The survival camp of the year didnít just happen overnight. It took weeks of careful planning. The event location was a difficult choice, but after a lot of driving, scouting and walking Dave eventually decided on a piece of land which is used by the SANDF. Luckily and with the help of Jan Lubbinge we managed to get the venue free of charge to SOAP KIDZ. As usual preparations started a week before when everything had to be pre packed and sorted. On Thursday Dave loaded some of the stuff for the survival camp. Early Friday morning the 4x4 s arrived and we started unloading the equipment and food needed for the camp.
The camp started with a lot off hustle and bustle as some kids didnít have transport and they had to be picked up at Danville and Queenswood. Volunteers had to be reorganized to sort out the logistical problems, but luckily SOAP KIDZ has learned to be adaptable and some last minute cancellations due to unforeseen circumstances from some homes end up in a survival camp for 8 kids instead of 30. This didnít dampen the spirit and everything still went on according to plan. The kids arrived between 16:00 and 17:00. They were dropped at the entrance and had to walk into the desolate piece of land and had to find their campsite for the weekend. After some moaning and groaning they arrived at the camp where they were awaited by some friendly volunteers with cold drinks. After that the kids were welcomed and ground rules were set and explained to them. They all received their backpacks filled with utensils for the weekend. Then started the icebreakers where they learned each otherís names. Due to the fact that it was such a small group it didnít take long.
After that they were divided into two groups and were briefly explained the basics of leadership. They were given time to choose a leader and after that while it was still daylight they had to build their own shelters. Team 1 went with Theo who happened to have chain saw and he cut down a blue gum tree, cut it into logs and team 1 carried them back and started their shelter. They got some tarpaulin and some camouflage (from the store) and started by putting their poles onto an existing concrete structure, placing the tarpaulin over it and then the camouflage over that and tying it down. Team 2 found some 2x2 wooden poles in the store and made a V shape tent. They dug small holes to place their poles in, made the frame and secured it with nylon rope. They then put the tarpaulin over and then completed it by placing the camouflage netting over it and holding it all down with bricks.
By that time the mosquitoes bugged everybody and the teams had to make up ďBug spraysĒ which was essentially Citronella oil and lotion Once that was done it was supper time. The Kids had a feast on the Vienna rolls topped with tomato sauce and to wash it down flavoured cold-drinks. After that they had free time for and hour. They played mainly football (donated by Marcelle Martin). Others explored the range area which was quite a large area with dunes and tyres and old vehicles which the SANDF use for target practice. We then got all the Kidz together and gave the leaders head lamps because now it was time for the night hike.
We started off at about 20h30 and followed the path for approximately 20 minutes. The route guided by our volunteers was not easy going, but there was method in our madness. It took us about half an hour of hard going to reach the top. But once there it was worthwhile because the view was magnificent. We had such beautiful panoramic views. In the north east was Unisa all bright and light up. To the north was Pretoria itself and the Telkom tower all lit up in blue. To the west was the number 1 military hospital complex also brightly lit up with greens and reds. Towards the south all the little suburbs with the street lights on. The weather was slightly overcast but warm. We stayed up there for about an hour with the Kidz exploring the area. Now it was time to come down. The Kidz didnít need their headlamps because the ambience glowing of the surrounding light made us able to see pretty clearly. By this time it was about 22:00 and the Kidz helped themselves to coffee and cold drink and biscuits and then it was time for bed. This ended the first day.
Saturday some of us awoke with the chirping of birds and others were only up and about by 07:00. The kidz breakfast were hid in the bundu nearby and with the skills the Kidz had learned the previous day, they were told to go and explore and find their breakfast. It took them only approximately 15 minutes to locate the breakfast and bring it back to their shelters they had made. They proceeded to prepare their breakfast. After breakfast the Kidz washed their utensils and got together to hear the program for the rest of the day and the rules that go with it The teams were getting quite clever in finding their food. The kids had some fun with a tyre rolling competition, not knowing they were actually helping Shaun to put down the tyres so that later it would be part of the tactical training.
Shaun took one group for tactical training shooting with an air rifle. The other group was taught first aid by Stephanie in which they were shown to make splints and practice on each other with broken legs and broken arms. They then had to make stretchers out of wooden poles and nylon rope, which was covered with tarpaulin. They then had to carry an injured person on the make shift stretcher for a short distance. Later on the two teams alternated with team 2 going to the tactical shooting and team 1 going to the first aid section.In the meantime Jan Lubbinge arrived with a variety of different types of weapons. After the first aid and tactical trading shooting was over, the Kidz took a break, had some refreshments.
