Camp 66

Sunshine Association | Kwalata Adventure Centre, Dinokeng Game Reserve

March 2017

In yet another first for Just Footprints Foundation, 50 siblings of children with special needs enjoyed a 4-day camp at the Kwalata Adventure Centre in Dinokeng.  Although camps have previously been held for siblings of children living with cancer related illness or life threatening blood disorders, this was the first time that the siblings of special needs’ children had been catered for.  Children who are members of special needs families face unique challenges and become aware from a very young age that they need to take extra care of and responsibility for their special needs’ sibling. This has a profound impact on all aspects of their childhood and Just Footprints felt that these siblings needed a treat and a respite from these responsibilities.

The camp was a colourful and ‘arty’ affair, with sponsorship from the National Lotteries Commission via the Hope Trust. The theme of South African arts and culture provided lots of scope for creativity with different food (including mopani worms!), dress, music, games, dancing, drumming and singing.  These were in addition to the Camp Footprints usual activities of game drives in Dinokeng Big 5 Game Reserve, sport, swimming and water games. The Hammanskraal Field Band spent a morning with the campers teaching them how to drum, play a marimba and blow a trombone.

The special needs children, whose siblings enjoyed such fun at Camp Footprints, attend the three Sunshine Association early intervention centres in Craighall Park, Eldorado Park and Elsburg. These centres offer specialised stimulation and early intervention programmes catering specifically to the needs of children with developmental delays and intellectual/physical disabilities.

Camp 67

CHOC Childhood Cancer Foundation SA – Western Cape | Bergkroon

April 2017

Bergkroon Campsite was the venue for our 2017 Western Cape camp programme for children with cancer related illnesses and life threatening blood disorders. Situated 5 km from Wellington on the Bain’s Kloof Pass road this is indeed a unique campsite because of its panoramic view of the Paarl/Wellington Valley, the great variety of fynbos and the towering and majestic Hawekwa Mountains as a backdrop. The expansive lawns, many open spaces, a sparkling swimming pool and comfortable chalets made Bergkroon a fun site to experience and explore the awe inspiring surrounds. This was the first time that ‘Camp Footprints’ in this province has not been held at the sea. Not being at the sea brought fresh fun-filled activities including making beaded bracelets with our very own special JFF branded clasp and walks in the forest.

The National Lotteries Commission and their sponsorship for an arts and culture programme allowed for the campers to explore different cultures. A great time was had by all sitting around the camp fire learning about the diverse cultural and traditional food, dance, language and dress South Africa has to offer.

With a lovely huge swimming pool and the warm weather, water activities were the main attraction of each day. And being close to Easter, the campers had much fun searching for chocolate eggs in the Easter Egg Hunt.

Children receiving treatment at the Tygerberg, Red Cross Children’s and Groote Schuur Hospitals were chosen to come to camp in collaboration with the Western Cape branch of CHOC Childhood Cancer Foundation SA. Just Footprints extends sincere thanks to the staff and volunteers from CHOC for their enthusiastic support of our camp initiative and also to the staff at the Groote Schuur, Tygerberg and Red Cross Children’s Hospitals for their assistance in rounding up the campers for camp. Without the support of these hospital teams this would indeed be a difficult task to undertake.

Camp 68

CHOC Childhood Cancer Foundation SA Sibling Camp | Johannesburg

May 2017

Our fifth sibling camp in liaison with the psychosocial team from CHOC Childhood Cancer Foundation SA, was once again a very rewarding and worthy intervention in the lives of siblings whose brother or sister has been diagnosed with cancer related illnesses and life threatening blood disorders Often referred to as the “silent sufferers”, the camp offers these siblings a respite from the responsibilities of having a sibling with a serious illness. Being away from their families gives siblings the opportunity to air their feelings and concerns about their sibling in a safe and respectful space with the insightful and professional support of the psychosocial staff and trained volunteers from CHOC.

42 excited campers attended the bush camp in the Dinokeng Game Reserve. Here they were not only encouraged to enjoy their environment and meet the wildlife on the early morning game drives, but were given the space to be who they are and to just have lots of fun in between the serious psychosocial interventions of the CHOC Team. 20 Camp Footprints volunteers were there to support the siblings during the recreational camp activities.

