From Port Elizabeth to Northern Michigan

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We catch up with multiple-time BUNACer, Carl, to find out how he gained the transferable skills on his volunteer trip coaching sports in South Africa, and used them to grab a place working at a US summer camp...


South African adventure...

It was time for an adventure so I jumped in feet first and decided to spend 12 weeks in South Africa teaching sports in local schools. It was easily the best decision I ever made. From day to day we would go to a few different schools in the area and teach a range of different sports, getting to know some of the most enthusiastic and energetic children I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. Every day we would be welcomed at each school by all the kids singing and dancing at the gates awaiting our arrival. We would have a session planned for each school so we could get started as soon as we arrived. The number of kids in each of our sessions could range from 10 to 30 so we had to learn quickly how to deal with varying group numbers. I often lead the sessions, which I really enjoyed it gave me lots of great first hand experience at running sports session and dealing with groups of children on my own, I found this experience was vital when taking part in my next adventure....

.... to Summer Camp USA

On my return from South Africa I decided to apply to the Summer Camp Exchange USA programme and I was placed at a fantastic camp in Northern Michigan. My role was the Athletics Coach where I taught a range of different land sports, planned sessions for the campers, organise tournaments/events and also run the sessions day to day - all things that I had previously done in South Africa. I was later told that I was picked by my director specifically because of my experience in South Africa and because I had clearly spent a considerable amount of time teaching my chosen sports whilst I was there. I found that my experience from South Africa helped me considerably in my position at summer camp and found so many of the skills I gained from my sports coaching placement transferable. There were a few differences when dealing with the different groups of children, there were sometimes a language issue with the kids in South Africa as their levels of English would vary from school to school. I found the best tactic was to recruit one of the boys with better English to be your mini coach/translator, which he of course loved. I would say the other main difference was the American children liked to keep it “cool” whereas the South African kids just wanted to sing and dance constantly... you couldn’t help but love them both.  

Travelling

After camp me and a group of 9 other people decided to travel together, we spent most of the summer deciding where to go and what to do -  there were just so many options. We eventually decided on an epic cross country road trip which took us from one side of the country to the other, and back again. We visited a number of national parks including The Badlands, Yellowstone, Zion, The Grand Canyon and Bryce Canyon. We also stopped in Wisconsin at one of our American friend’s house and got to meet his whole family. We started in Chicago and headed west getting as far as Las Vegas where we spent a few days before starting the long journey back. It was an experience I'll never forget and all started with my truly life changing trip to South Africa. I can't wait to head back to summer camp this summer!

Are you passionate about passing on your love of sports to disadvantaged kids in South Africa, or can you lead activities at an American summer camp? Get in touch! Request a callback or call us on 033 3999 7516 to kick start your very own adventure.