Pompom De-weeding and Tree Planting Adventure

2010-01-23


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’n “PomPom ervaring’

Linde-Marie se verslag

By Linde-Marie Ferreira

Nooit het ek besef ‘n vroeë Saterdag-oggeng gejaag na ‘n “uitstappie dag” sou so groot deel van my hart en herinneringe gevorm het nie. Skaars wakker en vars toe ek, Tia en Warrick in die kar is oppad na ‘n vol daggie saam SoapKids. Vinnig vinnig moes ek opvang oor wat die dag behels, wat van my verwag gaan word en waar ek deel gaan hê aan die besonderse ervaring.

Met goeie aanwysings arriveer ons op tyd, asem in en asem uit want ‘n vreemde omgewing loop ook nie altyd soos soet stroop af nie. Eks dadelik weggeslaan oor die mooi natuur om my, die vriendelike mense doenig met geselsies en reëlings, karre wat een vir een inkruip… almal staan in afwagting en wag vir 53 gesiggies om die dag saam met ons af te skop!

So dankbaar vir die eerste koffie en beskuitjie om die gaatjie te vul, deur als ontmoet ons almal so stadig stadig. Sommer vinnig daarna skop die kaffien in, alle naam plaatjies is op, vormpies ingevul – “Let the fun begin”

Wakker lewendige gesiggies hardloop die wêreld vol, hier en daar sing een harder as die ander, meisies wat hul “cheerleader” liedtjies paradeer, seuntjies wat mekaar boelie, skaam maatjies wat eenkant staan, om soveel variasie te kon sien het my hart net daar inmekaar laat stort. Dis toe wat almal in groepies verdeel word, ai en hoe die maatjies net bymekaar wil wees was so opvallend. Wat my spesifiek bygeval het is hoe elke groepleier uit sy pad uitgegaan het om die handtjie vol kinders gemaklik te maak. Die opwinding en afwagting vir die dag se aktiwiteite was dadelik daar.

Elke groepie moes ‘n naam en “War Cry” kry, spanbou en ysbrekers wat altyd so goed werk. Vinnig het die drie dogtertjies in my groep die leiding in kreatiwiteit geneem… Hul doop ons toe as die “Mighty Rangers”. Snaaks hoe sulke goedtjies nie vir Adam, Calvin en Joze belangrik was nie. Aan die ander kant was dit verseker een van die hoogtepunte vir die passievolle meisies in ons groepie. ‘n Paar koppe saam in een mis en siedaar, ons “War Cry” word oor en oor, harder en harder gesing en gedans!! Ja, dans aksies was een van die moets in ons kreet!

Sharron vertel ons toe van die “PomPom” onkruid wat nie ‘n goeie ding vir ‘n mooi veld is nie. Hoe hul sade soos blits in die wind versprei as hul versteur word en hoe ons spanbou en saamwerk ‘n verskil kan maak om bietjie van hierdie oorvloed ontslae te raak. Kort na ons inligting-sessie vaar die 7 van ons teen ‘n spoed die veld in. Ai en hoe meer ons vol modder raak, hoe vinniger hardloop ons die hoogtes in, teruggeslaan in hoe opvallend dit is dat party van ons fikser is as die ander. Almal het saamgewerk, ons het ‘n strategie gevorm, een vat die plastiek en “versmoor die alien” terwyl die ander een hom knip en die laaste maatjie staan en wag vir die oorwinnings om die wit sak so vinnig moontlik vol te kry. Want ja, Groep 6 wou verseker die kompetisie vir die meeste sakke wen. Dit was so lekker om almal te sien deelneem terwyl ons in die son bak. 2 Ure vlieg soos 20 minute verby, 7 sakke verder trotseer ons terug na die kamp terrein toe.

Die tydtjie in die veld het vir my baie beteken, die kinders het dadelik oopgemaak en so gemaklik geraak met die nuwe maatjies in hul groep. Die stil klomp by groep- indeling was later die babbel-bekkies en dit was vir my so mooi om te sien hoe hard hul almal gewerk het om daai sakkies te vul. My hart het gebreek vir die aandring vir liefde, hul wou my stories vertel, my handvat waar hul kans kon kry en so het ons 7 die tydtjie in die veld gevul met waardering en liefde vir mekaar. Ons was gedaan na die eerste uitstappie, minwetend dat die dag nog net aan die begin was. Waterkaskenades loer ons toe in die oë. En ja, nogals ‘n uitdaging want die kompetisie tussen die groepe was sterk en opbouend. Vinnig moes ek poging aanwend om hul gedagtes weer inlyn te kry vir verdere uitdagings!! Na 3 speletjies was dit tyd vir lekker middagete. Almal was honger, kry warm en wil ‘n blaaskansie hê. Saam geniet almal van ons die heerlike vars worsbroodtjies, yskoue koeldrankies en skaaptjoppies. Daar word nie veel gesels nie, ek het eintlik bietjie soos ‘n irritasie gevoel toe ek begin vra oor wat hul geniet het en wat hul geleer het, want hul eerste prioriteit was net om die kos te geniet sonder enige steuring. Darem is my vrae weer verwelkom na almal so paar happe inhet. Terugvoer oor die tyd in die veld was soortegelyk van almal af.

