Celebrating the end of the exam period and a successful year with our core groups, awarenet and our partner organisation Inkululeko decided to take a trip to the Hobbiton Outdoor Education Center in Hogsback from Friday the 22nd to Sunday the 24th of November. The Hobbiton campsite offers a variety of outdoor activities, ranging from beautiful mountain hikes to challenging high-rope climbing courses.
After arriving safely in the late afternoon on Friday, the Hobbiton staff started off the program with a couple of icebreaker-games in the gym, including intense matches of netball and hockey as well as activities focusing on concentration and reaction time. Being energized by these exercises, the learners and staff collectively decided to postpone dinner and go on the scheduled night hike immediately afterward.
This approximately hour-long walk through the completely dark forest was not only physically and mentally challenging to the learners, as the lack of any light sources was quite intimidating to them and forced them to completely rely on their senses, it also gave them an opportunity to contemplate our impact on the environment whilst looking at the night sky untouched by urban light pollution. Returning to the campsite after this exciting and challenging activity, everyone was relieved to enjoy a nice dinner, prepared by the awarenet staff.
Starting off a very active Saturday, the boys and one awarenet staff member got up as early as 5 a.m. to go running through the beautiful forest in Hogsback during a stunning sunrise over the mountain range near the camp. Following a well-deserved breakfast, the program continued with a hike to the Madonna and Child waterfall, which required mastering a very steep descend to the final destination and was rewarded with the possibility of refreshment in the cool mountain stream at the waterfall.
The afternoon was packed with a variety of climbing exercises, separate groups mastered an indoor climbing wall and a zip line, taking turns afterward. Facing the heaviest challenge yet, the learners then engaged in the high-ropes course, which consisted of a leap from pole, abseiling and another climbing wall, all done at least 5 meters above the ground.
Finishing off the day after a game of soccer with many people from other groups and Hobbiton staff members, followed by a nice braai prepared by the Inkululeko staff, everyone once again gathered in the gym for another great round of physical games and went to sleep afterward, exhausted yet happy. The demanding exercises left their mark on the learners, the motivation to get up the next morning as well as the enthusiasm toward the activities decreased quite a bit compared to the previous day, but Sunday’s hike and a low-height climbing course were still enjoyed. In the end everyone arrived in Grahamstown safely and smilingly.
The learners described the trip to Hogsback as a “good kind of exhausting”, highlighting the benefits of “gaining strength and losing weight”, as well as a nice team-building experience, teaching them trust, discipline and to always listen and observe carefully.