The Surfer Kids @ UST New Year Surf Camp
Previous posts about NY SURF CAMP:
Some of you may have seen a photo I took recently. We posted it on Facebook. The photo is not great quality, as it was taken on a Blackberry Smart-Phone and these phones are notorious for their crappy built-in cameras. But this particular shot was worth a thousand words. It was a photo of Jenya, sitting at a computer, surrounded by twelve young kids.
Each an individual child. With a unique history. And yet, there we were…
They (or rather the school) had been given a computer room, complete with all the basic software and a constant internet connection fast enough to watch you-tube videos. We assume that it was a local Internet Service provider that did the installation.
And yet, there we were…
Of course you can’t really understand, and neither can I really explain, but suffice it to say; it was almost surreal…
Imagine driving into a rural village. You’re driving on a wide gravel road. Your vehicle orchestrates a hap-hazard symphony of small stones clanging against the undercarriage. Unless you’re driving a bakkie, you should probably slow down. You drive past various farms, most of them cattle farms. But there are also a few fields with vegetables, corn and some horses. You drive up a steep hill and around a sharp corner. You’ve reached the outskirts of the village. The main road is still gravel and dusty. Rain damage is clearly evident. As you drive into the village, past the local sports field, there is a number of improvised shacks next to the road. There are a few tarred roads further into the settlement, but no pavements. The houses are a mix. Some colourful double story homes. But most are old farm workers’ homes, some badly neglected. Others are well-kept.
In the distance a newly paved brick road leads over a hill, between two old farmhouses, ready to collapse. But they’re occupied. Possibly without running water. You know that on the other side of the hill lies a cleared area, ready for the installation of small RDP Homes. But, for now, wooden poles demarcate the dreams of a better future for a large portion of families who live in improvised structures attached to old houses.
There are three shops. One of them is operated through a hole-in-the wall. It is a modest but very tidy home. There lives Antie Pop. She is eighty years old and she had the last of her nine children at the age of 41. She operates her shop from seven in the morning until seven in the evening.
All three shops have small fridges but only one sells edible cheese.
You’re less than a kilometre down the main road and you’ve almost passed the town. There is an old derelict bus stop, where a cow appreciates the shade. Finally you see the church; which was built in the 1800’s and is the oldest building in Friemersheim. Next to the church is an old oak tree that was planted when the church was being constructed by German Missionaries. Now, on your right hand side, is a Community Hall and as you drive further into the village there is an island in the road. Low stone walls split the road down the middle. Like most of the surrounding buildings the stone walls are cracked in places. On the island grows another oak tree, which is nearly as old as the one growing next to the church.
You drive past the crèche, through the school gates and onto the primary school’s solitary field. The grass is long and wild. Sometimes the kids play sports, but apparently they have no real coach.
The school accommodates one hundred and sixty kids from grade one to seven. There are four classrooms, four teachers, a very small library, a kitchen (from where they feed some of the kids) and a small office complex. Two of the classrooms are old and built from stone, while the office complex is newer. The other two classrooms are pre-fabricated buildings.
Then there is the faint but familiar hum of a high-tech air conditioning unit. It sounds out of place. Even the principal’s office doesn’t have any air-conditioning.
As you walk through the door you are confronted with a modern computer classroom housing 30 networked computers. It looks odd. Out of place.
They’re not fast, but once you get the machines going they’re good enough to do almost anything you would want to do.
According to their own estimate the kids use the computers maybe once a month. And when they do, the Internet doesn’t feature, at all, in what they’re learning.
Out of the group we worked with that day, only one child knew how to switch the computers on and log onto the system. And even he did not really know what he was doing when he logged onto the system… He was copying the teachers parrot style, because the teachers themselves do not know what they’re doing when they press a few keys and click a button to magically make the computer come alive…
It is pointless, but who could you possibly blame if you wanted to start playing the blame-game? They simply do not have enough teachers. And the teachers that they do have does not know the basics when it comes to computers.
So here we are… In a world of many children and very few teachers… While most adults are off doing other stuff, most of which pales into insignificance when compared to the need for education, children learn to become just like us… It should be obvious that, unless we change, our kids will neglect our grandchildren also.