The CHOC social workers have had great positive feedback from the parents after the previous sibling camps and Just Footprints is humbled that our camps have made such a difference in the lives of these siblings, which for many is a life changing event.

The camp was made possible by the sponsorship of  The National Lotteries Commission.

Camp 69

Casa Do Sol School | Kwalata Adventure Centre, Dinokeng Game Reserve

May 2017

48 Casa Do Sol School campers were once again Camp Footprints guests at the Kwalata Adventure Centre in the Dinokeng Game Reserve and enjoyed 5 days of sports, swimming and loads of fun and adventure. As this camp was also funded by the National Lotteries Commission and their Arts and Culture division and the Hope Trust, the children had a great time being taught by the Hammanskraal Field Band how to play a marimba, beat a drum and blow a trombone. There was much mirth and a great amount of noise from the various groups as they tried out the different instruments!!

Casa Do Sol School provides a place of inclusive integration for learners with intellectual disabilities. Their role extends beyond just the immediate scholastic development of their current learners, as their work builds an awareness in the community at large, that different isn’t less and caters for Learners with Special Educational needs between the ages of six and twenty-one. Although the primary disability is intellectual impairment, the cause and nature of the learners’ special needs and barriers to learning are wide-ranging and divers. The school curriculum has been designed to meet the individual needs and interests of each learner and to ensure their holistic development. The full and varied curriculum is based on a Literacy, Numeracy and Life Skills Learning Programme, and this includes the teaching of Languages, Mathematics. Life Orientation, Arts & Culture, Natural & Social Sciences, Technology and Economic & Management Sciences. A strong emphasis is placed on the development of Life Skills, as it is imperative that each learner is equipped with the skills they need to be as independent as possible.  The co-curricula and extra-curricula activities that are offered at the school include music, woodwork, sewing & knitting, cooking & baking, gardening and pottery. Sporting activities include ice skating, swimming, soccer, water aerobics and adaptive sports.

Camp 70

Sizanani Outreach Centre | Kwa-Zulu Natal Mtunzini – Twinstreams Environmental Education Centre

July 2017

The Sizanani Outreach Centre camp was the first of 3 back to back camps which Just Footprints hosted in KwaZulu Natal during the July school holidays. What better way to escape the cold Gauteng winter weeks than joining our friends from Sizanani Outreach Centre at Mtunzini on the KZN North Coast. Sizanani is a community based organisation based in Nkandla assisting children with HIV/Aids and orphans and vulnerable children. 62 campers joined us for 5 days of adventure with the knowledgeable educational officers from Twinstreams,  Sizanani staff and our own JFF volunteers.

The daily programme was packed to capacity with many stimulating environmental educational activities that were geared towards appreciating our natural environment by exploring the coastal dunes, navigating through the white and black mangroves, kayaking and crab hunting. Beach games, dance, drama, song and drumming also formed part of the programme.

The highlight of the camp was a visit to the Shakaland Cultural Village which was most informative and thoroughly enjoyed by all the camp visitors. The history of Shaka was explained at great length at different strategic points along the tour through the village and fascinated the mainly Zulu campers. The tour ended in an exhibition of Zulu dancing by professional Zulu dancers and our campers were invited to join in the show which they did with alacrity and much enthusiasm. Our own special ‘wake-up and shake-up, drummer and dance’ facilitator, Vusi, also joined in and stole the show with his expertise and dance moves.

Another first for Just Footprints was a special visitor from Duke University in North Carolina in the USA. Levi Rhoades came out to South Africa to spend his summer vacation with us as part of the DukeEngage programme. DukeEngage is a competitive program that provides funding for immersive, international or domestic community service for Duke University students. Since 2007, more than 3,600 DukeEngage students have volunteered with organisations around the world, working in groups or individually. Levi enthusiastically immersed himself in our camp programme with the campers teaching him how to Zulu dance, drum and try the local maize meal or ‘pap’ which was cooked in many different ways!