Samewerking, spanbou, nuwe maatjies, deursettingvermoë en iets nuuts oor plante is wat vir hul uitgestaan het oor die tydtjie in die veld. Na ‘n lekker middagete was dit tyd vir boomplant. Iets wat nie net vir hul nuut was nie, maar vir my ook. My eie boom plant is ook nou op my lysie afgemerk. Wat ‘n ervaring. Regtig! Dit was nogals van ‘n storie, eers ‘n gat vind, dan die plastiek afkry (wat nogals styf vassit ek moet byvoeg), dan kompos en dan eers hom toemaak met sand. Belangrike punte, die hoogte van die boompie moet dieselfe wees as die hoogte van hoe diep hy in die begin in die swart plastiek was. Bonuspunt as hy ook in die regte rigting wys in terme van die son. Saam saam sukkel sukkel die 7 van ons om ons boompies in die grond te kry. Gemerk en trots staan almal van ons se boompies, wow dit was lekker om te kon deel in hul blydskap!

Met ons voetjies wat effens pyn vat ons toe die pad terug aan. Bietjie getap, maar lekker om net nog die laaste rukkie in die natuur deur te bring. Terug by die terrein wag ons vir die tweede groep om terug te kom, maar met die wag saam word ons bederf met ‘n lekker ys koue geur-ysie om die droog en stof bietjie af te spoel. Die gevulde daggie word toe afgesluit met die “War Cry” kompetisie. 10 Groepe wat almal deelneem aan passie, hul kreed en unieke styl om die beeld van hul groep die beste uit te toon. Ai en net soos enige sport het mens altyd ‘n wenner… GROEP 6… Ja, die “Mighty Rangers” loop toe weg met die prys! Ek sal daai oomblik veraltyd in my hart vasskryf, om te kon deel hê aan die opwinding en blydskap omdat ons “War Cry” die beste was was meer as amazing.

Met bietjie van ‘n hartseer oog groet ons maatjies mekaar, sluit die dag af met blydskap en waardering. Dit was vir my ‘n besonderse ervaring. Iets wat ek verseker weer wil deel hê aan. Die mense, beplanning, warmte en uitleg van die hele dag was van topgehalte en ek het waardering in my hart vir almal se bydrae om sulke mooi opwindings aan sulke kindertjies te bied.

‘n Duisend dankies aan SOAPkidz, ‘n nie-winsgewende organisasie wat kwesbare kinders die wonder van die natuur leer en die eienaars van Rhino Park wat hierdie fantastiese ervaring moontlik gemaak het.


Pompom de-weeding and tree planting adventure

Report from Warrick

By Warrick Katzin- Finalist Mr South Africa 2010

It is 2010 with the month of January being almost over, and the long awaited day had finally arrived! The SOAPkidz Pompom de-weeding and tree planting adventure was held at the Rhino Park with fifty-three children from various homes and places of safety and fifty-three volunteers. With the help of various sponsors SOAPkidz was able to bring fun, together with phenomenal experiences and lessons which we all - children and volunteers alike - will take with us for the rest of our lives. If you think about it, our lives consist of continuous experiences and the more experiences you have been subject to, the bigger the lesson to be learnt and the more meaning life will give you.

The day started when the children arrived; T-Shirts were handed out, indemnity forms were signed, refreshments served and volunteers were debriefed. There was great enthusiasm in the air with the children running around bubbling with excitement for the day that lay ahead. The day’s events were split into three parts, namely: the Pompom de-weeding in the morning, water cascades in the early afternoon and lastly tree planting.

The morning consisted of children being placed into teams of five or six with an allocated team-leader and volunteers. The children were split from their friends into different groups. This was met with great objections from the children, but they were told that life will always throw us challenges in ways that we do not expect, we may not like it but the best lesson is that we will through this exercise gain new friendships and learn to lead even in the face of the unknown.

The challenge for the day was for the teams to collect the most Pompom weeds and to create a unique war cry as there were prizes to be won. At first the children were reluctant to express themselves, however, as the brain storming for a song and team name continued, the team soon bonded.