Jenya actually offered her help. She was prepared to teach official computer lessons at the school, but the principal seemed reluctant to make his life even more difficult than it already was. How would he explain this to the department? We travel a lot with Unravel Surf Travel and therefore cannot commit according to official school requirements, on a permanent weekly basis. Some weeks we are there, other times we are gone on Surf Camps for up to two weeks at a time. If he were to allocate time within official school hours the department would want to know what and when we planned on doing, way in advance. We don’t even plan our own lives that far ahead. We cannot afford to and expect to survive in this travelling business of ours. School structures leave little room for reckless improvisation, while we make our plans based upon the beauty of improvisation. That is what real travelling is all about; allowing the beauty of the world to show itself instead of trying to enforce your particular vision of prettiness.
Remember? Let Thy will be done, for my will is insignificant compared to the vast scope of everything in existence…
So what to do?
Enter The Surfer Kids!
We simply asked the principal, Mr Speelman, if we could use the computer classroom outside of school hours. We would offer a Computer & Internet Workshop as part of The Surfer Kids’ already existing program. That way we bypassed a silly system that looks after bureaucratic control before it considers practicality and necessity.
This is the beauty of The Surfer Kids: because it is voluntary it has all the benefits of teaching but fewer of its drawbacks. Don’t be fooled however. It is difficult working with these kids, they have their particular issues. But I survive because of the improvisational structure upon which we rely. It allows for the flow of the universe / reality / God itself to be incorporated in everything that we do.
Twelve kids showed up for our first Computer & Internet Workshop and we achieved stunning success on the first day! The kids did not want to go home after a two-hour workshop! They just wanted more!
The workshop was based around e-mail and the function of search engines. We showed them how to set up their own e-mail and then, out of their own accord, they swapped e-mail addresses with one another and started sending e-mails! Off course we prepared for the workshop, only a fool would attempt something like this without some consideration, but we did not anticipate the kids sending emails to one another. And yet, when it happened unexpectedly, it was allowed to happen…
Because our plans were not set in unyielding stone, what was good was allowed to flourish. This is the way of the universe and life itself…
Look around and you will see for yourself ~ that which works, is allowed to flourish… That which doesn’t work, eventually extinguishes itself…
And this is how the story of THE SURFER KIDS & UNRAVEL SURF TRAVEL will continue… Not according to what I have planned for us, but according to the guiding intelligence of the universe…
And if you happen to believe that there is no ‘intelligence’ out there other than our own human intelligence, think again. 100 billion galaxies, each of which consists of billions of stars, some stars many times bigger than our own sun. And they all co-exist. We cannot even count the stars in our own galaxy, nor the galaxies of the universe but we like to call ourselves intelligent… We cannot even co-exist with one another on one tiny little planet and we believe ourselves to be the grandest and most intelligent thing there is…
I do not advocate a fundamentalist belief in any Religion. But neither do I advocate ignorant arrogance based on the assumptions of a relatively primitive intellect… Instead, somewhere in the middle, lies a resignation unto the unknown…
What will happen with The Surfer Kids? I do not know precisely. Not even approximately. I know what I want, but I also know that I am just a tiny part of ALL that is.
What I want may not be the best of what is possible.
But I do know what we have achieved so far.
Below is a gallery of photographs. This collection of photographs features The Surfer Kids and all these photos were taken during our recent New Year Surf Camp. As an illustration of what I tried to explain here, look at the photos carefully. You will notice that The Surer Kids did not only surf. This is because we improvise. If surfing is not an option why leave the kids at home? If our plans were set in stone, we would not have been able to achieve what we did. Many of the plans were improvised a day or two in advance, in response to a Dynamic Surf Camp Travel Program. Some plans were even made on the move… Sometimes out of necessity other times for the sake of adventure.
Most Travel Agents / Tour Guides will try to sound wise and say that you have to be prepared for the unexpected. But very few of them will actually welcome or pursue the unexpected.
We do it because we see that it is the way of the universe. The only constant is change.
Yours in surfing, love and life
Hermann & Jenya
Unravel Surf Travel
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