When considering the statement, ‘Do not judge a vacation by its location’, the Efaya sugar cane fields evoke memories. A weekend on a survival camp was the educational idea of one of our Life Orientation teachers.
Initially we loathed this idea. The thought of leaving civilization and all its comforts for a whole weekend was almost too much to handle.
As we journeyed to the campsite on 20 June, away from any civilization zones, it slowly dawned on us what we had let ourselves in for. We zigzagged through rocks, along dust roads, past vast stretches of greenery and finally arrived at the drop off point. We got out of the four-wheeled transport and onto the two-legged type. We had to carry all our gear, including slippers, nightgowns and bedroom sets to the campsite. This was not a walk in the park, mind you, we followed a map to get to the site. When we arrived at the campsite – a piece of land over-populated with rocks and trees – we had to cultivate it into a place which we could call home for three days! The first task before nightfall was to build a shelter in which to sleep for the night. I nominated myself as the tree-hacker and proceeded to hack with my machete. Yes, we were armed and dangerous!
The cooking team got a fire burning, roasted some viennas and tossed them into fresh buns. We were ravenous and demolished everything. We then turned to devour the bread but we kept in mind that we would starve at breakfast the next morning if we ate Saturday’s rations.
We continued with the shelter constructions. They were made out of plastic and bent trees. The plastic was supposed to protect us from rain and wind. A rumble of thunder gave us a rude awakening, for we knew if it rained we would be drenched and probably die of hypothermia. When the rain did come down, we scurried and tucked into our sleeping gear. This part of the camp was the ‘I hate Life Orientation’ part. Some of us barely slept a wink. Some covered their sleeping bags with plastic but others were not so lucky. When morning arrived I revisited the statement: hunger is the best cook. We had stiff pap for breakfast with a dash of chilli sauce.
The prison camp morning jog came next. An army style punishment system was also put into place: push ups! Lunch was a more civilised meal of good noodles and mince. We piled our plates high to survive the rigours of the afternoon.
What I really enjoyed about the camp was that the close bonds between us were reinforced by this experience. What we initially thought would be a nightmare excursion resulting in nothing more than stiff smelly bodies and pneumonia turned out to be an excursion where we learnt to tell each other, ‘I accept you and I will be there for you’. Summarising the weekend is quite impossible. It was three days of forever. Fate determines who comes into your life but your heart determines how long they will stay in there.
Two words that send shivers up any PC-playing commercially-minded teenager is ‘The Bush’. What started off as agony, pain and certain starvation ended up as a camp on a farm we would never forget.On arrival, task teams were allocated with various duties. The 6am Saturday morning wake-up call reminded us that the word ‘boot’ comes before the word ‘camp’. We played team games and the boys astounded each other with their cooking abilities. We had a great time and it was even educational. We learned so much more about each other than we could have in a classroom situation.