“Life Through Adventure Conference”, Stanford Lake College in South Africa

Posted: 21 March 2022

Over a weekend in February, Stanford Lake College in South Africa hosted the first long-awaited in person conference of 2022. More than 70 delegates aged 14-15 from 10 schools gathered for four days to explore one of the Round Square IDEALS with a theme of “Life Through Adventure”.

The conference opened with the Round Square tradition of a Flag Ceremony, along with some amazing performances from Stanford’s student leaders. In true mountain style, there was a drum circle and an enchanting fire dance. Also following the tradition of RS Conferences, delegates had the opportunity to take part in community service during their time at Stanford Lake, and rolled their sleeves up to help en-masse to accelerate renovation and redecoration of Glenshiel Primary School.

As the weekend unfolded, staying true to the conference theme, Adventure activities included a night hike through the beautiful indigenous forests of the Magoebaskloof to the famous Cheerio Gardens, an Adventure Race including go-cart racing, scaling a climbing tower and raft-building. Students also ventured on a Canopy Tour and enjoyed a zip-lining experience high over the waterfalls and rapids of the Letaba River.

“My favourite activities were ziplining and building our own rafts,” said one student delegate from Gut Warnberg school in Germany, but also “the thing that will stay in my mind for probably my whole live time and which broke my heart a little bit, were the little children (at Glenshiel Primary School) we went to paint their playground colourful. Then I saw how much luck I had to grew in a family like mine with the opportunities I have. “

Delegates also enjoyed inspiring talks from seasoned Adventurers Pieter Geldenhuys, who shared his passion for traversing mountain peaks, and Peter van Kets, who shared stories about some of his adventures, including rowing the Atlantic and trekking to the South Pole. Of his adventures, Peter van Kets said: “I find that at times when I have pushed myself to a point where I think I cannot go any more – that is where I find the best me ever coming out”. Reflecting on the weekend’s activities he said “I always think about the stories”, and told delegates: ”You guys are going to have a story about this weekend, we don’t know what that complete story is yet; stories of meeting people, of working with teams…”

The speakers made a lasting impression on the delegates, as one student from Bridge House School reflected: “Both speakers have stuck with me and really changed my outlook on life…they spoke about the training they put in before achieving their dreams. Seeing how hard they both worked & how much they benefited from keeping to their regime, showed me that it’s not only hard work that matters, but also about consistency. Life is also not all about achieving your goals straight away, it’s also about your journey getting there.”

The Round Square Conference at Stanford Lake College made up for lost time during the pandemic by packing as many experiences as possible into four days. Students left exhausted but happy, having relished an opportunity to share unique experiences and make new friends with tears shed in the parking lot as they said their goodbyes. One student’s reflections summed up comments from many, in saying: “The Conference was truly one of the best experiences I have had. I am not originally from South Africa, so being able to visit such a beautiful part of the country was life changing. I learnt lessons such as patience, teamwork, perseverance, critical thinking & the importance of communication. I also matured as a person, made meaningful friendships, improved myself mentally & physically & made memories that will never be forgotten.”

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