An early morning start from Hartbeespoort with the two Rob’s. Time for a quick cup of coffee while loading the car before we set off at a slower than expected pace owing to the fact that the windscreen was covered in ice and our designated driver Rob B could only see out of a patch the size of a saucer. By the time we got to Jo’burg both ourselves and the car were slightly thawed. Despite the others lack of faith in my map reading skills (I have this theory that all roads lead to Soweto and manage to put it into practise every time I navigate through Jo’burg) we arrived safely at Delta Park to join the growing huddle of volunteers from RACO and SOAPkidz.
By the time the Kidz and our fearless leader Noeksie arrived there were so many volunteers that the RAC organizers were starting to look alarmed.In her usual style of a small and determined whirlwind Noeksie distributed SOAP & SOAPkidz shirts, backpacks, compasses, popcorn, water, rubbish bags and encouragement to everyone in sight whilst trying to play down a rumour that she had been waiting patiently at the wrong gate as everyone else gathered at the orienteering Start banner.
Then it was time for an introduction to orienteering from the RACO before we split into small teams for a more detailed explanation of maps, compasses, control points etc from the RACO mentors who would run with each team. Secretly sure that I would somehow manage to lead our team into the heart of Soweto despite the able assistance of Rob B and Dylan of RACO, I opted to carry the backpack of supplies and the rubbish bag and leave the complicated stuff to them and our enthusiastic kids. After collecting our starting time and the card to be punched at each control point the next thing we knew we were running across Delta searching for buildings, footbridges, boulders and treesmarked on our map. Any thoughts of collecting a full bag of rubbish vanished as the next 36 minutes were spent running, locating the orange control point bags, clipping our card, debating our position and running some more (occasionally in circles).
By the time we made the final sprint for the finish line I was puffing like a steam train and wondering just where my fitness had disappeared to. We crossed the finish line to the shout of “Ons is ‘n span” as proudly as if we had finished a marathon, and convinced we had won. Then it was time to collapse on the grass drinking water and eating popcorn while we watched the other teams dashing across the park and the finish line. I did notice that a fair percentage of the volunteers were looking as exhausted as I felt while the kids soon recovered to eat naartjies and argue good naturedly over tactics, running styles and what the results would be. I solved the problem of my empty rubbish bag by collecting all the rubbish from the finish line (assisted by my kidz team who were worried we would be disqualified for not contributing to the clean up!)
After the scores were tallied it was time for speeches and prize giving. Each team was rewarded with a sweets pack and had their photograph taken. In the end our team came second (the winning team taking about 34 minutes to complete the course). After group photographs it was time to bid farewell to the Kidz who were all looking happy but tired. A thank you song, big smiles, handshakes and hugs; and then they were heading to the bus and lunch.
Then it was time for the SOAPkidz volunteers to revive themselves with strong coffee brewed by Rob H, bad jokes at everyone’s expense and lunch. Plans for future expeditions and adventures for the Kidz were discussed as aching muscles were stretched in the sun, before we packed up our gear (including an impressive pile of collected rubbish)
I have this suspicion that I was not the only one to be heading home for an afternoon nap while resolving to get fitter before the next energetic SOAPkidz event.
A Special Thanks to
- RACO for organising the event and their assistance
- Print to Advertise for sponsoring the printing
- Cross Clothing for sponsoring the T-shirts
- Pureau for the water
- The SOAPkidz Crew for their time
"It was a wonderful experience especially after the unbelievable gestures of appreciation from the kidz at the end of the event even though I was not physically involved with them!"
"It was also a fantastic surprise to see sooo many helpers there, especially after I had voiced my negative feelings about 'them'!"
"I had a great morning - and the kids are so much fun to be with. Would love to get involved again - up for anything!"
"I’m sure the kids (and all the adults) enjoyed it. I found it a rewarding experience. We must look to doing this again."
"The orienteering event for the Abraham Kriel Home gave me an opportunity to share my enjoyment of the sport with those less fortunate than myself. I appreciated the efforts of young Charles who applied what he had learn't about compass work in his geography classes at school. He, along with his teamates, Eugene & Basie were full of energy until the last part of the course - looks like they are going to need more training! On the whole I was impressed by their positive attitude towards life and I wish them well."