The day dawned clear and sunny. The bus was waiting, the children arrived on time, bags were packed, cameras at the ready and teachers Pam and Amy set to go!
Two and a half hours later we bounced along a gravel road and the children gave a whoop of joy as the 'Hakuna Matata' sign came into focus.
With great anticipation and excitement the tour group disembarked and collected their luggage. Aubrey and Sonia, the Camp Leaders, Neo and Moosa, the two Camp Counselors, were there to welcome the girls and the boys. Girls were taken to Mufasa Chalet and the boys marched off towards Scarface Chalet.
Children were made to freshen up, unpack their bags and given a debriefing in the Boma. After a delicious lunch we went outside to relax beneath a huge, Acacia tree. All around us was green, horses grazed quietly in the field, three delightfully friendly dogs sniffed inquisitively at each one of us and butterflies dotted the lawns as far as the eye could see.
Line games were organized and the children divided into two groups. The most enjoyed race was the Obstacle Course where Teacher Amy decided to challenge Kunashe! A hearty round of applause for both contestants was delivered by the spectators, Teacher Amy was determined to crawl through the tyre, Kunashe sprinted smartly to the Finish Line with his arms folded proudly across his chest.
A Tug-of-War was the final event of the games. Teacher Pam arranged the Teams to make the most of size and strength! Once the signal to begin was given, the teams took the event seriously and such great pulling and tugging was never before seen at Hakuna Matata. Congratulations to Team Manelly who won 3 of the five challenges.
The mud pool was a pleasing sight to our hot and fatigued children. They began the pool crossing a little gingerly at first, but when they realized that the water was never deeper than their knees they fell about in the cool water and splashed along happily. Neil and teacher Pam put their heads together and managed to pull off the first trick on Aubrey. (Our Tour Guide)
Our final task in the mud pool was to conceal ourselves with mud and leaves and complete a leopard crawl to the exit. Michelle, Damilola, Chapanga and Lewis accepted the task with great gusto and were very difficult to spot once they were in camouflage!
Supper was a rather quiet affair as the group was exhausted after the first busy day. We played "Pop-the Balloon" and retired to our chalets.
The day began with a hearty breakfast of cereal, toast, sausage and egg. We regrouped after a brief play session and walked to the Nutcracker, a plantation of 700 Macadamia trees. Our host Graham, gave an interesting presentation on the farming, harvesting and selling of Macadamia Nuts. Teta, Tsaki and Michelle listened carefully and were quickly able to identify nuts that were ready for picking. Arman, Neil and George were totally taken by 'Pinkie' a pot-belly piglet who followed us around the farm.
The Vaal River crossing was next on the agenda and each child was fitted with a life-jacket. A 'hand-chain' was formed and the crossing began. Fabulous team spirit was displayed by Israel, Kunashe, Miguel, Teta, Eden and Manelly as they supported and encouraged the others to walk over the rocks through the rushing water. Tour Captains, Aubrey and Sonia, commented on the courage and good sense displayed by our group of children.
After such demanding activities lunch was eagerly taken and we took a 30 minute rest. The afternoon activities of Archery, Focus Ring and swimming completed the day's activities.
During supper we heard an all too familiar sound emanating from the kitchen. The children responded to the music enthusiastically and very generously offered to dance for the kitchen ladies. Yes, you guessed it! The Wakka Wakka! Teta, Tsaki, Manuela, Manelly and Palesa danced beautifully for their enthusiastic and most appreciative audience.
This is a good time to mention that the animal masks (giraffe, zebra and ostrich) that were created in the previous school production by Courtney House hold pride of place in the decoration of the very large dining room in Hakuna Matata.
Light, cool showers greeted us in the morning while the sun struggled against the clouds. We breathed a sigh of relief as the skies cleared and the rain clouds disappeared behind the hills.
We worked in three groups which rotated through the fun activities : horse riding, plank-walking, and Target! Once again, Arman took to horse riding like a duck takes to water and he wasted no time in requesting a second ride as soon as he noticed that Manuela did not take her ride. Raffaele proudly displayed his archery skills while Miguel, Lewis and George worked hard at balancing on the planks. Damilola and Teacher Amy were pretty good at keeping their balance and maintaining a steady speed.
The rain came down for a couple of minutes so we hastily made our way to the Boma. Once we had warmed up we played a 'string game.' Two children were joined by two lengths of string attached to each pair of wrists. The trick was how to detach from your partner without breaking the string or taking it off. Well, right now, we can tell you that Houdini would be amazed at some of the physical contortions that were produced by our boys. Lewis and Israel, Ebrahim and Chapanga had us in stitches for several minutes. Please ask your children who came on camp, to show you the trick... if they can remember it!
