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South Africa Winter Camp 2001

Project Dates: July 7-12, 2001

Campers at the 2001 Winter Camp in South Africa

South African Winter Camp a “Wild” Success

by Grant and Kim Chick and Joel Meeker

A tremendous spirit of cooperation, unity and teamwork was the hallmark of the South African Youth Camp held in the Lapalala (“place of sleep” in the South Sotho language) Game Reserve from July 7 to 12. Twenty-three youths from Johannesburg, Durban and the United States, plus six staff members attended a six-day course at the Lapalala Wilderness School in the 36,000-hectare reserve located 320 kilometers north of Johannesburg in the Limpopo province.

Activities included daily Christian Living classes, white-water inner tubing, an interpretive nature hike, a waterstudies course, spoor molding (where campers learned to identify the “spoor” or tracks of different animals), canoeing, raft building, team-building obstacle courses, stargazing and the very popular “mud-sharing activity.”

The game reserve shelters an impressive variety of African wildlife including impala, kudu and other antelope, zebra, wildebeest, giraffe, warthog, cape buffalo, monkey, baboon, hippopotamus, crocodile, leopard and black and white rhino. Campers and staff could spot some of these animals while participating in different camp activities. Monkeys would occasionally come right into camp looking for food, and dorm windows had to be closed securely when the campers were out on activities, in order to prevent uninvited “monkey business” from occurring in the dorms.

The camp had a real outdoor flavor with all meals being eaten outside in a boma (enclosure) around a campfire.

The campers themselves cooked most of those meals over open fires, which was an exciting new experience for many of them.

The final highlight of the camp was the opportunity to feed and touch Bwana, a 10-year-old black rhino orphan. This was a rare opportunity as there are only approximately 3,400 of this endangered species left in the world. The campers could feed Bwana by placing their hands on his bottom lip and allowing him to scoop the food off their hands with his prehensile top lip.

We regretted the absence of campers from Zimbabwe, unable to attend this year because of difficulties in that country.

The camp maintained its international flavor however, due to the presence of Mr. and Mrs. Joel Meeker and their two daughters from St. Louis, Missouri. Mr. Meeker oversaw the Christian Living courses presented each evening. Laetitia Bernal from Bordeaux, France, and Renée Dean from Sydney, Australia, served on the staff as volunteers from the United Youth Corps International Service Projects team. Rounding out the staff were Grant and Kim Chick from the Durban, South Africa, congregation.

Plans are already beginning for next year’s Youth Camp in South Africa.

Participants from other countries would be welcome!

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