One of the most important aspects of this camp was to teach the children the importance of adherence to a medication regime, since many need to take anti-retroviral medication, or are caring for siblings who need to do so.  This intervention was promoted daily through fun activities to foster adherence, acceptance of their condition and to develop a positive attitude around taking their medication.

Camp 71

CHOC Childhood Cancer Foundation SA – KZN | Kwa-Zulu Natal Mtunzini – Twinstreams Environmental Educational Centre

July 2017

Children living with cancer or life threatening blood disorders being treated at Albert Luthuli Hospital in Durban and Grey’s Hospital in Pietermaritzburg enjoyed a 5 day camp with amazing experiences hosted by Just Footprints at Twinstreams Environmental Education CentreMtunzini.  The 45 campers had a great time paddling on the estuary, exploring mangrove swamps with much fun in the mud, beach walks and games and hiking in the forest. Stories and skits around the camp fire each night made for much laughter and merriment.

A highlight of the camp programme was a drumming performance by Musical Rascals who enthralled the campers with their expertise on the drums. They brought drums for each child so everyone had the opportunity to improve their drumming skills. The team from Musical Rascals were great teachers with storytelling in sync with the drumming. At the end of the activity, each child could play the drums and we had an amazing ‘cabaret’ with our very own Camp Footprints Drummers.

The education officers and staff at Twinstreams and our JFF Camp Crew Members all collaborated to make the camp a fun, exciting and safe space where the campers could chill out from their hospital visits and treatments, enjoy ‘normal’ activities and just be kids again!

Camp 72

Child Welfare Durban & District | Kwa-Zulu Natal Mtunzini – Twinstreams Environmental Education Centre

July 2017

At our third July Twinstreams camp we hosted 50 children from 9 community homes under the auspices of and overseen by Child Welfare Durban & District. As a non-profit organisation, CHILD WELFARE Durban and District commits itself to working in the cause of justice and ensuring the well-being of children by protecting their rights and promoting their quality of life, as well as that of their families and communities which includes the protection, investigation and provision of care to children in need, including neglect, abuse, abandonment, orphan-hood, children affected / infected by HIV and AIDS, and children who have been living on the street; promoting early childhood development; establishing, maintaining and managing places of care, incorporating therapeutic programmes and promoting wider community participation in child and family welfare services.

The camp programme included all the interesting environmental exercises that Twinstreams is famous for. Hikes and an obstacle course through the coastal forest, dune climbing, a 6kms long beach walk to the estuary, mangrove exploring and kayaking and a picnic on the beach as a reward, In the evening storytelling, singing, dancing, drumming was the routine after-dinner activity before cabin chat and lights out.

These young people were overwhelmed with the love, care and respect shown to them during their time at camp by all involved with the facilitation of the programme and wrote beautiful thank you letters and poems which they read out on the final evening. There were many tears when saying goodbye to the Camp Footprints team on departure with pleas for a future invite back to camp. Our Crew members were equally overcome with the reaction and attitude change of these campers. Our belief that our camp programmes enable campers to reach beyond the barriers of their conditions, foster resilience in the face of challenges, restore their hope for the future and their sense of possibility was openly manifested at this camp.

Camp 73

Albertina Sisulu | Kwalata Adventure Centre, Dinokeng Game Reserve

September 2017

This is the first time that Camp Footprints has hosted children from the Albertina Sisulu Centre in Soweto, so camp in a Big 5 game reserve was an amazing treat for the children and the wildlife including giraffe, zebra and a variety of buck that they saw on their early morning game drives held them spell bound. This was also their first time on a game viewer so this was a double treat for the campers.

The camp was made possible via the support of the Hope Trust through funding from the National Lotteries Commission (NLC). The daily programme was as always jam packed with games, sport, water activities, painting of their Camp Footprints tshirt and adding their own personal touch, making Camp Footprints beaded bracelets. As this was again a sponsored NLC arts and culture camp, the Hammanskraal Field Band added the cultural touch with marimbas, drumming and trombone playing an exciting role in the camp programme. Discussions around the different South African cultures resulted in great interest around the food, dress, music and dance of the 11 diverse South African cultures. Even the potjie kos competition added a local cultural flavour with a mopani worm dish!

