Wow, I can hardly believe that we are already on Day 7 of Journey 2020! The time is flying by and I am happy to say that things are going really well. In my role I get to meet up with all the groups periodically as the need arises and it is so interesting to see the different dynamics, routines and best practices that they adopt in order to make things work efficiently. It is so good to eavesdrop on the group meetings and to hear all the positive feedback, to hear about the extraordinary experiences and to witness the buy-in from all concerned. The parents out there can be proud of their sone and daughters and the way that they have coped with most everything that has come their way. We have put particular emphasis this year on the war on litter and each person is carrying a 2L bottle eco-brick, into which they put any plastic or paper that they pick up or accumulate and I am happy to say that it has already made a difference to the way that they are managing their litter. We are a week in and already we have some full bottles ready to return to school!
It is always a real challenge to get photos to school to get up on the website, and most particularly during the first week of Journey when we are up in the mountains and out of easy communication. What has been put up are pictures taken by group leaders on their phones and sent in from the top of a mountain where they may have signal. I good batch of pics will be on their way into school today so we hope that these will be up shortly.
Whilst the water situation has certainly been better in the areas through which we have moved, with groups getting to wash themselves and their clothes more frequently, what has really struck me is the way that an abandoned farmyard, or a harsh piece of Karoo veld is suddenly transformed into a camp site shortly after the arrival of a group. The presence of a bubbly group of teenagers, tents popping up everywhere, and before long, a hearty camp fire, all serve to transform an otherwise bleak environment into a vibrant and positive community. Although the evenings have been pretty cold so far, the new moon sky has made for spectacular night skies filled with millions of stars. The weather has been very kind to us so far but it is due to warm up and we will soon be sweltering in 36 degree Karoo heat!
Group 5 had a really good run on Tuesday in cool conditions, perfect for running and they made good time before settling in to their river-bank camp in preparation for a good day of rafting on Wednesday. Last night they had a chilly but fun evening at Kareebosch and then headed out nice and early today over the mountains and down into the valley to camp at Klipfontein. Tomorrow they will hike again up into the mountains and camp alongside the dam at Oukraal. They have been really well organized and motivated and seem to be having a great time.
Group 4 had a very good hike over the Nardousberg before completing a relatively short hike to Rietpoort on Wednesday. They were then picked up and brought to Sanctuary Farm just, north of Cradock, which proved to be a really nice stopover. Yesterday they were able to enjoy the morning at Sanctuary Farm before heading out to Umlindi and settled in to prepare for a day of running alongside the Fish River today. Things are still pretty cool, so should make for a good days running. Tomorrow they will start a series of hiking days as they head towards the Solo site at the end of the week. Again they are a happy and motivated group having lots of fun.
Group 3 enjoyed a chilly day of rafting on the river whilst enjoying all that the Karoo River Rafters camp site has to offer for the two nights that they were there. They then had a warm but successful run into Sanctuary Farm and enjoyed a really nice evening there last night. Today they are starting their three-day cycle leg. The road over the Swaershoek Pass is being re-gravelled so we have bused the group and their bikes over the pass in the interests of safety. They have a relatively short ride today, as a result, with a very pleasant overnight stay at Grootdam Farm to look forward to. Their next two days will see the group having to tackle some tough hills and negotiate some rough farm roads. They have been moving along really well and have good spirit, so I sure that they will handle the challenges quite adequately.
Group 2 are in the midst of their prolonged hiking spell as they head towards the Solo site. They hiked well yesterday and were able to enjoy the lovely dam at Mount Marlow on a nice warm afternoon. Today they head up to Oukraal, where they will again campo alongside a dam high on the side of Groenkop Mountain. Tomorrow they will be the first group to hike into Solo for a period of rest, contemplation and reflection. Both Rev Rich and Rev Rachel will be there and this provides an opportunity for the boys and girls to re-charge themselves spiritually and emotionally and they will share in a communion service under the thorn trees, before hiking on their way. This process will be repeated for all the groups over the next five days. Solo has been a real success since it was introduced some years ago and serves as a good opportunity to re-charge the soul and to enjoy some quiet time.
Group 1 were the first of the cycle groups and they enjoyed three days of cycling all the way from Petrusdal, where they had summited the Nardousberg, They enjoyed pretty good weather conditions and made good progress. They camped alongside the Fish River last night and will enjoy a day of river rafting in sunny conditions today. Tomorrow they too will start a series of hiking days as they walk into Solo. They have been going along very well and are forming a good group bond.
The next few days will be about handling the heat and getting up and down some substantial mountains. Whilst they will find it pretty tough, from what I have seen so far, I am confident that they will make a success of it whilst having loads of fun.
Until next time