REACH FOR A DREAM
A heated debate between two spirited men on the web-based 4×4 Community Forum led to 14 boys of the Reach for a Dream Foundation having the time of their lives – in Jeeps, on a 4×4 adventure track in Krugersdorp
Text and photography: Richard Johnston
The idea for the day came about when I got into a heated discussion with Doug Norval on the 4×4 Community forum. Words were exchanged between the two of us before we both realised we had the same intentions.
Who says a little arguing isn’t good for the soul? Doug informed me that he was in the initial stages of talking to Reach for a Dream Foundation (RFADF) to see what he could do for them. I immediately jumped at the opportunity to get involved.
I started a group called the JK Owners Social Group on the same website on which Doug and I had met. This group is exclusively for Jeep Wrangler JK owners and is used to plan outings and other JK related happenings.
My proposal to Doug and the RFADF was to put on a 4×4 adventure day for the boys, incorporating all the best things about 4×4-ing – and take them for an up close and personal meeting with Mother Nature. A “green” adventure, with some adrenaline thrown in for good measure.
This would also fall in line with the RFADF’s Captain Courage programme. This is designed to take the children out of their comfort zone and give them the opportunity to display a little courage. But in order to pull this day off, I was going to need sponsors.
About five or six phone calls later, the day was planned. My first call was to Andrew Ehlers of Zone Offroad. He was in. The same call went out to others and likewise, they all jumped at the opportunity.
Jannie Rykaart from Protea Eco Adventures runs the Jeep training from the Ngonyama Lion Lodge within the Krugersdorp Game Reserve. Usually, a training day at his facility includes a meet-and-greet with sandwiches, juices, tea and coffee. Then comes the training and orientation before the group heads into the game reserve for a short game drive en route to the lion enclosure to watch the lions feed.
There is more game viewing on the way to the old movie house for drinks. Then it’s on to the 4×4 training track, which offers most of the terrain and situations that one would find in the South African bush. Added to the mix are see-saws, axle twisters and other obstacles.
This was, in my opinion, the ideal day for the boys.
We had an early start, with participants scheduled to arrive at 09h30.
At 08h00, the place was already buzzing. Sponsors were putting up banners and signage, and food and drinks were being laid out. Pulse Medical had arranged for us to have two paramedics on hand.
Then the boys arrived with RFADF co-ordinator Angie Pape and volunteers. Angie hadn’t told the boys or the volunteers exactly what they would be doing, but when they saw the 16 Jeep Wranglers they were ready to roll.
We set off for the lion enclosure. It had been arranged that the lions would be fed that morning for our benefit.
Jannie taught the group about fauna and flora, involving the boys, and asking them questions about the animals they were viewing.
Next stop was the Avery. The terrain now required low range. The Jeeps crawled along, over rocks, mounds? you name it. As a lot of the vehicles had the tops down, and the boys were excitedly calling to each other, chirping away.
Not great for game viewing but they were having a ball.
We made our way to the old movie house for lunch that was sponsored by Renier Botha from Kumho Tyres.
Once lunch was done, we could finally get to the dirty stuff – the 4×4 adventure track.
We navigated our way through axle twisters and up and down steep inclines. The track then started to wind its way down the hill, with the occasional short, but steep descent, which had the boys hanging on.
At the bottom, we got to another set of axle twisters just before the see-saw. We lined up and slowly but surely edged forward on the poles, all of us keeping still. We were doing our best to get the Jeep balanced on top. We never got the balancing right, but the boys enjoyed it, nevertheless.
The next obstacle was the boys’ favourite (and mine!) – a 10m drop down an embankment into the river that runs through the course. Down we went, all hanging on to straps and handles for support. The boys’ excitement reminded me of the first time I went off road in my Jeep.
At prize-giving, we had another surprise in store. Part of the RFADF Captain Courage programme is to award the boys with a medal for having the courage to participate in the activities at that particular event.
Along with the medals, each boy received a replica Jeep Wrangler JK to take home, together with goodie bags.
The excitement the boys showed for something that we get to enjoy so often gave us a whole new perspective – and appreciation – for a day’s 4×4 outing.
We are indeed fortunate to have this lifestyle, and I’m glad we got to share it with some truly deserving boys. As a bonus they also got to learn a few things about nature, and about responsible off-road driving.
I can’t wait to do this again in March 2011.
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