The Albertina Sisulu Centre was named and funded by Mrs Albertina Sisulu and is a LSEN school that caters for learners with moderate to severe intellectual disabilities. Learners age range from 6 years to 18 years. The school has a registered grade – R site that caters for pre-school learners with disabilities and enhanced with a wide range of extracurricular activities, including many sports, arts and practical music programs. The vision of the Centre is to empower learners to function successfully as valued citizens; their mission is to provide learning opportunities through consultation and collaboration with all stakeholders and their motto is “I know, I can….”

Camp 74

CHOC Childhood Cancer Foundation SA | Gauteng CHOC Pretoria – Kwalata Adventure Centre – Dinokeng Game Reserve

October 2017

Children living with cancer or life threatening blood disorders being treated at Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Pretoria joined us during their October school holidays. This was a great time again for these 52 children to renew old acquaintances and to make new friends away from hospitals, doctors and a respite from over worried parents. At Camp Footprints opportunities are provided for children to participate in a life-changing adventure, to learn new skills through intentional programming, to develop confidence and enhance their self-esteem in a secure, respectful and nurturing fun camp environment. Our campers are encouraged to be fearless, to escape and be joyful kids once again supported by a professional medical team and trained can caring staff and volunteer.

Two special ladies, Judy Schoeman, the dietician in charge of the in-hospital menu for the children and Sister Gail Mathews, a rare paediatric oncology nurse, joined us as the medical support at camp with our resident Doc Ed.

The Hammanskraal Field Band spent the morning with us at camp giving each camper the opportunity to try their hand at playing the marimba, trombone, cymbals and drums. At the end of the music session, the most accomplished ‘musicians’ in each discipline put together an amazing concert which was thoroughly enjoyed by both the orchestra and the audience!

Just Footprints is thrilled about the exciting development of cancer survivors, who have overcome the same challenges as our campers, joining in as active Camp Crew members! They are amazing role models and an inspiration to all at camp. A couple of our Camp Crew members were young adult cancer survivors who have previously attended our camps as campers. Thank you Tebogo and Taygan for joining us at camp. We look forward to you joining us for many more camps.

Camp 75

Sparrow Foundation School | Kwalata Adventure Centre, Dinokeng Game Reserve

November 2017

Sparrow Foundation School learners were our guests at our early November camp. For 5 days and 4 nights these youngsters joined in the fun camp adventures, game drives in the Dinokeng Game Reserve and the usual art, dance and song round the camp fire each night and their special treat, the water activities which included swimming and 2 slippy slides one of which was a huge gladiator slide! The children just love the excitement of climbing up on the rope rungs, getting to the top, looking down with fear and trepidation, then letting go and whizzing down at great speed to crash into the bubble pool at the bottom of the slide. Great delight and much laughter at all the antics on the way up and down the slide!

Just Footprints is thrilled about the development of two cancer survivors, Tegogo and Taygan (see them having fun on the slippy slide) who have overcome the same challenges as our campers, joining in as active Camp Crew members! Tebogo and Taygan have previously attended our camps as campers and are amazing role models and an inspiration to all at camp. Thank you Tebogo and Taygan for joining us at camp. We look forward to you joining us for many more camps. The camp was made possible by the sponsorship of  The National Lotteries Commission.

Great excitement for the campers and the Camp Footprints Team during this camp was the launch of our partnership activation with the international pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmtihKline (GSK). The launch was especially planned to take place at camp so that the guests and staff of GSK could join in the camp activities and share in the fun with the children. The learners from Sparrow School were also given the opportunity to participate in the formalities and the Sparrow choir performed two heart-warming songs for the crowd accompanied by the school drummers.  A local dance group, the Boitshwareletso Cultural Dance group from Hammanskraal performed an energizing and most professional Tswana dance exhibition and the Kwalata camp facilitators, Peter and Joe including our ‘wake up and shake up’ dance instructor Vusi, delighted the audience with their gumboot dance expertise. The children added their special artistic touch to the event giving the guest snack boxes their individual touch.

