Grade 9 Leadership Trip to Spirit of Adventure

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The current Grade 9 boys are passionate about outdoor leadership activities and this was reflected in the 96% attendance rate at this year’s course. This is a definite result of greater parental and staff support for such activities which form a crucial part of the education and development of our young leaders. 9D are to be congratulated on their 100% attendance. The grade was divided into two groups and their camp took place over two and a half days at in the Shongweni Dam and Game Reserve. The 1700 hectare reserve is approximately 40km from Durban and contains buffalo, rhino, giraffe, a variety of antelope and 200 species of birds.
After a short bus ride to Shongweni the boys were welcomed by the SOA facilitators and briefed on the “Mission” style structure of the course. They were then divided into random groups for the remainder of the excursion. This year’s course had been completely redesigned as the grade 9s of 2016 really struggled in the extreme summer heat. This is not to say that the course had been made easier but points to the need to constantly review the course structure to make sure that it meets the leadership goals of the school, and allows each learner to utilise his own skill set within their own level of ability. Many of the boys did not like the fact that they were being forced to work with peers who were not necessarily in their class or circle of friends but after the purpose was explained to them they attacked the upcoming tasks enthusiastically. Once they were in their new groups the boys did an orienteering activity in which they accumulated points.
Day One
Group 1: Assault Course, Oliver’s Travels & Snake Pit – always firm favourites these activities challenge one’s fears of height and enclosed spaces. Team work and faith in your team mate’s abilities lead to many of the boys overcoming their fears. Fortunately the weather was fairly cool and good times were achieved on the assault course. Although very daunted by the height of Oliver’s Travels the boys all completed this challenging task. After this they returned to camp for a short briefing for their camp fire cooking. At the grade 9 Information Evening I spent some time explaining to the parents how important it is that the boys acquire cooking skills – clearly many parents took this to heart and the boys really got stuck into cooking their potjie – no mess, no burnt food, and no cut fingers! After dinner the boys were briefed on their night mission which included abseiling down the dam wall, a water challenge and kayaking. Abseiling at night with just glow sticks to guide you is quite daunting but the boys and staff embraced this activity.
 Group 2: As we all know from the grade 8 year our boys really enjoy braaing and I ensured that this now formed part of their night out of camp. The afternoon was spent creating shelters out of poles and bivvy sheets in the forest area adjacent to the dam – here the boys saw zebra, monkeys, impala, and numerous bird species, including two impressive fish eagles. The boys started braai fires and prepared a hearty evening meal. For many this was their first experience of a night under the stars and very soon there were questions about wild animals and the like being whispered around the communal fire. As the evening progress the boys played touch and soccer and were exhausted by the time it was lights out.
 
Day Two
Group 1 and Group 2: Day two confronted our boys with the new activities which included a cliff abseil and new rock climb. The cliff abseil is very different to the dam wall as there is massive exposure as you go over the edge – one feels as if one is abseiling down into the entire gorge. All boys completed this task and this is evidence of the team comraderie and support that was developing. After lunch the boys built rafts and made their way to Waterworld. Here they were faced with a four metre cliff jump into the dam and Cliff Hanger – here they had to traverse a seven metre section of the cliff which disappears into the dam. Safety was reinforced with the boys over and I was impressed with how they took the dangerous aspect of these activities very seriously.
In the evening group 1 bivvied and group 2 showed off their potjie skills.
Day Three
Group 1: An early start saw this group pack up camp and enjoy a healthy breakfast.
Group 2:  After breakfast this group rotated through the Assault Course, Oliver’s Travels & Snake Pit.
Once all the groups were back at base camp points were collated to determine the winning teams and a review of what leadership skills had been learned was completed.
All in all, the amended programme was a great success and I would like to thank the staff of DHS and SOA who assisted in the smooth running of the course. I would also like to thank the parents who had faith in what we offer at DHS and entrusted their sons to us for the duration of the course.
Ian Lewis
Head: Outdoor Leadership Activities

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