News from SCIS:

Secondary Savage Wilderness

February 19th is likely to remain in the consciousness of many adults and students as the beginning of an awesome week in Sagana, Kenya. 54 students and four teachers departed to undertake five days of breathless exhilaration that would stretch their mental capacities to accept what was possible and impossible to complete.

The group were heading for Savage Wilderness, a campsite north of Nairobi. The trip wasn’t all plain-sailing (in fact there wasn’t any sailing, plain or rough) and began, unknown to everyone, with five of the group somehow missing immigration at the border, and so entering Kenya as illegal immigrants. That fact wouldn’t be discovered until we tried to exit five days later.

The first day ended with a huge shock for the students. All of their smart phones, electronic games, and connections to the outside world were taken from them and they were told they wouldn’t see them for five days. They were astounded. They didn’t know how they would cope. But the days were so full that the devices seemed hardly missed at all.

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During the days we tried mountain biking, archery, rock climbing and canoeing, and the evenings were filled with night games and fun activities. By huge consensus, though, the highlight of the week was white-water-rafting, which took up a whole day of driving to the drop off point, then rafting back to camp over steep, frothing rapids.  The screams were deafening, and the immense pleasure derived from surviving spurred tales of ‘near-death’ from several.

Sleep came easily to all and most were quiet (maybe sleeping) by 9.30pm and had to be roused from the tents the next morning at 7am. The food was excellent, as was the company of the instructors detailed to our camp. It all made for a very enjoyable week, and the enjoyment from having their phones returned in time for the journey back capped it all.

Oh, and the illegal immigrants? They were all summoned to speak to the chief customs officer, who smiled at the apologetic, worried faces, and forgave them all, stamping both entry and exit visas into their passports within 10 seconds of each other – perhaps a world-record short visit for the books. Who knows, any historians perusing the files in 100 years may well question why those five names only spent miniscule seconds in Kenya before fleeing alarmed back to Arusha.

David Owen (ICT Teacher and Trip Leader)