The climbing wall proved to be a real challenge and each child scaled the wall very willingly. Great courage and determination were summoned by Arman, Theo, Neil, Manuela, Miguel and Eden who successfully climbed to the top (or close to the top) of the wall. The 'Spider Award' was handed to Arman and Eden who made it all the way to the top!
Stalk the Lantern was the last activity of the evening. The lantern is placed in the dark beside a Lantern Keeper. The challenge is to get to the lantern without being spotted by the Lantern Keeper who randomly flashes his torch out into the darkness. If you are caught in the light of the torch you're OUT! Very admirable stealth and camouflage skills were exhibited by Palesa, Manelly, Manuela, Miguel, Lewis and Eden. Palesa was the champion in both events!
That night the rain came down just as we entered our chalets. Fortunately, the lights went out for only a couple of seconds before power was restored. That proved to be a moment of revelation... Teacher Amy is very afraid of the dark!
Another warm day stretched ahead of us. Quickly we ate a yummy breakfast of cereal, followed by flapjacks and syrup. Next we climbed aboard a farm trailer where we sat ourselves down on deliciously thick mattresses. We trundled off down the gravel road with our trailer being towed by the enormous farm tractor towards the game farm. Giraffe, eland, zebra, and ostrich were seen up close! Fortunately, the animals were well accustomed to the noise of the tractor and they were more interested in the contents of the trailer!
We returned safely to the camp and made our way to the Great Tree where we could try our hand at abseiling. Let me assure you that although this activity looked fairly easy it required a good dose of stamina and courage. Every single child gave it a try and managed to reach a height of six meters! Hats off to Arman, Neil, Kunashe, Eden, Michelle and Manelly who made it all the way to the swing! 12m up in the air! Big Ups to Sonia and Aubrey who made us all feel quite safe and extremely brave.
Three teams were created with our group of children, and Teacher Amy, Teacher Pam, Neo and Aubrey the camp counselors as team Captains. We had to build and light the fires, cook our individual potjies and eat them! Admirable team spirit kicked in and soon everyone was busy, some collected wood and made fires under supervision, others chopped, peeled, washed and sliced the vegetables. A big, warm "Thank you" to the kitchen ladies who had prepared and spiced our meat so splendidly.
An hour and a half later we sat down to the best potjies ever!!
We really needed a rest after that wonderful lunch and the camp was still and silent for the next 30 minutes.
That afternoon we made our way down to the riverbank where we collected our tubes to begin our journey floating down river. The children so enjoyed the gentle, cool, running water and squealed with delight as the fish jumped up and out of the water close beside them. We returned an hour later and took turns in river rafting to the buoy and back. Ah, here... yet another discovery was made! Teacher Amy and Teta had to learn how to row in time, how to row as a team, and yes which direction was right or which way was left! After a couple of determined attempts and subsequent to creating some wonderful circles, and pretty ripples in the water, they returned to the bank safe and sound!
While some children enjoyed the rafting we discovered a few future budding architects within the group. Such magnificent and creative city designs, marvelous road and bridge infrastructure was created in the pliant white sand along the river bank. Neil, Arman, Lewis and Manuela fashioned an extraordinary city of the future. Teacher Pam knighted Sir Arman and Sir Neil for their contributions to building grand cities of the future. It was such a shame to have to leave it all behind.
Exhausted but happy we made our way back to camp. We took our showers, put on some warm, dry clothes and headed for the dining room. After the many mouth-watering meals that were enjoyed during the week the children were most appreciative of the hotdogs that were served.
A large camp fire was lit in the Boma where the children had gathered to perform their skits; Group 1 Why the Zebra Has Stripes and Group 2 Why the Giraffe Has a Long Neck. The camp leaders commented on the introduction of a narrator in the story, a first in all the plays they had watched at Hakuna Matata. Teacher Pam positively glowed with pride because this idea was practiced in English class!
The week had passed by so quickly! It was time to pack our belongings and to begin the not too long journey home. We took our bags to the bus on our way to breakfast. Some children had to be encouraged to eat slowly because they were afraid that the bus would leave earlier than planned. We said a huge, warm thank you; we sang our sad goodbyes and made our way to the bus.
It had been a wonderful week of learning experiences outside the classroom. We discovered that Parys is of great significant interest to geologists because this part of South Africa was hit by a meteor 12km in diameter over two million years ago. The meteor travelled 20km deep into the earth displacing soil and rock upwards forming a perimeter of mountains 3000km long. As you gaze around the skyline of Parys you can see the ring of mountains that circle the town.
We have so enjoyed an amazing week together; we have experienced many new and exciting adventures that we could learn only when we were away from the city!
Thank you Teacher Demi for organizing such an extraordinary camp which will be much talked about and fondly remembered for many years to come.
Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning
- Albert Einstein