A group of 65 Jeppe grade 9 boys spent a week at Giant’s Castle in the Drakensberg recently on a trip that they will remember for a very long time.
The excursion was called a Jeppe Journey, marking an important step on the path to manhood for the boys. It was a tough physical experience, but also a unifying one, and a chance for the boys to discover just who they are and what they are capable of.
The group was accompanied by Mr Matt Schneider and Mr Tyron Horne, and all of the teaching interns who are at the school. The activities were planned and facilitated by the adventure experts at Entabeni Education Centre, with the staff members keeping an eye on the boys, and learning a lot about them in the process.
“Part of our brief was to observe the boys and pick out which ones were assuming leadership roles,” Mr Horne explained. “We saw that, and we also saw some amazing displays of courage, of dealing with adversity, and of boys helping out their mates who were struggling to ensure that their group completed the tasks that were set for them.
The boys were divided into four groups and they had to cover more than 100km over the five days, hiking, cycling and paddling. They had to carry everything they needed in their backpacks, and had to erect their own tents to sleep in and cook their own meals.
“It was tough, we did everything with them, so I can vouch for that,” Mr Horne said. “The days were long, so the boys were in bed early each night, but there was always time to sit around the gas cooker and talk about the experience. I got the impression that many of them found it all quite moving.”
We spoke to few of them, and they confirmed that. “We were woken up to watch the sunrise,” Dylan Kirby said. “The clouds rolled into the valley and the sun rose through them. We could see that happening from above the clouds. It was the most spectacular thing I’ve ever seen.”
Dylan’s twin, Thomas Kirby will always remember the night they slept in a cave. It was different to anything else I have experienced before. There was waterfall outside. It was magical.”
For Liam McCourt, getting away from what was familiar and seeing things without the usual distractions was special. “I learnt a lot just by being in a new setting,” he said.
“Seeing how the boys handled themselves made it all worthwhile,” Horne said. “Being with them as they took these steps along their life’s journey was special.”