Sparrow Foundation School offers affordable education for children from disadvantaged backgrounds as well as quality special needs education to learners unable to access specialised services. Among the services available to learners are onsite speech therapists, a social worker, counselors, a remedial therapist and an educational psychologist who works in conjunction with educators in order to provide a holistic teaching and learning environment that values emotional growth alongside academic development.

Camp 76

Forest Town School Foundation Johannesburg | Kwalata Adventure Camp Dinokeng Game Reserve, Gauteng

November 2017

In November Camp Footprints hosted 2 back to back camps for our special little friends who attend Forest Town School Foundation. The first camp was for children with special needs ages 5 to 8 sponsored by the Hope Trust with funding from the National Lotteries Commission (NLC) for arts and culture camps. The children all love coming to camp with the slippy slides and loads of bubbles their favourite activity. The ‘ wake up and shake up’ early morning exercises set to music and under the watchful eye of our dance master, Vusi, is also a special treat for the children.

Irrespective of their challenges, these young people are all quite amazing.  Determined to try every activity, madly enthusiastic and tenacious, they love the music and dancing even in their wheelchairs and had great fun learning how to play different musical instruments like the drums, marimba and trombone taught by the Hammanskraal Field Band. The Forest Town School learners always inspire our Camp Footprints staff and camp crew as well as the programme facilitators at Kwalata Adventure Camp

Forest Town School Foundation is the founding organisation in South Africa in the field of education, therapy and medical/clinical treatments for children with complex disabilities. Forest Town School was established in 1948. Over the decades it has served thousands of children and extended its programmes to include youth over the age of 18 years. It additionally, provides further vocationally-based education through work-based training, post-school learnerships, highly specialised medical and clinical services developed together with internationally published medical professors and doctors. Forest Town School has also been involved with training therapists from University of the Witwatersrand in neurodevelopment occupational speech and physiotherapy.

Camp 77

Forest Town School Foundation Johannesburg | Kwalata Adventure Dinokeng Game Reserve, Gauteng

November 2017

With the second Forest Town School camp we had some real  ‘littlelees’, all somewhat wobbly on their walkers, wheelchairs and crutches. The children loved the wheelchair races and their ability to swing around on their crutches playing soccer was amazing. Their courage at being prodded and pushed up the gladiator slippy slide with the support of our camp crew and the glee on their faces as they came down the gladiator slippy slide to land amongst the bubbles at the bottom, was a delight to behold. Again these children with their enthusiasm and eagerness to participate in the different camp activities were an inspiration to and have a profound effect on everyone at camp. They enjoyed the game drives in an open game viewer enthralled by the size of the giraffe; painted their unique stamp on their own branded Camp Footprints tshirts; made beaded bracelets with the help of the volunteers; sang and danced and loved the ‘wake up shake up’ morning exercises with dance expert Vusi (some in wheelchairs, some with walkers and some on crutches!)

We again had the Hammanskraal Field Band (also supported by the NLC) come and spend a morning with us at camp and each camper had a chance to learn to play a marimba, trombone and drums. At the conclusion of the musical morning, the most accomplished musicians combined their skills and gave us a most entertaining concert.

Of course the teachers, social workers, care workers and volunteers at schools for differently abled organisations are the most kind and caring people with a love for these children that goes way beyond duty and responsibility. BIG THANKS to the National Lotteries Commission  (NLC) whose funding made these Forest Town School camps possible.

Forest Town School Foundation’s aim is to bring every child to his or her best potential, starting as young as the age of three years until they are able to graduate from their accredited post-school learnership programme at the age of 25 years, when they can confidently become contributing and happy citizens of our country.  It takes more than eight people with a wide range of specialised activities to work with a child with a combination of disabilities throughout their growing years. The Forest Town School currently serves approximately 350 children and youth with complex disabilities, additionally providing them with social welfare and feeding support and transport and assistive devices for mobility and communication.

