The morning at Groenkloof Nature Reserve started off with one of the most beautiful sunrises I have seen and a promise of a glorious day to follow. I was not to be disappointed.
I arrived at Groenkloof just after 7am to find Theo already unpacking the car. Cynthia and Dave arrived shortly thereafter as Theo and I started preparing the soup. The next to arrive was Jeremy and Camilla followed closely by the rest of the volunteers. In no time at all Theo had delegated the work and the cool drink was made, tables set up and soup cups laid out. Volunteers were soon helping themselves to coffee and were called together for a short briefing session whilst Tamzin took the kidz that had already arrived and entertained them with some “ ice breaking ” activities. There were a number of new volunteers who were quickly brought up to speed by the input from several of the more experienced volunteers present.
A little wait for the rest of the kidz to arrive and Franz and Theo then proceeded to split them into groups – the inevitable, “But please Oom can I be with...” and the standard response, “No! You
have to stay with your group.” Whilst volunteers were being assigned to all the groups some of the kidz that had arrived early had the opportunity to visit a number of horses paddocked nearby. Feeding the horses quickly turned into touching and then kissing them. Never before have I seen so much attention and love lavished on animals or such wondrous smiles on children’s faces.
After this little interlude we were assigned to groups and all ushered to a central point to get onto the truck to be transported to the “work site.” We were split into 2 work groups – some of us got off the truck for a practical lesson on soil erosion prevention while the rest continued up the hill to learn about invasive plant eradication. I was with the Erosion group. We were sent off to collect litter while we waited for the bakkie to come back with bags to be filled with sand. We then regrouped and were taken to the donga where we collected rocks. There was a fierce competition to collect the most rocks especially those close to the work site. A quick lesson was given by Nature Conservation personnel in packing sandbags into the donga in the most effective way to rehabilitate the soil and prevent future erosion.
In the meanwhile, under the guidance and watchful eye of Dina’s Nature Conservation team, the second work group was busy attacking unwanted Blue Gum trees with pangas and “Lumberjack” poison. With enthusiasm in abundance and sweat pouring, my team hacked into the plants. Their enjoyment was obvious and the thought crossed my mind that giving young boys pangas and something to chop is as good as giving them matches and something to burn.
By this time lunch had arrived and kidz were soon assembled into straight lines for a quick water/cool drink refill and hot dog – The Q just never came to an end until there was no food left – with some the kidz coming back for their 3rd and 4th hot dog.
It was decided after lunch that due to time constraints we would be unable to swap the teams around. With a stroke of genius Theo suggested that we all hike back to the entrance of the reserve. Immediately the competition was on as to who would get home first and as to who could collect the most rubbish along the way.
Back at the parking lot teams were once more assembled into their groups and they were given the opportunity to show off their war cries and team song. Team 7 were the clear winners of the litter collection competition and were awarded a small prize for their efforts. I must say that the competition in the litter collection was fierce as Groenkloof is a beautifully clean park and litter is hard to find.
All in all a lovely fun filled day with many new experiences for all concerned. A special word of thanks to the Groenkloof Nature Conservation personnel and Pick n Pay Hyper Fairie Glen who made all of this possible and a fervent SOAPkidz wish that a day such as this can be repeated time and time again.