5 of them. We soon realized the meaning of putting your back into it. The kerbs weighed around 80 kilos each but we managed to transport them. We found out that we should have dug the holes for the stones before cementing the railing in place, but we made a plan. Unfortunately, the scouts that were putting the kerbstones into the holes weren’t very careful, and Rebecca dropped a kerbstone on her finger.

Meanwhile, André and Junior were making good progress on the treehouse. The last week, we had noticed that the treehouse was a bit unstable, so this week were installing a support.

We had also begun the pouring of concrete for the moulds. This required a lot more concrete than I thought, with us making 3 mixes. At the same time, the painting of the jungle gym was going great.

At the end of the day, we had completed everything, including the treehouse, which I did not think we would be able to do.

Here follow the before and after pics:

Before:

After:

More pictures can be found at https://goo.gl/photos/4wcKsKeLB1U5tjHc9

Day 2 – Sticky situation

The second day of community service over and done with!!
This time around we had more people, thanks to three scouts from Second Rondebosch coming over to assist us! In total, these were the scouts who came to help:

  • André (2nd Rondebosch)
  • Charles (2nd Rondebosch)
  • Jed (2nd Rondebosch)
  • Simphiwe
  • Aurielle
  • Ephrahim
  • Junior
  • Jack
  • Matthew

The day started well, as I explained all the tasks we were going to complete. The plan was to add the flooring supports as well as the flooring to the treehouse, add the railing supports to the treehouse, repair all the broken items on the Jungle Gym and build a climbing wall and a balancing beam.

Junior, André, and Simphiwe set to work on the treehouse, whilst the other scouts and I started work on repairing the Jungle Gym. We were still waiting for the timber from Timbacore to arrive, as well as the balancing pole from Pole Yard, Jack and Aurielle started work on the climbing wall. I began fixing the roof of the tower part of the Jungle Gym and Matthew finished the ladder, by angle-grinding the bolts to make them smooth.

Start of work!!

1st Break Report

Half way through the first break, everyone except André and Junior took a break. We had managed to finish half the framework for the climbing wall, as well as the sanding down of the bolts on the ladder. I had secured the two beams with L-shaped brackets and the roof was ready to be worked on.

André and Junior elected to finish the supports before having a break.

Andre and Junior in the tree

Lunch Report

We’ve made significant progress since the last break, largely due to two new scouts from 2nd Rondebosch Arriving. After some hectic calculations ( 270/(220/15) = 15) to determine how many boards to cut, we completed the flat bridge. Aurielle, Jack, Matthew and I made a fast team, Aurielle marking drilling spots, me drilling pilot holes, Matthew countersinking and Jack hammering nails in.

We had also managed to complete the framework for the climbing wall, requiring only the handholds to be done. As for the tree house, we got the four flooring supports on, only to discover that when we put the planks up, the structure wasn’t level. As such, we had to put nuts and washers under various beams in order to level it out.

Lastly, we completed half of the roof.

End of day Report

After lunch, we all sort of worked like demons, and didn’t stop for the break between the two work slots. Or rather,  we did,but not all at the same time.

This was primarily due to the painting that began. I had thought that we may finish the day’s work faster than expected, so I had brought the wood primer along. Indeed, we had finished repairs on the jungle gym and there were scouts hanging around doing nothing, so they were made to paint.

 

Aurielle Painting

Some of the school kids were hanging around, and they were super enthusiastic to join in, so we gave them plastic bags, paintbrushes and showed them where to paint. Aurielle was deemed Head of the Committee of Painting.

Other than priming the wood, Matthew fixed the swing bolts, Charles added poles to the side of the “house” element of the Jungle gym, and André and Junior managed to add the flooring planks to the tree house in record time.

Charles drilling holes to bolt the poles onto the side of the house:
Charles drilling holes to bolt the poles onto the side of the house

Junior and André proudly having completed the flooring of the tree house
Junior and André proudly having completed the flooring of the treehouse

After the flooring was complete, Ephrahim (who arrived around 14:30) and Jed started painting the tree house and ladder with wood preservative.

Preserving the wood

Lastly, we had also finished the climbing wall. I left it up to Matthew and Charles because they are both climbers. They seemed dubious about gluing the holds on, but as soon as Matthew got glue on his hands, he was quickly convinced how strong it was. In order to get it off, he needed to use a chisel and peel off a 5cm layer of glue. Nonetheless, I think we will use bolts next week just to be safe.

That’s it! All in all, a very productive day. Just to emphasize that, here is a time-lapse of around 9 hours of work.

Thanks to all those who came and helped!!

Day 1 – Simphiwe’s Hand

So, that’s the first day done and sanded. There were five people who helped out on the first day, so huge thanks to:

  • Thato
  • Rachel
  • Justin
  • Simphiwe
  • Matthew

We accomplished a lot and they all worked very hard. In Terms of the actual log, I took logs three times during the day, once during the first work session, once during lunch and lastly just before packing up.

Mid-morning report

Work is well underway, Matthew and Justin are busy building the first lateral support for the treehouse. Thato, Rachel and Simphiwe are taking the jungle gym apart and sanding it down. Everything is rather chaotic, we don’t really have any system of organisation and the table is a bit of a mess.

 

Lunch report

At lunch, everyone was exhausted, but by far the biggest centre of attention was our dear friend Simphiwe. I had given Rachel, Thato and Simphiwe the job of building the ladder for the treehouse, which involved drilling through two poles and bolting them together. Simphiwe decided to fight the drill with his bare finger. Simphiwe vs Drill (held by Rachel). Who would win? Needless to say, we spent some time trying to pull his glove off the drill.

Besides that interesting incident, we had made some great progress. The jungle gym was completely stripped and sanded, and we had the first beam up the treehouse. Unfortunately, while taking the monkey bars off, we split one of the uprights only to reveal a hornet nest on the inside. This means having to dig out a pillar and re-cement a pole in. 

 

End-of-day report

Finally, we are done!! We have built the four support poles in the tree, and they are well secured. In addition, we have finished the ladder, although we were unable to finish angle-grinding the tips of bolts because our blade became as torn as someone choosing between pizza and ice-cream. 

We also removed the remaing elements from the jungle gym that we had forgotten earlier…

All-in-all, it was a productive day, and everyone went home exhausted. Despite being behind schedule with the treehouse, it isn’t by much, and we saved a large amount of time on the jungle gym. 

A great first day! Now onto next weekend….

 

For more images, check out https://goo.gl/photos/4ED3YJwCnSW2DSRMA

We’re up!

This is the first post to the website that will be the home to the community service initiative Blind Hope!! You can check the Project Overview or you can see the in-depth analysis of the project. If you are keen to donate are help in any way, see the “Help Us” page.

Lastly, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to email me on daniel.h.lejeune@gmail.com !

 

Be sure to keep an eye on the blog for when we start building!!