Wag 'n Bietjie trip Grade 4

22 August 2023
Wag 'n Bietjie trip

In a meeting of the school principal and the grade four team of teachers, earlier in the year, concerns were raised about the seemingly negative impact of COVID restrictions on the current group of Grade 4s, who spent a greater part of the year at home, in their crucial year of development. A program that would extend the teaching and learning curriculum beyond the classroom and the home environment would be most welcome. The Wag’n Bietjie trip which was already underway was seen as part of the solution to the concern.

The objectives of the trip were revised and summed up as an excellent opportunity to develop Grade 4s as individuals, in terms of becoming both independent and responsible people. They would be exposed to situations that need prompt decision making, taking a risk in a controlled environment and of course conquering their challenges outside the classroom setting. All these add to the vital skills that will shape them into successful adults of the future. With that in mind, the team set out to encourage parents to make payments for the trip, in order to make sure all learners benefited from the much anticipated, once off all-round booster experience.

Day one: On the way Curious learners tried to get as much information as they could from teachers, as they rained endless questions, one after the other. There we were, already exploring beliefs of other people as we got to talk about different cultures and perspectives. I am pretty sure the learners gained some valuable knowledge and understanding of the world around them in that short time. I found it strange however, when one brilliant learner noticed that we were passing through her home area, but she did not know the name of the suburb, let alone her address. A quick survey showed that most of the girls in the bus did not know the names of the areas they live in- a subject for another day. The boys were very excited to see the famous Sandton tower as we drove through the adjacent area. Another spectacle was a farm, where people were busy with tractors and other farm equipment. They were quick to relate the scene to their recent History lessons with Sir Siyanda Ndlovu, who ended up having to answer many questions to quench their thirst for knowledge. The journey to Wag’n Beitjie alone, was a fulfillment of the objective to expose learners to the practicality of what they learn at school.

At the camp: Excitement escalated when we arrived at our destination, 104 learners who each had their own expectations. We were received by an enthusiastic team of facilitators, who quickly divided the learners into three manageable teams and assigned a small bottle to each group. Each bottle would be kept like a new baby and be carried everywhere by members of its team (family). A point system was attached to these bottles. The winners would be announced at the end of our stay. They then ushered us to our respective rooms after giving us detailed house information and rules. It was interesting to watch as learners settled in their rooms. They were obviously too happy to have to choose their preferred roommates. The highlight here was that most of the learners struggled to make their own beds. It was good to see the team spirit naturally kicking in as they helped one another. Notably, our principal Mrs. Reynolds and HOD Mrs. Vorster had joined us. They took us aside in a brief meeting to encourage us and give us more tips on how to manage the learners and work hand in glove with the camp facilitators.

Lunch: At 12 noon a yummy lunch was served, to the great amusement of the learners, whose levels of excitement were still high. They were very happy to learn that they would not have to wash their own dishes. A few boys who tried to test the waters were quickly brought to order. They soon learnt that camp would be fun filled, but they needed to know their limits Afternoon activities: Riding on the back of a camel, a rare animal in South Africa was the highlight of the afternoon activities. The well-informed camp facilitators educated learners about the camels, their origin, life span, the food they eat and their habits too. It was exciting to see the gigantic animal stand still as they mounted it. It's majestic kind of walk was something to write home about. Domestic animals like the sheep, goats, and cattle were the other animals we got to see and learn about as they showed off their beauty and a few skills. A mother sheep had a young one who followed her everywhere. Learners welcomed the final activity which instilled the values of respecting one another's opinions when working together. They had to use blocks to build an imaginary castle and create a narrative about the family that lived there with their team babies being part of the family. After dinner we were shown a variety of live snakes. It was dead silent as we listened to the facilitator telling us all about them, both venomous and non-venomous snakes. One could tell that for a lot of us that the snake session came as a great exercise to overcome fear. Some learners were brave enough to touch the snakes and get to understand what is meant by cold blooded mammals. We wound up day one with a quiz that kept the seemingly tired learners awake, as they had to come together to find answers to the scientific and bible questions. The noise in the learners' rooms came naturally as it was a first for most of them to spend a night with friends and away from their usual environments. Lights went off at 10pm.

Day two: 15 August was the second day for the young Grade learners at Wag’ n Beitjie. The learners woke up and energetically prepared for the activities of the day, whose highlight was swimming. They quickly took their bath and started their day with a music activity. They kept asking what time swimming would happen, although they enjoyed doing the music activity. There were various academic activities that gave a lot of information linked to the subjects they do at school: Geography, History and Natural Sciences. Learners had the opportunity to take a close look at animals that they learnt about previously through slides. There was a lot of learning as they were also introduced to the worm farming project, which is a practical skill that is relevant to their lives. Throughout the morning activities, they kept asking about swimming, as if they had heard wind that it could be cancelled. When the time arrived for them to change into their costumes, they were filled with excitement once more, of dashing into the pool. In no time, though the weather wasn't that warm, everyone was enjoying that moment of splashing in the pool. The mud pool, although cold was recorded as another fun activity that got learners wet again, with mud this time. It was fun watching them play, scream and dodge mud smearing from their peers. The water activities got the learners worked out and hungry. They could be seen grabbing a second serving of dinner and some boys, a third! Learners had to bath, tidy up and clean their rooms after dinner. This was a defining moment as some seemed to struggle putting their belongings together and pack them away. Luckily, teams all had those organized learners who assisted others to find their clothes and help hang them up to dry. It was interesting to note that in the end, learners managed to keep their rooms tidy. Most of our learners, it was observed, will need to keep practicing these chores at home, if they are not doing already, in order to not only get used to doing them, but to develop the sense of responsibility instilled in them. The second evening was sealed with another quiz and a passionate prayer from one of the Grade boys. It was much easier to put learners to bed after a second hectic day.

Day three: On the 16th the learners had to be woken up at 5:30 am and get ready, as we needed to be out of the rooms at 6am. The task was not easy as most of them were still feeling tired. We had the morning devotions in the meeting hall before we moved to the dining area. They had to see a few animals before we departed. It was interesting to hear from the learners themselves, sealing it all by relating to teachers and their peers, how they enjoyed camp and what lessons they took with them. There was so much peace and tranquility in the buses as we traveled back to school. Most learners wondered somewhere in dreamland until we got to school. Thank you once again parents for allowing your dear children to be away with us for two nights. We bonded, got to know and understand them even better. I believe our experiences together will go a long way in improving teaching and learning in the classroom.

MS Peterson, Mr. Nkomo, Mr. Ndlovu and Ms. Mpofu, thank you for the amazing team you are! A special thank you to our motherly principal, Mrs. Reynolds and HOD Mrs. Vorster who were hands on and guided us throughout camp. My heart was touched when Mrs. Reynolds literally folded blankets and packed some of the girls' suitcases because the owners were struggling to do it. Hats off to you Mrs. Reynolds!