In the meantime Dave Jan and Shaun (all trained instructors either being in the police the SANDF and/or belonging to shooting clubs) started setting up a range for rifles, pistols and shotguns. For the next few hours the Kidz were shown safety procedures onthe range, how to safely handle weapons and fire-arms, and what to do in the event of a misfire or stoppage.Firstly they started off with a point 22 rifle, then they progressed to 9 mm pistols, and then towards the end the shotgun.After the shooting the Kidz tried their hand at making fire without matches, using magnifying glasses. Most of them succeeded. This taught them patience! After the events of the day were over the Kidz had free time for about an hour. The kids amused themselves with some catapults and BB guns under the supervision of the volunteers. The kids had to collect and build their own fires in a safe area.
Once again they used their experience gained earlier the day to braai their own food. For some of them it was a first time experience to braai and theyenjoyed it tremendously. From time to time one kid will ask for guidance on how to braai the meat. After supper the kids gathered to find out more about the big surprise. The kidz learned that while they were preparing supper the lady volunteers headed up for the same hill of the previous night hike. They had to camouflage themselves for the evening's bundu activities namely a lantern crawling. The two teams had to, get to their location, undetected and unseen, and see who got closest to the ladies without being detected. Jan and Wynand also left earlier and positioned themselves at a certain place and waited in ambush for whomever was unfortunate enough to go past them Theo also had the same idea and placed himself on the opposite side of the hill and waited in ambush for the team.
Dave and Cornelia went with team 1 to lend some assistance and direction. The teams tried very hard to lay low, leopard crawl and signal to one another with small red lights and hand signals. Although the teams tried very hard and got very close indeed, both teams got ambushed in the end. Great credit goes to the team leaders for getting the teams so close to the target. Eventually the time came when we had to go down. The Kidz wanted to carry onbut it was getting late and time to call it a day. After arriving back at base the Kidz were hyperactive but were told by Theo that they had to crawl in for the night.
And what a night it was! After eventually getting everybody into their shelters, Theo had to reprimand the Kidz to get them to go and sleep. In the middle of the night there was great concern as it had started raining and their was some doubt as to how waterproof the shelters of the Kidz were. However, after a downpour we checked on the kidz and found that they were all dry and fast asleep, they had done such a good job of their shelters that they remained dry. This ended the second day.
The next morning Theo hid the breakfast away in the veld again. By now the Kidz were very adept at finding their food. They made their breakfast and then it was time for a bit of fun. First of all we had an apple bobbing contest where the 2 teams had to get as many apples form the barrel of water as quickly as possible needless to say there was some cheating in a nice way and at the end of it team 2 won.
The next event was the gumboots story. Each team had to fill a bucket of water by way of their gumboots. Each of the kids had their gumboots filled with water and had to walk about 10 metres and empty it in to another bucket and the team that does it in the fastest time wins. Team 2 used a trailer to get their water when theirs had finished and I think it was quite innovated and it shows that these kids are quite clever. As all good things the camp also has its end, it was time to pack up and go home. The Kidz took their shelters down. Put everything back where it was supposed to be, tidied up the store room. Johannes the caretaker of the site had them collect all of the litter that was lying around, There was not much as the camp was already pretty clean when we got there. They Kidz helped to pack everything on to the bakkie, they then put everything back to the same position it was in the store room. After everything was cleaned up the last event started: The Prize giving. It was a difficult choice but in the end team 2 was chosen because from the start they showed team spirit and worked together as a unit. ( also had a fuller bag of rubbish ) and so they won the overall prize.
Once done with that, some volunteers had the job to take the kids from Danville and Queenswood back and the others had to wait until the homes came and picked their kids up. This ended the first and very successful survival camp of SOAP KIDZ.
From SOAP KIDZ side, we just want to thank Dave for doing the planning and organising of the survival camp and for contacting such wonderful new volunteers, to Karen (Noeksie) for getting the donations of food and packing the containers. A special thank you to all the volunteers. Without our volunteers we can forget to help the kids at all. And despite the fact that we only had 10 kids on the camp, they enjoyed it tremendously and wanted us to extend the camp for the rest of December. As most of us see in time that you may not get even a thank you at the end of the weekend where you have given 110% of yourself, is always heart warming to see that the kids really enjoyed them. We may not have the answers to their pain and suffering, but as we have found so many times that just to be in nature often triggers the healing process. We are the mere guidelines in their healing progression