Time is running out to buy your tickets to our Fall Fete. We hope to see you there!
The night promises to be exciting with open bar, live DJ, a silent auction, camp-themed activities, plus continued access to Avenue following the conclusion of the event. Bid on sports, travel, luxury goods, and unique experiences during the silent auction. A catalog of items will be shared on GCA's website and via email to all attendees two weeks prior to the event.
Thanks to your generosity, more children will have an opportunity to become safe and productive adults who have hope for the future. We hope to see you there!
For more details or to purchase tickets today, click here.
64 Sessions of Camp Sizanani!
The 64th session of Camp Sizanani was another success, it’s hard to believe that 7,226 campers have joined us for this life changing experience. A special thanks to Marc and Carol Pohl, and Maureen O’Malley, our international vochellis. Dr. Marc Pohl served as the doctor at this session of camp and found time to visit many of our sessions. He thought the vochellis did an incredible job connecting with the campers. He particularly loved attending life skills sessions.
A special thanks to our Board Member, Karyn Trader-Leigh, who came to South Africa early and hosted an inclusivity- diversity training and a coaching session for staff and vochellis before camp started . It was a great learning experience for all. Karyn returned home super-charged from her first Camp Sizanani experience.
Report from the Field: Kim Posthumus, Office Manager and Program Officer
My second trip to Camp Sizanani was an inspirational one. There was an exciting air of energy at this session of camp because 10 new vochellis were completing their training at this session of camp. One of the new vochellis that I met was a former camper herself. Over the last six years she has begun her modeling career and proactively reached out to Camp Director KB to give the same inspiration to campers she received at Camp Sizanani when she attended in 2009.
One of my favorite experiences of camp was on one of the last evenings of camp. Phil and I and a few other vochellis read the story, The Day Gogo Went to Vote by Elinor Sisulu to each of the cabins. It’s a moving children’s story about a 100 year old grandmother who goes to vote for the first time in her life in 1994. It was a great opportunity for the campers to think about Democracy and discuss the major leadership lessons they learned over the last 7 days. We challenged campers to think about what they might expect from their political leaders; integrity, respect, communication, and standing up for those without a voice. Some students wanted to discuss politics, but it was a great reminder for campers that this wasn’t a conversation about political parties and policies, but their civic duty as future leaders to stay involved in their future.
When we debriefed with the campers and asked them what they liked best, many campers said they felt respected for the first time and were proud to be engaged in an “adult” conversation. Other younger campers simply loved being read a bedtime story, because it was something that wasn’t done at home. It was incredible to see the power of camp at work, a fun and simple bedtime story started a discussion about leadership and civic duty for campers.
Report from the field - President and Founder, Phil Lilienthal
As I look back at this session of camp I’m impressed by how each camp session has the same spirit of Camp Sizanani but each iteration of campers and vochellis bring their own unique imprint to each camp. This year, our pre-camp training reminded me of the power our counselors have to help the r campers reach their fullest potential. Vochellis arrive with their own stories of trauma and challenges and in four days they find themselves in a safe place to open up and share stories for the first time.
At our end-of-training campfire, one vochelli disclosed, for the first time, about his time in school and an encounter with a local brutal gang. After being, “saved” by the gang from a fabricated instance of violence from the gang, its leaders made extreme requests of him, including giving him a gun and telling him to kill someone of his choosing to show his worthiness. He was unable to do it and was threatened and beaten. The threats from the gang created so much fear he elected to fail the last year of school 4 times because he feared for his own life if he passed (another test of his masculinity). Finally, at camp, a safe place away from the gang, he felt strong enough to share this story.
Another vochelli had been raped while a young child, infected with HIV, raped again as a young adult lesbian (corrective rape) and impregnated, had the child, and became strengthened to become a LGBT spokesperson.
At the heart of these stories like these, the vochellis find strength and support in the group to channel their trauma and grief into a place of empathy where they use their past as fuel to assert themselves and to teach campers how to overcome similar situations in their lives.
I’m continually inspired and amazed by our vochellis and I am reminded how lucky we are to have local South African young adults as leaders at Camp Sizanani. Their experience and ability to connect with campers, gives them a unique vantage point from which to relate to the campers.