Mahalapye Teen Club: Mokolodi Camp a Huge Success!

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The following post is courtesy of Caitlin McSweeny, Adult Volunteer at Mahalapye Teen Club:

Mahalapye Teens Play Tug-of-War at Mokolodi Nature Reserve! (Photo Courtesy of Caitlin McSweeny)

Mahalapye Teen Club: Mokolodi Camp a Huge Success!

It’s always interesting to me how you can put so much time and energy into planning a project or an event and then all of a sudden it’s time for the event and then *whoosh!* it’s over.

So it was with Mahalapye Teen Club’s much anticipated trip to Mokolodi Nature Reserve in Gaborone. Since I had come back from America, I and many other adult volunteers had put long hours into planning the trip. I totally underestimated just how much goes into trying to take 22 teens and 8 adults away for a weekend!

The efforts paid off however and the last weekend of February came. Our teens were supposed to arrive at the hospital by 11:00am on Friday so that we could load the bus. By 9:30 half of them were already there. Unfortunately, our transport was not.

The good thing about having been here for almost 2 years now is that transport failing to show up is no longer a surprise. Too bad it doesn’t make it any less aggravating! 🙂 The government had promised to provide us transport, we had confirmed on Monday, but come Friday – NADA. Luckily we had a backup plan – we called a bus company and they were able to send us a bus pretty quickly….so crisis averted.

Though we pushed off later than anticipated, everyone was still in good spirits as we headed to Gaborone. The

Exploring the wildlife at Mokolodi! (Photo courtesy of Caitlin McSweeny)

 excitement really rose as we pulled into Mokolodi Nature Reserve. Friday ended up being a day of settling in but ended on a high note – a bonfire. Our nature guide for the weekend was terrific as he set up the bonfire and an assortment of drums from all over Africa. He talked to the teens about the different kinds of drums, where they came from and what drums were used for in different parts of Africa. After the drum talk there was an impromptu dance / skit contest which ended up being pretty hilarious. The final activity – s’mores! At first the kids were skeptical as JP (another Peace Corps Volunteer) and I tried to explain the process. They had a hard time believing that if you stuck a marshmallow in the fire it actually tasted good! Nevertheless, after a few brave teens tried our treat, almost everyone was converted. 🙂

The bonfire wrapped up our Friday and it was time for bed. We all settled into our respective dorms for the night and though our girls chitchatted into the wee hours…I managed to get some sleep. (This was after I made a firm declaration to the girls that my eyes being closed meant I wanted to get some sleep…ha!)

Saturday morning we all woke up and headed into the common area for warm-ups/exercises which was pretty funny. JP led the session with all the zeal of an aerobics instructor and we were all awake after that. The rest of the day was filled with a life skills session on Love, Sex and Dating, games, a game drive, Teen Leader elections and a visit to the snake park.

Teen Leaders are elected teens who help us lead our Teen Club meetings and our teens took the election process very seriously! Our candidates gave speeches and then voting by secret ballot was conducted.

With the day’s activities finished we all ate dinner and then it was time for movie night! We set up a projector and cushions and all watched Transformers…it was a lot of fun…though many had fallen asleep halfway through the movie…it had been a busy day!

Sunday morning was our last day at Mokolodi. Much of the morning was spent wrapping things up. Our older teens

Mahalapye Teen Club Adult Volunteers take a short break for a photo shoot during the Mokolodi Camp. (Photo courtesy of Caitlin McSweeny)

 participated in a survey administered by the University of Botswana on adolescents living with HIV and our younger teens ended with arts & crafts. After that it was time to announce our Teen Leaders! As they gathered and the results were announced our new Teen Leaders were very excited. It will fun to see them in action as they lead their peers in upcoming months.

And then…just like that…it was time to head home. As we loaded the bus we all knew that our teens had a great weekend. They were able to make new friends, bond with each other and learn a few things along the way.

Each time that Teen Club happens I am reminded of what a great endeavor this project is and how much we all learn every time. I love watching the teens asking questions, having fun and enjoying life.

Our next Teen Club meets in just over a week…each month seems to fly by and it’s time to start planning for the next event. Teen Club ya chesa! (Teen Club rocks!)