From March 25 to 27, 2022, the Africa Unite School Club held their annual Leadership Camp in the Greyton Eco Lodge in a little town called Greyton. Gardens Commercial High School, Salt River High School, Dr. Nelson Mandela High School, Portland High School, Princeton High School, Hector Peterson Secondary School, and Rosendaal High School were among the 49 students who attended the camp. Two of the School Clubs project officers, one social worker, and one intern led the Leadership Camp.
The camp was held to provide the seven cabinet members with leadership skills so that they could manage their school clubs, as well as to offer them a better grasp of Africa Unite as a whole and the School Club concept. The students gained a better understanding of their duties and responsibilities as leaders in their school club.
Lunch was served shortly after our arrival and the atmosphere in the room was tense because the learners did not know one another. After lunch, we went into the introductions, explaining why we were all at the camp and voicing our expectations, as well as discussing the camp rules.
We used the opportunity for a much-needed icebreaker, which helped to lift the mood in the room. We played a speed dating game in which we asked them questions and they had to answer them to each other, with each question being replied to a different person. This was accomplished by establishing two rings, one inside the other, and requiring the outer circle to take a step to the left before answering a new question, resulting in everyone engaging with one another. This icebreaker worked because they were able to engage and get to know one other through the questions.
We felt it was important for them to understand not only the school club but also the organization and how the school club program fits within the AU umbrella, so we followed up with a detailed presentation on Africa Unite as an organization.
We then divided the learners into groups by their schools and worked on a community map assignment in which they had to identify both negative and positive hotspots areas in their community and school. The activity also made it easy for the learners to identify potential stakeholders that are within their respective communities. The seven clubs then presented their maps, allowing learners from various schools to obtain a visual sense of where their schools are located and also get a sense of numerous social issues that learners experience in their communities. The learners are not all from the same communities therefore, not all of them are exposed to the same social issues. The activity allowed them to think deeply about the social issues that their school and community faced, but it also made them aware of issues that were happening in other areas that they were unaware of.
Day two began with an early morning workout led by the Fabienne (inter). This got the learners hearts racing and got them pumped up for the day ahead. The workout was followed by a communication game that aided in the development of listening skills. In order to win the game, the ministers had to work together and communicate efficiently.
This was followed by a school club presentation in order to give them a better understanding of the concept of the school club, as well as why the club was formed, why it is a part of their school, and how they can make the school club operate effectively in so they can make the necessary changes in their school and community.
The ministers were then divided into groups to discuss their roles and responsibilities in order for the school club to run smoothly, they then presented the information to see if they understood the concept of the school club and what their role and responsibilities should be based on our in-depth school club presentation.
Later in the afternoon, we went on a hike which was very heart-warming to see since they were able to encourage each other to keep going. It was a hot day, and most of the learners struggled to keep going, but with each other’s help, no one was left behind. The learners recognized the value of working as a team and supporting one another.
The schools were given time to plan a role play presentation, which was the highlight of the camp. They were required to pick a social issue at their school and determine how they, as a school club, would handle it. Each school highlighted issues such as rape, smoking, bullying, bunking, and disrespect. With limited resources, they devised actual plays, some of which contained singing and depicted emotional emotions such as crying. The concerns that had been found were brought to the room, and everyone who was watching was moved by the issues that had been highlighted as well as the raw talent that was present.
Lastly, on the final day they were given the opportunity to finalize their year plans, with the seven schools being divided into groups and working on the activities they planned to execute throughout the year. Also included in their year plans is the name of the activity/project/programme, proposed date, budget, possible stakeholder and person responsible for the event.
The clubs had to then present their year plans, and it allowed us to see what the students had planned, as well as engage with them and inquire about why particular activities would be done. The other clubs in attendance were also stimulated by the presentations because they were able to hear ideas that they had not considered previously and could potentially include into their plans.
Finally, we had a reflection session where we discussed what had happened throughout the camp. One thing that stood out was that during the presentations, there was always time set aside for questions or comments. At first, the learners mistook the questions and comments as verbal attacks on the ideas they were sharing in their presentations, but it was wonderful to hear and see that they had learned through their experiences that there is such a thing as constructive criticism.