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EXCITED children at the Cape Times Fresh Air Fund holiday camp at Froggy Pond in Simon’s Town couldn’t stop cheering in delight when for the first time they were taken to a beach.
First they were treated to a performance by this year’s SA champion magician Matt Gore that made their troubles evaporate in smoke, even if only for a day. The children are aged six to nine from disadvantaged communities and children’s homes across the peninsula.
A group of lively young camp leaders kept the excitement high and afterwards led the children, walking in line, to the beach.
“We bring together all the children, feed and entertain them to make them feel appreciated,” Clyde Broster, a trustee, said.
The children received complimentary camp clothing, toothbrushes and are given three meals a day. The fund’s trustee Les Williams said everything is paid for by the readers of the Cape Times.
“We urge the readers to keep on donating clothes and money to the fund. The camp operates solely on generous Capetonians,” Williams said.
Four camps – two separate camps for six- to eight-year-old boys and girls, and two separate camps for boys and girls aged eight to 12 – are held over the summer holidays. One camp is held in the mid-year break. During the school term camps are held for 400 mentally disabled children.
The fund was established in 1919, has a full-time secretary, Zanyiwe Mankabane, and a board of trustees.
Matriculants, university students and youths mostly from church groups are usually recruited and trained to work with the children. Six children are assigned to one camp leader.
One of the 28 camp leaders Erica Bantham, a Grade 12 pupil at Garlandale High School in Athlone, said: “This is my way of giving back to the community. I didn’t grow up with much and I feel good doing something good for others.”
Over the years the fund has paid for about R50-million worth of renovations to the camp buildings, even though the property belongs to the state. Contributions can be sent to The Cape Times Fresh Air Fund, PO Box 56, Cape Town, 8000.