Johan Hus Leadership Camp 2015

Robin Fokker & Yanga Manyakanyaka
26 February 2015

For their 2015 prefect leadership training experience, a class of 14 students and 2 teachers from Johan Hus primary school came to Nature’s Valley last weekend. During their excursion, we planned a few activities in the area to make their experience the best we could.

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On Friday the 20th of February, after the tents were set up by the NVT team, the class was welcomed in Nature’s Valley. After a delay in their journey, the class had some time to put their things in the tent before we rushed off to the INGWE forest adventures obstacle course for the class to learn about teamwork and leadership. After a short introduction by the INGWE staff, the class was divided into two teams. Both teams were given time to design their own team name, flag and war cry before starting with some team building and leadership exercises. The teams were finally called “The Power Gang” and “The Tigers” both with their own flag and their own war cry.

During the exercises, both teams did a different exercise and switched around when both were completed. One of the exercises focused on teamwork, where a group was to get numbered tires in the right order on one large wooden pole, being able to move only 1 at a time, and no moves or direction of moves could be repeated twice in a row. The leadership exercise was about getting your team from one side of a large beam to the other in a right order without anybody being able to speak.

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After these exercises, a final exercise took place including both teams and both teamwork and leadership. One person of each team was to be blindfolded and guided through a field where hoola-hoops were imagined as landmines and the blindfolded kids could not step on these.

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After a very successful session, we continued to the obstacle course. A relatively long course where teamwork and good leadership was key. The course started off with a large wall which the kids had to scale using a rope and their classmates to support them. After all kids were over, the teacher made the climb himself. This first obstacle was followed by a course where the kids had to push a tractor wheel over a small hill to then lift it on a large wooden pole. With teamwork, the kids were able to do this quite quickly and efficiently.

The next obstacle was more an interactive puzzle team building exercise. Each team had 4 logs. 3 short and 1 long and they had to use these to get one of their classmates to the other side of a gap. After a few long jumps and a couple of broken rules, all kids made it across. This was followed by an obstacle that required the kids to lower a beam, balancing on a wall, after which one person would get on, walk to the center, lower the beam on the other side and walk off. The rules were a bit vague at the start, but after some time, everybody safely made it across the beam.

The next obstacle was perhaps the funniest one. The kids were to tiger through 2 small channels, covered with a net and filled with muddy water. The kids were told they would get dirty, but non of them expected this. Yet, every single child made it through successfully, and even their teacher gave it a shot. After this, the kids had to work their way through a jungle of tires hanging on ropes. They had to swing their way from one tire to another to reach the other side without touching the ground. While not everyone kept to the rules of not touching the ground, all kids made it to the other side after seeing their teacher swing through the tires like he just came from the set of Tarzan.

The last, but definitely not the least obstacle was a relatively large construction. The kids had to climb a net to get on top of a tower. They would then have to find a gap in yet another net spanned from one side of the tower to the other. Under this gap was a pool of about a meter deep, filled to the edge with water. And as you may have already guessed, the kids had to jump into this pool to finish the course. While some kids weren't all that certain of their swimming abilities anymore once they reached the top, all kids made it to the end successfully to receive their certificate for completing the INGWE obstacle course. The class then quickly rushed back to the camp site for warm showers and a hot meal. The day was concluded with a movie, yet not everyone was able to finish the movie awake after the long but certainly fun day.

On the following day, the kids made a hike around Nature’s Valley, through the fynbos and the forest. The rain did not stop coming down for the entire day, so sadly no pictures were taken. However, it was one of the best hikes that anyone had done yet. After making ourway through the forest on ground level, we started the ascend to the top of the mountain and into the fynbos. After about half an hour and countless amounts of steps, the kids finally made it to the top, exhausted but still enjoying the view of Nature’s Valley and the Indian Ocean. After some time to rest, we continued through the fynbos, being shown the different species and the importance of the ecosystem by Cindy. We crossed the road to enter the forest on the other side. A little more dense but beautiful nonetheless. After we had returned to Nature’s Valley, we quickly rushed back to the campsite to get dry around the fire and prepare dinner. Both teams were to prepare their own potjiekos after which the NVT team were to judge the two teams on their cooking abilities. The decision was difficult to make, but the Tigers took the victory by using their teacher’s not-so-secret recipe.

The evening was once again concluded with a movie. A horror movie this time, as the kids requested. However, almost no one was able to finish the movie without falling asleep, proving that the hike was certainly successful.

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The next morning, the kids packed their things and said their goodbyes before the taxi driver took them back to their school. The weekend was a very successful one, leaving the children with both knowledge and experience in teamwork, leadership and nature conservation. Now, all we can do is hope that this is knowledge and experience is put into good work by the kids, and their teachers.