FUN with the VOORTREKKERS
The Transvaal Voortrekkers held their 25th Sea-camp at Swartvlei Caravan Park the past week. There were almost 500 primary school children attending the camp. Each year group does its own learning activities varying from animal life, to sea life, seashore and marshland biospheres.
Every year, the Voortrekkers also do a project (or two) as a combined group, working towards helping those less privileged. This year they are sending school uniforms to needy children in the Cape Flats. They also had a drive called “‘n Baadjie vir ‘n maatjie” (a jacket for a friend). In the words of the camp director, Tekkies Kotze, “The kids went crazy!” and besides jackets, all kinds of clothing and shoes, even curtains and a few blankets and pillows, were carted down from Gauteng in a large trailer and a bakkie. These donations were sorted before they were delivered to the freshStart Recycle Swop-Shop’s storage container on Friday 7 July. We no longer have a neat little isle down the centre of the container… almost three quarters of the middle is taken up with these bags and bags of wonderful donations!
As part of their 25th celebrations, the Voortrekkers had a BIG party on Friday (07/07). Two long strips of white cloth (each 128m in length) were staked down the middle between two rows of tents. It took 20 minutes to get 534 children seated in 4 rows beside the “table”. Plates contained an iced cookie, a small box of Smarties, a packet of NikNaks, a lollypop, a “Swartvlei 25” badge and a memorial cup filled with fruit juice. After two short speeches and a prayer, the adults served the children hot dogs and more juice. Popular Afrikaans music was thumping through the loudspeakers and after all had eaten, some of the children danced to the catchy beat.
It was to this wonderful party that a group of our Swop-Shop children were invited. “When you have a party, you invite some friends”, and the Voortrekkers wanted to invite local kids to the party.” At 8 am the first children knocked on Naomi Grootboom’s (freshStart volunteer) door to make sure they had the date and time right. She told them to first go home and have some breakfast as they only had to be at the school by 11. They were too excited to give in and hung around all morning. Shortly after 11, we could tick off 36 names from the list of invited children. These kids were true ambassadors for freshStart and Smutsville. They were on their best behaviour and enjoyed every minute of the outing. As supervisors, freshStart volunteers Martie, Naomi, Rejoice, Senovia, Lindiwe, Lida, Christine and Leticia joined the throng. Irene met us at the camp to take photos and enjoy some Afrikaner culture!!
While waiting for the bus, we had a “picnic” with apples and bananas and took balls from the shop to play in the parking area. Finally the bus arrived with all those bags of donations which the kids helped carry to the storeroom. Then the real fun began! The exciting trip in a BIG, TALL bus to the Swartvlei Caravan Park. Here the children were taken into a tent where they each received a colourful fleece beanie and a bag full of creative activities, some of which they started doing, immediately!!. It was soon time for lunch… at that extraordinary one with the meters of white table cloths!
After the meal, the children could enjoy a variety of jumping castles which were scattered across the camp grounds. There were also two machines providing free candy floss! “Our” children could not believe their luck!! After they had been jumping, candy flossing and playing soccer, the kids moved to the far side of the camp ground where there was “wet fun” to be had with the older campers (and their invited friends!) They disappeared in the soap foam on the one side, and then ran, soap suds flying in the wind, to slide down the slip and slides next to it.
The sun was going down behind the dune and the campers were called to go and shower, it took us a good half an hour to get all our kids together, changed into dry clothing and each reunited with their shoes and sweaters which lay in piles next to the jumping castle. We counted, but there were only 35. Another count: still 35. Roll call. Keano was missing. A few fast runners went back to the jumping castles where they found him. He must have been playing somewhere out of sight when all were rounded up as he was quite innocent and oblivious to the fact that he was “missing”!!
Once all were in the bus, we sang our “baie dankie liedjie” (thank you very much song) to those who so generously treated us to an unforgettable day of food and fun.
The children who were invited were all 10 years and older, and had to be relatively faithful in attending the weekly Swop-Shop. The day before the outing, I was discussing logistics with the Smutsville volunteers. We counted the returned indemnity forms and talked about the fact that quite a few kids where away for the holiday and others had not responded to the invitation. I asked if we could invite Amber-Lee Jafta, the 7-year old girl who so faithfully takes her younger brother and sister to Swop-Shop. We all agreed that it would be wonderful to give her a “day off”! A day where she could just have fun without having to mind her siblings. It was very special to see how two Voortrekker girls took Amber under their wings… playing with her, talking, sharing their shells. For a change, Amber could be the smaller one, being cared for by others!! A wonderful memory.