South Africa Summer 2012

SSFS students with bags of donated items that they will take with them to South Africa

14 SSFS students and 2 US SSFS teachers will be traveling and volunteering in South Africa this summer, June 19-July 9. Activities include hiking, visiting game reserves and national parks, going to arts festivals, working in a soup kitchen, removing invasive species, and working with elephants at an elephant sanctuary. Most of their time, however, will be spent in Kurland Village, where the students will help run an afternoon camp program for children ages 11-15, including organizing a soccer league and tournament. The group will be sending on posts and information when they have internet access, so check back for updates!



Update – Monday, July 2 from Scott Carneal

As the DC area was being blasted by 100 degree heat and a raging storm, we finished up our first week in Kurland teaching fantastic classes under crystal clear skies and in dry,  75 degree air. Some highlights include:

  • Braeden, Alex, Sean, and Gabe each coached a team of 8 to 12 year olds in anticipation of a big tournament on our last Friday. Each team has a theme song and dance. The boys also played in a men’s soccer game.
  • Sarah Rose, Sara Dean, Nora, Max, Mikaila, and Tracey are busy developing and directing an original play with acting, singing, and dancing.
  • Gillian has created a running club in the afternoon with 40 children who participate in track and field events and end up running either 2.5 K or 5 K around the village. There will be a big track Olympics on our final day.
  • Julia has been running a basketball program for girls which gives us a chance to push the athletic boys off of the court.
  • Maya and Elena have run a games activity and been mainstays at the creche nursery school.
  • We also had a great weekend hiking along the coast and having a big birthday dinner for Mikaila (with several African songs).

Update – Tuesday, June 26 from Scott Carneal:

All went well with our arrival to Kurland. We settled in nicely at Ingwe and started our full day camp. Soccer, drama, and running games were all popular. We had about 80 kids in the morning and 120 in the afternoon. We will run the school’s holiday program for 10 more days and will add dance and music and what South Africans call athletics (track and field). Tomorrow we are also working in a soup kitchen and a small nursery school, both run by village women who have limited means.


Update – Monday, June 25 from Bim Schauffler:

Photos from a fabulous game ride we had on Sunday below.  This morning we are leaving Amakhala and will be losing regular Internet access, so our contact will be fewer and farther between.





















Update – Saturday, June 23 from Bim Schauffler:

Amakala Game Reserve, Eastern Cape, South Africa

At 9:00 a.m. We loaded into two land rovers and headed out onto the Amakhala Reserve for a game ride.  The ride started with a large secretary bird atop a tree that seemed to melt away into its nest as we approached.  We continued on past herds or zebra, hartebeest, and eland antelope as well as a loan blue wildebeest frolicking on the hillside – note that we have learned that the SSFS wildebeest is a black wildebeest. In addition to the large mammals, we sighted numerous beautiful birds that were previously unknown to us.  The most exotic was the pair of rare southern pale chanting goshawks who were hunting along the banks of the Bushman River.

The most impressive sighting of the game ride was a large family group of elephants with a large dominant male named Norman.  As we sat watching Norman, the females and the younger elephants wander down through the acacia thicket toward the river,  two younger bulls wrestled in the trees above the track on which we were parked.

Our rangers, Kyle and Justin, have been wonderful  sources of both information and humor. They playfully compete with one another to see who can get through a gate first so that the other has to stop and close it, but then are ready with well-tempered explanations of everything from elephants to termite mounds to local wildflowers.  They are newly trained rangers and eager to share what they know, as well as quickly find out for us the things they do not know.

For our final activity of the day, we moved from wild to wilder and went to the local sports club to watch the final of three rugby matches between England and South Africa.  It was a hard fought 14 – 14 tie, but perhaps the most impressive outcome of the match was that our whole group now knows what a “scrum,” “tunnel,” and “try” are.
























Update – Friday, June 22 from Scott Carneal:

Days 2 and 3 have been very successful. We have spent two afternoons at the Isipho Safe House in Paterson, mainly playing various games such as soccer, duck, duck goose, and playground cricket. We also helped pick up trash and remove crabgrass from a play area. It ended up being a good warm-up for the two-week program that we will run in Kurland Village. While at Amakhala Game Reserve, we have had one game drive and a walk and subsequently have seen a warthog, Vervet Monkeys, ostriches, giraffes, an elephant, and many other antelope and smaller animals. We also met with the head of Chipembere Foundation, Brent Cook, who described the poaching of rhino in South Africa (including on Amakhala Reserve) and what is being done to stop this terrible problem. Our hosts, Jennifer and Giles Gush and their ranger team of Justin, Kyle, and Kim, have been incredibly friendly, accommodating, and informative.

We will spend the next two days on the reserve taking 6 hour game drives and will attend a sports club to watch South Africa play England in rugby. We are starting to recharge our batteries in anticipation of our arrival to Kurland Village this Monday.

Please enjoy the photos of our students at Isipho Safe House.
























Update – Thursday, June 21 from Scott Carneal:

We have arrived at Amakhala and just finished a short game drive. Long journey but everyone is happy and healthy.