I had the pleasure of being in Johannesburg for a week before our current camp session (the 82nd!). I attended a Board of Directors meeting for our sister organization in South Africa, (Camp Sizanani Life Skills) and also led a meeting of our South African counselor staff.
Both meetings went well. The Board is fully engaged and encouraging the office's accreditation efforts. Having an understanding of the detail and volume of compliance issues makes them realize what a great job our Country Director, Mpumi Maesela, and the office staff are doing in addition to their operating the camp and club programs. We hope the process will conclude soon with happy results.
Like the peasant who complained about the size of his home and getting advice from his counselor to keep move one more animal into the house each day, we hope that the staff will feel as though they are on holiday when they "just" have camp and clubs to administer.
The meeting with our South African counselor staff, whom we call “vochellis,” was designed to explain to them the requirements we face with accreditation and that certain requirements, such as proof of residency, their ID card, etc., were not being imposed by the office but were required by funders we are hoping will sponsor our program. As with any new structure or expectations, we’re all adjusting and trying to understand what is needed…but the vochellis asked good questions and were eager to make the necessary adjustments for the good of Camp Sizanani.
I took advantage of having time between meetings to connect with Vochelli Lerato, who had a baby last year and who hasn't been at camp since. I also visited Vochelli Nathabiseng, an arts and crafts counselor, who has been teaching and pursuing her career in the arts.
I also made a longer than usual shopping expedition to the African Market at Rosebank Mall as well as to street vendors to replenish the jewelry we sell at the Lake Anne Farmers Market in Reston on Saturdays from May through November. Our volunteers this year, Susan Jones and Lisa Jansons Gray, have done a terrific job at the market this year, and I was happy to follow their shopping list. My only foray into spontaneity at the market were two large animals, one elephant and one rhino, with multi-colored beads over a wire frame. They are car-stopping-and-turning-around spectacular and that's just what I did. I passed the display on the street while driving and went and bargained with them on the spot. We’re planning to put those two special items in the silent auction at our New York event this October 24th. I hope many of you will come and see them in person!