Having helped to form the street kids in the safe house in Kisii into a Scout Group (1st Nyakoe) in 2009, it was thought to be appropriate to organise a Scout camp for them on our return. So that’s what we did. A group of twenty four leaders, Network members and Explorer Scouts from Lewisham District returned to Kenya in July 2012 and, on arrival, headed straight for Rowallan, Kenya’s National Scout Campsite in Nairobi. Apart from fending off the monkeys and the odd baboon that were keen to discover who we were and what food we had brought with us, we put up our own tents and looked forward to the street kids’ arrival the following day.
When the kids arrived, they eagerly put up their own tents and began to explore their new home for the next three days. It did not take long for everyone to become one big, happy family. As the Olympics were taking place in London at the same time, we thought it appropriate to hold our own games as part of the programme of activities – but a scaled down version that included egg & spoon and balloon between the knees races! Much fun was had by all. While we were in Nairobi we took the boys to both the Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage and to the Giraffe Centre. These young people live in Africa, but had not before seen one of the things that the continent is famous for – it’s abundant wildlife. The looks on their faces ranged from utter astonishment to gleeful amazement. They did not stop talking about the experience until a few days later when we took them on a game drive in Nakuru National Park on the way back to the safe house. That was when they came face to face with wild animals in their own environment and, once the initial surprised silence had ended, the volume of their animated conversations became quite infectious, and very difficult to turn down. It also gave them something new to talk about for many days to follow.
We then spent the next four days camping in the grounds of the safe house. While most of the boys were at school during the day, we spent our time very constructively and effectively by building a weather proof shelter over the cooking area; putting guttering up to capture rain water into a massive water butt we had purchased; undertaking running repairs to the chicken house; repairing or replacing some of the perimeter fencing; and sorting out countless bags of donated clothing.
When we left the safe house, the sobbing from both members of our team and from the boys was audible. It had been another very special and very personal experience for everyone concerned.
But, we all then had the remainder of the trip to look forward to and enjoy; the highlights of which have to be a return visit to Lord Baden Powell’s former cottage (now a Scouting museum) and his grave at Nyeri; a boating ‘safari’ on Lake Naivasha; a walking ‘safari’ in the 1,300 acres of the Aberdare Country Club and getting up close to a large herd of giraffes; and staying overnight in The Ark in Aberdare National Park, that overlooks a waterhole and the abundant wild animals that visit it. Another great adventure; another successful expedition; another unique experience.