Our Kids Visit the Lion Park

As the term came to the end for a three week school holiday, it was time to reward the Junior School of Excellence (JSE) children for their dedication throughout the term. A big bang at the end of each term is a good way to keep the children motivated. This was also a great way of getting our older Senior School of Excellence (SSE) kids to ‘give back’ by chaperoning the JSE kids and providing some mentorship during the day.

On the 26th June 2012, eleven UTS staff and six SSE kids chaperoned fifty children from the JSE on a trip to Seaview Lion Park. The selection is based on the reward system we use at the JSE for the most consistent attendees. As well as 30 lions the park also boasts other big cats such as tigers, leopards, cheetahs and a beautiful panther cub; a rare sight to behold. The children got to see some of their favourite wild animals, and were excited to be in such close proximity to them! Giraffes, zebras, impalas and many more animals freely roam around the park. To make the experience more fun, snacks were prepared for them to enjoy while spotting the wildlife and after leaving the park, everyone was treated to a yummy lunch at KFC!

The day was an amazing start to their holiday and a great way for the children to bond with each other, outside the school environment. It was the ideal opportunity for the older SSE children to share information about their experiences of the change from a township school to a multi-racial one, and a great way to keep the younger children inspired to do their best so they could also be selected for the SSE next year.

As the organisation, it is vital for us to engage kids from our programs in fun, social activities, especially activities that are educational and that broaden their perspectives in more ways than one. The day trip to Seaview was much appreciated by the kids, something they will never forget; they couldn’t wait to get home and share their incredible experience with their families!

School of Excellence South Africa Camp

Our School of Excellence has our kids busy every day in the afternoons; from life skills to sport, mentoring to extra tuition as well as the weekend matches they regularly play. With the school load and the after school programs they take part in, it would be very easy to just give up but most of our kids show commitment to the project day in and day out!

As the year is nearing the end, it was time to reward those dedicated scholars for all their commitment and efforts to keep the project going forward. An overnight stay at the Cape St Francis Resort organised by Fezulaka Experiential Outdoor Adventure was the reward for the 38 children who had attended 80% or more of the after school sessions. During the year, they had attended a number of life skills sessions and some of these came in handy on the camp; it was great to hear them speak about rip currents from the water-safety and ocean awareness session they attended in July and recycling their cups and paper plates from the environmental session in April. This would also serve as the perfect opportunity for the kids to have their final socialising and relaxation time before the exams and heavy study period. Going with the kids to the camp were our Soccer coach Zolani, our Netball coach Nokuthula and our Project Manager, Spakes.

On arrival at the campsite, the kids were briefly given the rules and regulations of their stay and headed off on a long beach walk. On the walk they were given some general knowledge on the functionality of the lighthouse, they went to see some penguins and ended on the rocky side of the beach where they were exploring and learning about all sorts of sea creatures living under the rocks. By this time the children were very ready for lunch as they had used up a lot of energy on the beach!

After lunch, four groups were formed and each one had to give a presentation with their group name and war cry where a winner was awarded bragging rights! Each group had a pair of drums to use as they wished and were given no boundaries for creativity. Without any doubts, the group that combined variations from traditional to hip-hop moves took the title. The kids had to stay in their groups for the remainder of the camp and shortly after the war-cry’s it was time for their problem solving and team building activities. Their communication skills and logic were put to the test in the different activity stations set up. Once they had finished with these, the kids enjoyed some free time where they played sport around the campsite, composed music to the beat of the drums and just had some time to lay back and relax. They also used this time to read over the stories each group was given. Before supper, they would have to do short plays telling African myths in each story.

In the dark, the kids performed their short stories and once again, the winners were the same group from the earlier competition. The plays were very entertaining as the kids had put in a lot of effort to try and out do each other! After supper, it was time for a short night walk on the beach and through the bushes, where the Fezulaka guys pulled a disappearing act on the kids which got them screaming in fear! With a lot of activity in the day and the early morning ahead, bed-time gave no trouble at all.

In the morning, the kids had to be up early for jogging on the beach and drills on the beach. They really felt like they were in boot camp with them tied up in rope, running around carrying huge rocks and all the exercise drills they had to do! The fact that they could come back after breakfast to try out surfing and sand boarding kept them going! This was also the time they used to strategise getting Spakes soaked in the water as she was the only dry person in the group. First step would be sending the girls to trick her into handing over the camera, phone and sunglasses so the boys could come do the rest!

Indeed, after breakfast they had the time to showcase their non-existing surfing skills, or just enjoy the beach or the swimming pool. The rugby boys also used this time to catch what they could of the 2011 Rugby World Cup Final. Packing up and preparing for lunch, the camp had come to an end. It was a beautiful day and the blazing sun had the kids exhausted from the two days’ activities. The kids enjoyed the time spent at the camp and the coaches felt like 16 year olds again!

“As this is my last year with United Through Sport, the camp was a cool way to end my 4 year old relationship with the organisation. I loved that we were only a stone’s throw away from the beach and I think I discovered my potential to be a great surfer!” Ntsikayomzi Hlekani, Grade 12 United Through Sport South Africa Beneficiary.