The Pompom weed, which was recently featured on Carte Blanche, is fast becoming one of South Africa’s most aggressive alien invaders; invading natural grasslands, open savanna and wetlands. This weed displaces native species, reducing both the biological diversity and carrying capacity of the marshes and the veld. In order to reduce the spreading of the seeds of the Pompom weed, the children were instructed to approach the weed with caution as if it were an alien from another planet by carefully throwing a plastic bag over the flower head before clipping it. With this new found knowledge the excitement increased and the challenge set, off they went into the bushveld; plastic bags and clippers in hand we were all keen to see how many bags could be filled. On returning from the bushveld the children played some water cascades led by the SOAPkidz adventure game volunteers. These games were well received as it cooled the children and brought forth all their leadership skills. In one game teams had to work together to balance a bucket of water on poles via ropes attached near the top of the pole and in another game teams had to strategize on how they would plug little holes running along a tube while one of their members tried to fill the tube with water; the aim was to allow the tennis ball inside to float to the top.

Lunch time arrived and a deafening silence fell over the venue as every child and volunteer enjoyed their meal which consisted of a chop, boerewors roll and a juice. Once everyone’s tummies were full we started our discussion on what each child learnt from the morning’s activities. The experience humbled me with some of the amazing traits that came out just from them being in nature and with new found friends. Compassion, laughter, team work, enthusiasm, positive energy, harmony, grace, joy, love, playfulness, bonding, sharing, gratitude and reward to name but a few things experienced.

While waiting for our transport for the afternoons activities as the truck could only take half the kids at a time, some of the boys and I got together to work off our lunch by doing some ‘push ups’.

Soon after our little workout we all climbed onto the truck en route to a nursery where each of us could personally choose a tree which we would get to plant. Once we got our trees, we got back onto the truck for a short ten minute journey to where the trees were going to be planted.

Once all the trees were planted we got back onto the truck and headed to base camp where a refreshing cold drink awaited all. A bit exhausted, each team was given the opportunity to perform their war cry. This generated an enormous amount of energy, enthusiasm and laughter from the children singing and dancing their hearts out.

A day for the history books in each of our lives. Thank you to SOAPkidz, the owners of the Rhino Park and everyone that was involved with the event and making the day possible, a true experience we will all remember!!

Stay great
Warrick Katzin
Finalist Mr South Africa 2010


POMPOM DEWEEDING AND TREE PLANTING ADVENTURE

First time volunteer. This is my survival story

By Andrew Louw

Where to start??? So much happened on Saturday 23 Jan and most of it was brand new to me. I have very limited experience with the little monsters that is supposed to turn into human beings one day but I wanted to do something “good” for a change. Life has been good to me and not so kind to so many others around us.

This was my very first SOAPkidz adventure and absolutely no mercy was shown...suddenly I was made group leader having to take responsibility for SIX kids and their actions (Oh the horror) AND now I have to be a reporter and come up with some kind of coherent write-up of the day. Eish...

You know what? It wasn’t that bad...to be honest it was actually GREAT. (And I hope my report does not totally suck)

The drive behind the day’s events was to try and get rid of quite a pretty little flower called a Pompom. The flower is small and a delicate pink and it looks like, jip, you guessed it, a pompom. I was VERY surprised to find out how tough this little thing is and as always, looks are deceiving (hmm there might be a lesson in there somewhere). The pompom has a root structure built like a brick outhouse and like the Hulk it gets bigger every time it gets hurt. This little thing grows, spreads and springs up bigger and stronger every time it is burnt down or ripped out. It is hard to eradicate and it smothers everything else trying to co-exist with it. A combination of gentleness and sneakiness is needed to get rid of this alien.

And this was the theme for the day. We were a interstellar fleet of 60 highly specialized Pompom eradicators from the starship Soapkidz. We infiltrated the enemy stronghold and like Ninja’s sneaked up on the enemy and gently decapitated them (they have seeds that spread with the wind and shaking them would have resulted in the spread of the enemy). Poison was then (at a later stage; because the owner did not wish the children to be harmed) applied to the neck area and they would turn into ashes like the vampires slain by Blade.

This stealth was actually hard work and after about an hour and a half of gorilla warfare the troops tiredly returned to base camp with their trophies in the form of heavy white bags full of enemy heads (flowers). AND THEN the fun started. Our victory was celebrated by contest in skill, brainpower, speed and waterproofness. We basically got absolutely soaking wet playing games where the teams had to balance buckets of water on poles via ropes attached near the top. And plugging hundreds of little holes in a tube by sacrificing our own body parts while someone (who needed some practice in aiming with a bucket full of water I might add) tried to fill the tube with water and so float the prize inside the tube to the top where we could snatch it.

