Holiday camps are the soul of Happy Acres, a child-centred field centre providing an environment for children to learn more about themselves, the environment and how to interact with peers in the freedom of the Magaliesburg countryside.
Camps are one of the few environments where children can leave their backgrounds, privileged or not, and enter a secure surrealistic world as equals with children from a wide range of backgrounds. A place where youngsters can be themselves, while being encouraged to explore a range of fun-filled activities.
The holiday camps are based on a 77-year-old tradition, which in turn is based on several organisations such as Scouts and American summer camps where children are led by children under the auspices of a responsible adult in a highly structured environment. You have to live one to see how special they are!
An exciting theme is chosen for each camp which is structured on traditions to provide fun-filled schedules for different age groups. The programs are designed to ensure that campers of all ages and different interests are well cared for, stimulated, and entertained. Some activities involve the entire camp and other sessions are group specific, catering for various age groups and ability levels. The range of activities may include activities such as group games, outdoors adventures, sports, arts and crafts, walking/hiking, swimming, or cook-outs. The organised activities are interspersed with opportunities to build friendships (which often last long after the camp ends), singing camp songs, swimming, rest time and many more activities.
The children are divided into groups of about 10 boys and 10 girls of the same age which are each led by a young boy and girl counsellor who stay with the group throughout the camp. The children sleep in dormitories with their counsellor and fellow campers from their group, with boys’ and girls’ dormitories located on opposite sides of the property.
All counsellors undergo training and are selected by their ruthless peer reviews before being invited to counsel. They then start their journey up the hierarchy of counsellors as they gain experience and are selected for promotion by their peers. Only outstanding youngsters make it into the senior counsellor ranks.
In the modern world where communication is largely dominated by screens within high security fences, children don’t get nearly as many opportunities to play freely in wide open spaces as they did decades ago. Camps are one of the few substitutes where children can learn to be independent, explore, and can make their own choices and deal with the consequences of their choices, all within a safe and secure environment.
The method works so well that several families are sending the 3rd or 4th generation of children to camp!
Based on feedback from former counsellors, many of whom have excelled in their professional careers and personal lives, the privilege of being able to counsel offers youngsters one of the best opportunities available to gain leadership experience and skills while still at school. We regularly get feedback from past counsellors, some who counselled over 70 years ago, telling us about the huge impact counselling had on their lives.