Camp 78

Surgeons for little lives | Kwalata Adventure Camp Dinokeng Game Reserve, Gauteng

November 2017

The camp with Surgeons for little lives was another first for Camp Footprints and a new partnership with the paediatric surgical unit at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto. The camp was a great success with 14 staff members and volunteers from the hospital joining us at camp. The 32 children were all patients who had undergone some form of surgery at Bara Hospital. None of the children had ever been to a game reserve, so the trips in the game viewer and their first glimpse of wild animals was the highlight of the weekend. The ‘wake up and shake up’ in the mornings with Vusi, our dance coach, brought great joy and merriment to the dance activities.

Our Camp Footprints model is based on intentional learning and play through fun activities, and the daily camp programme was as always jam packed with games, sport, water activities, the campers adding their personal designer touch to the painting of their Camp Footprints t-shirts and much concentration making beaded bracelets with our unique Footprints clasp. Creative thinking was also on the camp agenda with one of the activities requiring the campers to design and make animals for a zoo that they had designed themselves which allowed them to explore their artistic talents. Teamwork is an al an essential element at camp where the campers are divided into body check groups for the duration of the camp and learn to respect and depend on one another and to work together as a team. Each camper received a group camp photograph and a Camp Footprints ‘Attendance at Camp Certificate’ to take home.

The Bara Hospital staff and volunteers participated with enthusiasm in all the programme activities and were quite amazed how differently their young patients reacted away from the hospital environment and their doctors and nurses. The staff commented on the happy smiles and loved observing their young patients being just kids again!

Surgeons for little lives is run by a small group of Paediatric Surgeons, and ordinary people, passionate about uplifting the lives of less fortunate South African children, in need of life changing surgery. Launched in May 2015, Surgeons for little lives is a registered non-profit organisation, with a powerful commitment to saving the lives of sick children. This dedicated group’s mission is to raise to world class standards, the level of care given to young patients served by the Department of Paediatric Surgery in Greater Gauteng and its surrounding provinces. Some of the projects that Surgeons for little lives are initiating are:  A new Paediatric Outpatient and Maternal Facility incorporating a parental sleep over facility; a dedicated operating theatre for Paediatric burns patients; an outside playground for recovering Paediatric Surgery patients; and providing recovering burns patients with Expression Art opportunities.  All of these projects are based at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital.

Camp 79

Tembisa Child and Family Welfare Society Kwalata  Adventure Centre, Dinokeng Game Reserve

December 2017

The final camp for the year was our annual ‘Christmas in the Bush Camp’ held in December in the Dinokeng Big 5 Game Reserve. 50 Children from Tembisa Child and Family Welfare Society were once again the lucky beneficiaries of Taste Holdings’ largesse. Taste Holdings has for many years been the most amazing supporters of our Camp Footprints initiative for children with serious health and life challenges.

A unique treat for the children at this 5 day fun filled camp was Taste Holdings’ invitation to a group of well known South African celebrities; Monique Steyn, Vaughn Lucas, Kaz McFadden, Lara Lourens and Row-Lean to come to the camp and spend the day with the children. The celebs joined in all the camp activities interacting enthusiastically with the campers, playing games with them and assisting the campers to choreograph their various dance, song, drumming and drama routines for a special talent show ‘Camp Footprints Got Talent’ which took place after lunch. Our thanks to Johan Ungerer, Founder & Director of Signature Events and Anél Wasserfall who arranged all the Celebs. The campers also each received a gift bag filled with special goodies from the celebrities. Taste Holdings provided delicious pizza for dinner that evening before the camp movie night under the stars.

The next day Taste Holdings staff brought their Christmas cheer to camp.The camp activities were festive and the children spoilt to a delicious Christmas lunch with all the trimmings, table decorations, party hats, baubles, bells and whistles which the campers, Camp Footprints staff and camp crew thoroughly enjoyed. And of course there was the great excitement when Father Christmas arrived with a beautiful watch for each camper and they could meet him and whisper in his ear what they wanted for Christmas!!

Taste Holdings staff then left on their annual pilgrimage to deliver food to the old age home TLC in Hammanskraal, to supply Christmas fare and treats for the residents of the home. HUGE thanks again to Taste Holdings for the love and care they show our campers and the elderly in Hammanskraal.