Speed was tested in games such as Touch and evasive maneuvers were practiced during “Middle mannetjie”. Teamwork and many other skills were honed to a razors edge by tests I cannot divulge to the general public. I could tell you but I will then have to kill you ☺ (...ummm I don’t know the names of the games hehehe)

The banquette was then served and we dined on wors-rolls from the other side of the galaxy and the sweetest nectar. (Incredible how ravenous behaving yourself like a kid makes you)

Now it was time for the much anticipated ceremonies and commendations for acts of bravery, etc. The war cries of each team raised the roof and made the enemy shiver in their beds of soil. The trophies brought from the killing fields were examined and judged. Team number 1 won for the most Pompoms brought back and team number 6 won for the best war cry performed (they were amazing...my team number 3 took third place in each event ☺. I am now a proud SOAPkidz daddy)

A general lucky draw was also done and the home, Kidicol won an adventure in the Pretoria Zoo. An awesome and fun prize.

Then it was time to pay our respects to the fallen. The transporter ships arrived cleverly disguised as earther trucks and we were whisked away to a “nursery” where we each got to select our own tree. These were solemnly marked with our very own “Dog tags” and we were then transported to the greener fields on the other side of the fence. Here holes were in readiness and waiting for our sacrifices. We each planted our tree on a fresh bed of fertilizer - I hope they all grow big and strong.

It was getting late and the sun might have been setting in the most glorious orange and red colors reflecting of the golden fields we were surrounded with...but I really don’t know because I was absolutely knackered and did not notice these things anymore. The kidz were on their way back to their secret identities and homes and the weary SOAPkidz team gathered for a quiet debriefing. Spirits were still high as the day was an absolute screaming success. Most of the feedback was great with only one or two small things having gone kinda wrongish. Two or three suggestions were made on possible improvements (and the tired first time volunteers told what they did wrong). Nothing much of real value could be added, criticized on or improved on. SOAPkidz is one impressive, smooth and well oiled machine. It is really a great and beautiful thing to belong to. HIP-HIP HURRAY SOAPkidz, and another piep...

My impressions and lessons learned. Well, I could get all deep and psychological and tree hugging but FOR ME the greatest thing was getting the kids out of their usual routines and everyday lives that probably continuously remind them of what they don’t have.

They were swept away and put in a strange new environment and teamed up with people they don’t know....the stiffness quickly disappeared and 99% of them had an absolute blast of a time. Even the 1% that resisted the fun will have something “new” to talk about for the next 6 months. New things were experienced, new friends made and new life skills learned (perhaps only on a subconscious level as the activities kept our minds and bodies busy).

I hope that Karen’s (The founder and director of SOAPkidz) goal was also achieved in that the kidz now have an interest in nature. I hope that they would be curious as some might not have understood the concept of the alien plants. I hope they find their way to a library and go look it up, or ask their biology teacher. Hey, I also got to behave like a teenager and scream and shout and run and the other grownups actually expect it from you….now where else can THAT kind of thing happen?? ☺ (Yes it’s a selfish reason I know, but it will also continue to be one of my main reasons to return for more of this torture)

It was an absolutely awesome day and I had MUCH fun. The SOAPkidz team is the greatest crowd ever...and the chicks are hot☺

P.S. SOAPkidz requirements are that some of the things you bring to their events are tekkies and a sense of humor.

  • For your own sake also remember some kind of energy drink...these monsters will tire you (or perhaps I am just a little unfit and should lose the love handles).
  • My second tip would be, DON’T organize anything else for “after” a SOAPkidz day. (Sorry I did not show at your b-day party Werner, I was there in my exhausted fever dreams LOL)

P.P.S. The alien Pompom’s ichor is bitter, don’t wipe your lips


POMPOM DEWEEDING AND TREE PLANTING ADVENTURE

Event Info

SOAPkidz has been invited to attend a pompom deweeding and tree planting adventure in Bronkhorstspruit

Date: 23 January 09h00 till 17h00
Venue: Rhino Park (Bronkhorstspruit)
Children: Boys and girls age 11 - 16

The 40 children from various homes will be divided into 8 teams and they will be given different challenges. There will be a SOAPkidz volunteer with every group at all times. Besides the picking of the flowers for about an hour, each child will get the opportunity to choose his own tree and then plant it. Other adventures will follow and the winning team gets an opportunity to have another adventure at the Pretoria Zoo.

Every volunteer must bring the following:

  • Your sense of humour
  • Warm clothes (it can get cold on the trucks)
  • Comfortable shoes (tekkies)
  • Hat and sun tan lotion.

DIRECTIONS TO RHINO PARK FROM PRETORIA:

Drive on the N4 freeway direction Witbank.
Take the Rayton, Cullinan, Bapsfontein off-ramp at the top of the Donkerhoek mountain,
Drive through the tollgate.
After the tollgate (± 150m) turn right onto the R515 towards Bapsfontein.
Drive on for approx. 4km.
Turn left at the McCarthy 4X4 club, Rhino Park signboard.
Follow the signboards to the clubhouse.

GPS co-ordinates: S25 49,890 E28 32,333

Please contact Noeksie aka Karen for more information at 083 975 2700




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