Hiking - Olympic Friendship and Peace Initiative
A MESSAGE OF PEACE AND HOPE
By PHILLIP VAN DER MERWE
Most of the time we are all so involved with our day to day activities that we tend to loose sight of the bigger picture. What is it that we are really doing? Where are we going? The latest SOAPkidz event during which we spent a weekend in the Magaliesberg with 20 teenage boys brought these questions into sharp focus and answered them clearly.
According to the SOAPkidz mission statement “We connect children with nature whilst fostering a caring environment in which they can experience love and personal growth.” Nice words and lovely sentiments put into practice in a magnificent way during the weekend. It was a case of back to the roots and essence of what in my opinion SOAPkidz is all about.
In preparation for the weekend the SOAPkidz network went into action. Noeksie started tapping resources and pulling all those strings that draw the various groups together to make the event happen. Foremost, the Mountain Club of South Africa who paid for the accommodation and provided a worthy goal for the weekend. Their goal was to join with 205 other mountaineering groups in summiting the highest mountain in their area and together send out the Olympic message of peace and hope. At the end of another string we had the Maria Klopper Children’s home who brought most of the children, provided transport, food and helped with supervision. More strings pulled and Mr Bartlett provided his facilities at half price, Mondi came forward with T-shirts and caps for the children, the IQ Group stepped up and last but not least the SOAPkidz volunteers showed up and did what they do.
And this is what the volunteers did with the kids – a night hike, a 10km hike through Kranskloof, kloofing in Grootkloof, summiting the highest mountain in the North West province, extreme frisby games, canoeing competitions, swimming, campfire evenings, providing hearty meals and listening to and making each child feel special. All of the above done in the beautiful surroundings of the unspoilt and rugged Magaliesberg.
And how did the kids react? Well, Richard carried a 3kg rock for ten kilometers because it was shaped like a heart. Someone else showed me a rucksack full of rocks they had collected along the way. Bethuel aka BA drew positive comments from strangers due to his example and way with the smaller boys. Pieter, without a word of complaint and in his quiet and gentle way, stumbled over every rock and yet made it to the top and back. Ronay, who does not walk well and only has the use of one hand, showed strength and determination that made me envious. Everyone helped with chores, no one walked past one piece of litter and the boys all helped one another. No fights, no arguments, just enthusiastic children having a great time that they will remember for the rest of their lives.
The camp is now history and emotionally and physically drained I am left with the lingering images of orphans and abandoned children, of dropping William off where he lives in Westfort the old leper colony, his dad walking 10km to meet him, Joline at the biggest house in Danville, Bethuel’s mother who would not stop saying “Thankyou” and Noeksie who would not stop crying.
Do I now know what and why I am doing this? Not really, all I know is that I can and that I must.
HIKING IN THE MAGALIESBERG
Date: 22 – 24 August 2008 (Friday 18h00 till Sunday 15h00)
Venue: Kranskloof Trails and Mt Sanctuary Park
Children: 20 boys from Danville and Maria Klopper Children’s home
20 Eager boys and 6 more eager volunteers are meeting Friday the 22th of August at 18h00 at Barletts farm for a fun filled weekend in the mountains. (See directions below)
The Mountain Club sponsored the accommodation after Mr Bartlett was kind enough to let us have the accommodation at half price and I’m still looking for a sponsor for the food – but do not fear – we will get it.
I definitely am going to try and get the group to do the kloofing bit – especially since we have the best medical aid available one can wish for. According to the Mountain Club, it’s too cold to abseil down the waterfall so we’ll try that bit when it’s a bit warmer.
There are sleeping 20 bunks so bringing a tent is advisable since we have 20 boys. We have plenty of spare tents so just shout if you need me to bring any extras.
The volunteers are:
Cynthia, Nico, Phil, myself, Steve and Carna. The homes will send volunteers as well so we should be fine.
What to expect:
Nico will keep the boys entertained for the evening with a night hike while the cooks prepare supper. The boys will sleep in the bungalows and the volunteers can pitch their tents in a quiet spot away from all the snoring.
After breakfast we are all going on a hike or two. There are two well marked circular trails graded as easy to moderate and they are each about 8 – 10 km long. Links between the trails allow for shorter walks for the less experienced hiker. The Frithia Trial goes up nearly to the top of the Magaliesberg and then down the Kranskloof. The trail begins and ends at a base camp that is in a dense clump of indigenous trees. The Moepel Trail winds long through the mountain and kloofs and returns via interesting “mushroom” rock formations. And for the brave ones, kloofing in Grootkloof can be added. A nice potjie around the fire will end a perfect day.
After a spectacular SOAP moment, we pack up and drive to Mt Sanctuary Park where we meet the rest of the Mountain Club crowd before setting off to the highest peak in the Magaliesberg as part of the Olympic youth initiative. (See details below). After lunch we walk back to the vehicles – filled with a great sense of awe and grateful for the wonderful experience.
WHAT TO BRING:
- A sense of humor
- Camping gear (Tent, sleeping mattress, sleeping bag, chair, torch)
- Eating utensils (knife, fork, spoon, mug, plate)
- Hiking gear – hiking boots/tekkies, hat, backpack, water bottle, snacks, sun block, insect repellant and comfortable hiking clothes.
- Swimming costume and comfortable old tekkies for kloofing.
- Towel and warm clothes
DIRECTIONS TO BARTLETT’S FARM:
From Pretoria or Jhb, follow the R104 beyond Haartbeespoort Dam, past Mooinooi, and past Buffelspoort. Turn left at the 3-way stop, and follow Sparkling Waters Hotel signs. Continue +/-1.5 km pas the Hotel entrance (on a gravel road) until R34 and the Kranskloof sign on the right. If on the Platinum Highway turn off left at the Buffelspoort/Marikana Resorts sign.
OLYMPIC YOUTH INITIATIVE – 24 AUGUST 2008:
On 24th August 2008 the Olympic Games in Beijing end and the Olympic torch will be doused. The Italian Alpine Club have arranged an youth expedition to Mt Olympus, where they plan on summiting and lighting a replica of the Olympic torch at 12 noon on that day. Concurrently there will be youth summits of various peaks throughout Italy on the same day. The organisers’ aim is to have youth on the summits of 205 peaks (205 being the number of countries that participate in the Olympics). So far the Italians have 183 summits ’covered’ and other Federations asked if they may participate. .Other participants so far are UK, Slovenia and Macedonia. The youth of the Johannesburg and Magaliesberg Sections of the Mountain Club are planning to the highest peak in the Magaliesberg to in this UIAA Olympic ’Friendship and Peace’ Initiative on the 24 August 2008 - to reach the peak at approx 10h00. Youths form some of the Cape Sections will also be participating on Table Mountain and Helderberg.