Grade 10 Leadership Trip to Khotso
On Sunday, 19 August the Grade 10s, with a group of Grade 11 leaders, gathered on Top Field to begin, for what was for most of them, their first experience in the outdoors in the Southern Berg. Our destination was Khotso Horse Trails situated 12 km outside Underberg. This 1300 hectare working horse and sheep farm is nestled at the foot of this majestic mountain range and is only minutes away from the famous Sani Pass. Khotso is home to Steve Black and his stable of horses. For more than 18 years now Khotso has been responsible for taking travellers and adventurers into the heart of Lesotho, and is a regular base for the World Challenge group. The enthusiasm of the group was reflected by the fact that many of them had arrived at school well before the 06h30 deadline.
The planning phase of the excursion, which focuses on the boy’s organizational skills, was well executed by the majority of the boys. The only issue that some experienced was the sheer weight of their packs. This is the nett result of over packing and using a back pack that is too large.
Thanks once again go to Roselux Coaches for a smooth and safe trip to Underberg. We arrived at the start of the Drakensberg Gardens road at around 10h00 and here the boys unpacked their kit and began the 7km hike along the scenic Mzimkhulu River to Khotso Horse Trails.
On arrival at Khotso the boys were briefed and after the “camp rules” were set out the boys put up their tents and prepared lunch. Compared to previous years, this group had put a lot of planning into the tented accommodation and no oversized tents were used. This again points to the team work aspect of this excursion where the purchasing of expensive and unnecessary equipment is discouraged. The afternoon was spent swimming in the dam and exploring their new home for the next few days. The boys were also very well prepared in terms of food supplies.
As the sun set the boys were able to start the braais and enjoyed a great meal. In some cases packs were lightened by a few kilos as vast quantities of meat were put on the braais. After dinner the boys were briefed on the procedure for Monday morning and then they settled around the huge fire that definitely helped to keep them warm in both body and spirit. Global warming is definitely a factor affecting our climate and the temperatures rarely dropped below 3 degrees.
The next morning the boys woke to very mild temperatures, although some did dress up like they were expecting snow! Breakfast was varied and some were very glad that they had braai leftovers enough to give them sufficient energy for the day. At 8am they were divided into groups to begin the rotation through the various activities:
Farm work, horse riding, polar bear challenge and water activities, overnight in the mountains, waterfall hike, air rifle shooting and leadership tasks.
The farm work included mixing feed, gathering fire wood, clearing the paddocks, and learning about sheep and horse care. The interaction between the boys and the farm staff was excellent and a great amount of work was done during the week. Typical of any farm Khotso has a number of working dogs and the boys had to try very hard not to be tempted to play with them.
The two hour horse trail involved either the ascent or descent route around the foothills of the farm and was completed by every boy in the group. Many of the boys were very wary of the horses as some are quite large, but these fears were overcome and an enjoyable ride was had by all. The traditional Polar Bear Challenge – a six metre jump into an icy plunge pool was added to the ride segment. The icy water didn’t deter the boys and only some were wary of the challenge.
The waterfall hike was extended from that followed in the 2017 trip and took the boys through a scenic 2½ hour route through the foothills. On this hike the Khotso team highlighted various environment aspects around the farm as well as showed the boys the impact of soil erosion in the area. This segment of the trip was supervised by our staff and coordinated by Steve Black who has many years of hiking and outdoor experience.
Air rifle shooting was extremely popular and we will looking at extending this activity in 2019.
I would like to thank all the parents, boys and staff who supported this initiative, namely Mrs Nagiah, Ms Le Roux, Mssrs Girodo and Liddell. Each staff member contributed to the success of the trip and imparted their own personal attributes in helping with the boys. The interaction between the staff and boys was excellent – this may be attributed to the fact that they camped with the boys and took part in all of the activities with them. A huge thank you also goes to Steve and Lulu of Khotso and their support staff who made sure that this was a meaningful, safe and enjoyable experience for our boys.
This is the third year we have used this rotation and spent a lot of time at Khotso devising a new excursion for the 2019 group. One thing I am glad to report is that I already have a list of fifteen boys who want to return next year as Grade 11 leaders.
Head: Outdoor Leadership
“On Sunday 19 August approximately 80 Grade 10 boys with some Grade 11s departed from School to our leadership camp in Underberg.
We spent 2½ hours on the bus and got off 7kms before the campsite where we were to spend the night. With our luggage for 5 days on our backs, we had to walk the 7kms in the hot weather, through, over and under barbed wire, over and through small rivers, with some occasional breaks in-between.
When we got to the camp, we set up our tents and prepared for a braai for supper. Over the next 4 days, with the Grade 11s, we separated into groups of about 25 to tackle all the different activities which were farming, hiking and shooting air rifles.
For the farming part, we had to collect firewood, clean out the horse stables and roll out hay for the horses to feed. Each afternoon a group went out on another hike further up a mountain and stayed there for the night. The boys had a great time horse-riding on the deep rocky mountains. The air rifle activity involved shooting cans from a distance with pea-sized pellets.
Throughout all the activities, we spent a good long time connecting with each other through the sharing of tents and food to survive. Our best highlight was when we all sat around the campfire on the last night and sang a whole range of songs which showed the great bond of brotherhood that we all share. It was also an opportunity for us all to learn a lot about ourselves and our ability to adapt to different and difficult circumstances.
This memorable experience would not be possible without the efforts of our guardians, the staff involved and the Grade 11 boys, so on behalf of the Grade 10s, I would like to extend a huge thank you to you all.”