Happy Acres

Formative in my life was my experience as a camper and a counsellor at Happy Acres, a nature holiday camp in the Magaliesberg. Lots of people can say that, and say it thanks to the camp founders: Ma 'n Pa Holland, their son Kiff and his partner Janet.

I first went at age 7, turning 8 during the camp, thus qualifying for attendance. At age 13, I was counselling, and kept up the connection till end of high school in '73.

It is an unusual and privileged thing to have had that opportunity, not least the learning that comes of being useful. For many of us, Kiff and Janet were the first (and last) adults to treat teenagers with respect and with the expectation that we could pull it off, while at the same time everyone having incredible fun. Did we grow!

Everyone has terrific anecdotes about camp, tricks to entertain kids, and a bank of bouncy songs to borrow from. Even lists of obscure plantlife. It was good to live through all these, and it provides - not speck, little or medium - but LOTS of added value to revisit them.

On 21 April, 2002, networks of ex-counsellors around the country got together for what seemed like an historic visit to SA by Kiff and his new partner, Sally. At Addo, Cape Town and Magaliesburg, we were able to remember the good times. See the photos. Kiff is now an artist, and ex-camper Rodney Jones who recognised one of his watercolours in a hotel in Calgary send me this copy.

Guy Berger, May 2002, updated January 2006

NEWS FLASH: Blog on camp now open! Veterans encouraged to post their comments, pictures, listings of plants, trees and dances.