More than a decade ago my son would show me a picture and ask me, “Mom is this a wellknown cricketer or a rugby player?” I always had a 50:50 chance of getting the answer right but I hated being wrong and the subject of hilarity! These questions were asked at the time that I was observing the endangered African Wild Dogs or Painted Hunting Dogs as I prefer to call them at various Wildereness Reserves around South Africa and Zimbabwe.
Each time I have been drawn to observe a different animal species it has been because they have had something to show me that help me towards healing, maturation and / or mental preparation for the life task at hand. I realized these valuable life lessons were not exlusive and should be shared.
My son’t provocation lead to me being an avid rugby supporter, especially the Super 12 and I soon knew much about the players, particularly the Stomers and the South African teams. I leant that early man and wild dog packs only survived because they nurtured kinship. I also recognized that friends who had played rugby in their youth were still connected. About the same time I read about Project Alcatraz in South America where youth at risk instead of ending up in prison were encouraged to participate in this Project where they learnt social skills and played rugby. The outcomes were emarkable, these same young men who had been involved in gangs and life-threatening activities were now holding down jobs and having successful family relationship of their own.
Increasingly I became aware of the need for people to have a sense of belonging in a group and that often our natural family groups are not able to fulfill that need with parents divorcing, poverty or being unavailable owing to work committments and their own life challenges.
I ingtegrated these understandings and approached Rudolph Straeli to engage the Stomers in some Wildlife Adventures as part of the personal development of indivdual team members as well as a cutting-edge way of connecting the whole team. Animals and tribal people are well-adapted to their environment and offer many valuable insights about relating and surviving as a pack. Getting back into a wilderness place that is harmonious, balanced, tried and tested over time, a great leveler – everyone is accepted for who they are, enables participants in these team building experiences to connect with themselves and thus with each other.
My insights were held in high regard and I almsot worked together in the mental preparations of the Springboks under the coaching leadership of Jake White and psychologist, Henning Gerricke. Unfortunately owing to the intense focus on physical training we ran out of time for our team building in the wild.