Keep Them Safe Stage 3, part 2 –The journey continues

KTS kids cleaning up Jonkershoek
KTS kids cleaning up Jonkershoek


kids not only had to be convinced to come. They also had to be convinced to stay.

And so, even though they adapted and improvised on the fly,  PITCH teams stuck to the broad outline of the programme because it was designed with this purpose in mind. Kids were motivated by a go cart rally, an arts project, a performing arts competition and a sports day.All these were carefully timed and the weekly programme specifically shaped to keep building the dramatic tension that would keep everyone interested until the very end…

The Perfect PITCH  programme was its own perfect pitch. Once kids got caught up in the excitement, there was no falling back.

This article gives a broad overview of the entire 4 week programme as the central 3 stages of the journey for the kids in the Keep Them Safe holiday project.  These stages are:

Stage 2: Preparing for the Journey

Stage 3: The Journey itself

Stage 4: Ordeal and Reward

To recap: Every journey that you design for the purpose of transforming people will have 5 stages. And most projects like this one will include at tleast 2 such 5 stage journeys. At some point these 2 journeys will begin to overlap.

For us in the KTS project, the 2 journeys would begin to overlap as soon as the second journey also hit the third stage: the journey itself.

The KTS project focussed on 5 areas of activity:

  1. Sport
  2. Entrepeneurship
  3. Arts and Carafts
  4. Performing Arts and
  5. Compassion days

The first 4 areas were running as workshops on Mondays, Tuesdays Thursdays and Fridays. Kids could choose which workshop they wanted to join. These were aimed mostly at older kids and youth, but eventually everyone took part, since there was not enough of the older ones to go around.

On Wednesdays everyone would do compassion day. This meant that they would go out to serve their own community in some way: visiting the elderly and ill, cleaning up the park, planting trees or painting a building or play equipment.

 Appart from compassion days, every workshop was designed as a journey to keep kids engaged. All of them followed the same basic pattern:

Week 1 Prepare for the workshop activities

Weeks 2 and 3: challenges and events

Week 4 Final competitions and reward ceremony.

Week 1: Rotating workshops

To help kids overcome their doubts and fears, the first week was set up so that they could do a different workshop every day. This way they had a whole week to decide where they wanted to commit for the rest of the programme.  They could get to know each facilitator and the requirements for each workshop so that they could find their place. They would receive an introductory experience that would prepare them for what was to come…

Weeks 2 and 3 were designed to keep everyone engaged. An exciting goal was set for each week end to focus the energy and keep them amped.

Week 2: Go Cart Rally

The adults’ journey began when they first began to raise awareness in their communities for the kids by organising pre holiday events (see previous posts). As the kids’ journey kicked in everyone was now in the same stage of the adventure.

At the end of week 2 on Saturday 26 June we hosted a great go cart rally. Every community built their own cart, decorated it and found businesses to sponsor them. They created cheerleader outfits from recyclable material and worked out some cheers to egg on their teams. Almost 100 people from every community were transported to a central place in Jonkershoek Stellenbosch.

They were judged on the number of laps they completed in 45 min, the presentation of their cart and stand, their cheer leaders and their general team spirit.

Week 3: Community Arts productions

At the end of week 3 a 30 min performing arts production had to be completed and performed to the parents as a dress rehearsal. At the same time, a 1.5 by 2 meter canvas had to be finished with art and graffiti around a particular theme.

To re-focus all the energy from go carts to arts, we sent guest facilitators in to look at what the groups have been doing and help them improve their standard. This proved an essential ingredient. Without it I am not sure all the communities would have had a product to show. This strategy was planned as a ‘fairy godmother’ strategy. The mentor appears to help the hero over a slump. This kept all engaged and focussed for another week.

Everyone now faced the Ordeal and Reward of week 4., the last week of the programme.

Keep Them Safe Stage 3, part 1 – The journey begins

Klapmuts soup drinkers giving the thumbs up
Klapmuts soup drinkers giving the thumbs up


on the first and second days, it was pouring with rain. When the clouds finally cleared, the mountains were covered in snow. Needless to say, very few kids came to the activities. This proved to be the first of many unforeseen obstacles on the road to running a successful holiday programme.

Because of this, PITCH teams adapted their plans and issued new calls to adventure. They nursed the kids through their doubts and fears with hot soup and warm smiles and an explosive first week line up! .  

For over 3 months we recruited, trained and nurtured about 200 adult volunteers to get them ready, so that they can get us ready. Then the time for preparation simply ran out and the Journey was upon us.

On 11 June Bafana Bafana scored the first goal of the Fifa Soccer World Cup and the following Monday on 14 June KTS kicked off. It was rainy and freezing cold but all over Stellenbosch courageous teams stood ready for kids who needed warm food and entertainment.

It is now nearly 2 weeks later and numbers are increasing every day.

But where do the kids come from? How did they know to come and where to come too? How did they know what they would find when they got there?

While the journey started form the adults and organisers, the kids still needed to be Called to Adventure.

You may have read earlier that we are designing 2 journeys simultaneously.

  1. Keep Them Safe: a story about adults putting together a holiday programme for kids during the Fifa Soccer World Cup
  2. The Perfect PITCH: a story about kids and young people playing and working to express themselves through Arts, culture, sport and entrepreneurship

Of course it is not true that the holiday programme started with marketing. In actual fact, the compassion days each community had to organise in preparation for the holiday programme also functioned as marketing events for the kids and young people.

Many communities followed these up with various events like talent shows and modelling competitions to get the kids’ attention. At the same time we, As back bone team, appointed a group to run a marketing campaign in schools to advertise the programme

At all these events the 3 elements of the Call to Adventure were taking into account:

  1. Who is the target audience? What are their characteristics, strengths and weaknesses?
  2. What do their Ordinary Worlds look like? How are they stuck?
  3. What is our promise to them?

But something went wrong with the marketing… when KTS kicked off, only young kids arrived. There were very few, if any, young people older than 11.  What happened?

One reason was that the schools that were visited with the marketing group were mostly primary schools, so the older kids never heard the Call. Although all Secondary Schools were also targeted, few opened their doors for the marketing group.

Also the holiday programme was designed so that young kids would play from 9 to 12 and the older ones from 11 to 14:00. This was hard to advertise and communicate it seems. Youngsters who did arrive came early with the little ones and then left when they saw too few of their own age there.

When PITCH teams saw this trend, many came up with good ideas in the first week to get youngsters on board. Some paraded through the streets with music and mega phones calling the kids out of their homes and out of the streets. Others changed their programmes by using the older kids who came early to assist with the young ones. Eventually in some communities the two sepearte programmes have now just fused into one.

Finally, a team of photographers and writers have added their weight to our project and have taken it upon them to make the project more visible in the local media. We ar forever thankful to them.  Thank you to the adult Asset Builders of Stellenbosch.

Eventually we are noticing that the best Call to Adventure for the older kids is the content of the programme itself. The longer it runs, the more friends tell each other and the more kids and young people pitch for the perfect PITCH.

The Perfect PITCH programme is its own ‘perfect pitch’.

Why? Because kids, but especially young people are full of fears and doubts and it takes time for them to overcome these and commit fully to the adventure. Maybe more on that next time as we go a little deeper into the design of the programme itself and look at The Perfect PITCH – preparing kids for their journey.