So Tawny was chosen to go on a German Guide/Scout Exchange read all about her adventures here 🙂
From the 3rd of July 2017 to the 21st of July 2017, Rangers and Young leaders (aged between 18 and 25) from Gauteng Central and Rustenburg participated in an exchange program with the Bavarian Scouts. The theme was “Host mi” which was based on cultural differences. Our journey began way before the third of July. As part of the requirements for the program, we had to attend two prep camps and one post camp.
The first prep camp was an opportunity to meet the people we would be sharing 19 amazing days with. The camp was held in Rustenburg, we played a few icebreaker games to get to know each other. We discussed our expectations, uniforms, and agreed to a few rules for when we would be in Germany.
To sum it up, we decided to live by the 10 guide laws, have fun and most importantly as our teddy motto says: we would “always try”. The two leaders randomly drew names and paired us as twins. Each twin-pair had one girl from Rustenburg and one from Gauteng central. The twins would have to be together right through the trip, and would be hosted by the same family.
The second prep camp was held at Trefoil park (Gauteng Central). We received our t-shirts, decided on the gifts for our hosts and the people we would meet. We started working on a scrapbook that we would give to the committee at the end of our stay in Bavaria. We also prepared for our visa appointments the day after camp. The weeks after prep camp 2 were full of excitement and anticipation especially after getting the visas.
On the third of July, we met at OR Tambo, all dressed in full uniforms, with our international scarves and navy blue fleeces which had the exchange logo and our first names.
After a long flight and a stop at Istanbul, we landed in Munich, all tired and longing for a shower and a bed. We could see through the window, two ladies and two gentlemen dressed in scout uniforms and a little boy. We were warmly welcomed by Caro, Heike, Lukas, Gust and Xavier (Gust’s son aka Kagiso). They had two mini buses. We loaded our rucksacks and headed towards Regensburg. The first thing we experienced in Bavaria was having a taste of “Radler” in the mini bus. We stopped for lunch at a picnic spot along the Regen river. Our hosts had brought pretzels, bread, sausages, a variety of spreads, cheeses and a lot of Radler and water. We got an opportunity to change and headed to Monte Kaolino.
There was no better way of getting over the fatigue from a 10h flight than a walk on this sand mountain followed by a roller coaster ride (Well two rides!).
Some of the girls sat with Caro and Heike. The other half walked up the sand dunes, stopping when they felt they could not go higher. Neinei went all the way to the top with Gust, Lukas and Xavier as we all cheered her on. Heike gave us tickets for two roller coaster rides each. I chose to go with my twin on both rides. The first one at a relatively low speed because we were a bit scared. The second ride, we doubled the speed and a lot more fun. After Monte Kaolino, we headed to Weiden. The block house was going to be our home for the next 3 nights.
We finally got an opportunity to bath and relax. Gunta, the area commission was braaing meat for us. After the delicious dinner, we re-introduced ourselves and Gust told us about the program for the next few days. We were given two circles, one the yellow one, we wrote what we wanted to experience in Germany while the blue one had things we didn’t want to experience. We placed these circles on mobiles above the dining room. The yellow ones on the “suns” and blue ones on the “clouds”.
On Wednesday morning, five of the girls went grocery shopping with Heike. Then, we visited an open air museum. After the visit, we had lunch, followed by some sort of a bowling game. It was more difficult than the conventional 10pin bowling. This involved throwing a wooden ball to hit Wood pins on a wooden platform.
We then stopped at a spot along the Regen river where some of us swam. On our way to the block house, we stopped in town to connect to the Wi-Fi and get in touch with our families. When we got home, some girls cooked and we had dinner. After dinner, Stefan, a trainer for scout leaders introduced us to their training module for the leader’s wooden badge. Stefan mentioned that in his class, they were travelling around the world and that he had planned “South Africa” as their next destination. He asked if we would be able to join his class and sing a song or two. We had our reflections and then had free time/ bed time. The reflections were our exclusive moment where we talked about what we liked and didn’t like about the day and resolved any issues.
On Thursday, we visited the Modlareuth museum. Modlareuth is a German village situated partly in Bavaria and partly in Thuringia. Referred to as ‘’little Berlin”, this village was divided by a wall like the Berlin wall had divided Berlin. Our visit started with a presentation about the history of the village and information related to the political system at that time. Afterwards, we had a tour of the museum where we saw the old watch towers, remaining of the wall and fences and old cars.
We went to a picnic spot for lunch. Afterwards, we went to a refugee school where Anna (a scout leader) teaches German.
We played games with the refugees, throwing paint on a white sheet. Later, each twinset joined a couple of refugees to make a painting.
One of the people at the school mentioned that he had never seen those refugees so happy! We had free time that afternoon. Some went for ice-cream and Wi-Fi while others simply relaxed.
Anna joined us again and from there, we went to her scouts meeting. We met outdoor. A couple of leaders came to assist her. The topic of the week was First Aid. The leaders formed 3 group and set up their bases. The scout, split in 3 groups, went to each base to complete a task and then move to another base. The girl guides were split into the 3 scout groups and participated in the activities.
Afterwards, the scouts made first aid kits and we assisted them. We then had dinner there. There was a lot of pretzels, bread, sausages, cold meat, etc. We went back to the house, had reflections and then free time.