During the weekend of 22nd July a group of students from De Doorns came together for a weekend of interactive adventurous character development.
Not sure what to expect the students arrived in the cold wet Grabouw, Back to Basics Campsite, bags packed and in their existing group of friends. This will soon be challenged as teams are divided and new friendships formed. During the 3 day camp these young students had to endure going through the endurance trail, walking through dark woods at night, had to learn how to rely and assist each other to complete tasks as a team.
Throughout this camp, “The Ultimate gift”, the students received and learned a series of vital gifts including: The gift of problems, gift of friendship, the gift of work, the gift of a day, the gift of family and the ultimate gift of Character and love.
The camp was filled with open hearted discussions, interaction, high adrenaline team activities, hard work and learning how character truly makes the difference.
Vera Kiryukova, a youth coach from Moscow, asked Desmond Denton in an interview to share more about the Young Elephants Character Coaching and camps.
Vera: In my experience of training and development, I have found that there are an incredible amount of training initiatives around the world. All of them have a very specific focus area. Tell me more about why you get excited about Character training and specifically youth coaching?
Desmond Denton: With the Character programs we have a holistic approach with the following focus areas: Business/ Workplace; education; faith based; family; Government institution and civil services; media/ recreation and sport; community/ environmental affairs & organisation; youth
Specifically to youth: In a fast changing world, what are the things that truly matters? We realise the nerve-racking questions youth face today, including “which career to choose”. The choice they make may accompany them for most of their life; therefore it is important that they have a good framework and guidance from which to choose. Many problems in today′s classroom can be traced to a lack of character—bullying, tardiness, disrespect for teachers, cheating, vandalism, profanity and drug abuse. By developing character we correct bad attitudes, feelings, thoughts and decisions
We realise that young people are a source of untapped energy, “young elephants”- Their bodies, their dreams, their desires, the way in which they express and perceive life. Through the Young Elephants Character Coaching and Camps we offer a way to develop this energy potential. We understand that each person has his/ her own unique path of success and encourage them to make their life an authentic masterpiece with Character at the root.
"Much education today is monumentally ineffective. All too often we are giving young people cut flowers when we should be teaching them to grow their own plants” John Gardner
We truly believe in challenging youth to “grow plants” themselves by developing their unique skills and character.
Vera Kiruykova: Tell us more about what makes the Young Elephants Coaching program unique?
Desmond Denton: This comprehensive program is based on Character research throughout the world. A system of 49 Character values allows breaking down the concept of character into practical daily implementations. The program consists of personal coaching and assessments as well as team based intervention camps.
The young Elephants Character coaching is an effective, practical and simple way of giving your child or student the tools and strategies to find and achieve their potential.
Character coaching is a process of teaching moral and achievement character values. It combines interactive discussions with real life case problems, “my story” self-presentation and practical application guidance. The highly interactive coaching focuses on recognising the problems and searching for the best way to solve them by developing character values. The coaches challenge learners to engage and take responsibility through authentic discussions, activities and assessments. In short the personal coaching focus on enhancing the unique capacity and Character standing in the youth, so that they can be capable to connect, collaborate, contribute and be part of the positive change with Character. More than talk… the power of ideas to change and challenge individuals and communities to walk the talk.
We truly believe that: One determined Young Character Elephant can make a significant difference, and a small group of determined Character Elephants can change the course of history.
As part of Character Coaching, student’s unique designs are evaluated through reliable assessments including the highly validated Career Direct. Developed over a ten year period and rigorously tested, Career Direct has been successfully used by collages, academic institutions, ministries and counselling in 8 countries. Career Direct assessment provides you with over 21 pages of personalised reports which help to choose their career from more than 30 000 job variants.
Character Camps offer guided enforcement and further character cultivation through adventurous experiential activities and healthy social interaction. It is an opportunity to develop intra-personal skills and leadership attributes through physical and mental challenges, creative work and Character Based reflections.
Through the coaching we prepare the youth to the elephants’ call.
Vera Kiryukova: The elephant sure is a truly marvellous creature to mention, specifically when talking about youth. What is the elephants’ call that you talk about?
Desmond Denton: The call comes with the many rights and freedom we in South Africa have been privileged to inherit from the sacrifice, hard work and character of those who came before us. The call is to challenge youth to take these rights, grow in Character and live a full and significant life. It is one thing to have the rights, but in order for it to be upheld we have certain responsibilities. It is about challenging them to get involved in something that matters, something they care about so much so that they want to make it the greatest it can possibly be. In short a Young Character Elephant leader responds to the call and is known for:
· Having wide eyes to see further, to see the horizon
· Having strong shoulders to carry the burdens and responsibilities
· Understanding the value of Ubuntu, does not stamp or crush others
· Having strong character and striving to do what’s right
· Knowing self-worth is measured from the inside out
· Living life with dignity, creativity, passion and dedication towards goals
· Pursuing victory with honour and integrity making each day their own masterpiece
Vera Kiryukova: All programs are structured around desired results and implementation. What’s the desired result of Young Elephant Character Coaching?
Desmond Denton: The desire is to develop the leaders of tomorrow with a dramatic and positive impact on society as a whole. It is about developing character in individuals, who can use their gift and character to improve and transform their world. We are currently experiencing tremendous growth in Character First Africa and realize it is time to further extend the capacity.
Character First is operating internationally and have been brought into organisations such as George Hospital, SABCO Coca Cola, Water and Sanitation, various schools and countries such as South Africa, Namibia, Ghana, Malawi, Nigeria and Uganda.
Stephan Covey illustrates the need for character clearly: “I’m convinced that 90% of failures in life are character failures, not ability failures.” —Stephen Covey,
Vera Kiryukova: In the beginning you mentioned this camp took place at the Back to Basics campsite. Tell me more about the campsite.
Desmond Denton: Back to Basics is a campsite based in the mysterious forestry pine of Grabouw. It’s facilities offers various trails, nature experiences and other relevant activities which we find to be a great further aid to the coaching. The common interest in developing the young potential has led to collaboration on a series of Character interventions. The various interventions includes: Steorra, Ultimate Gift, Techne, Endurer and other programs offering an adventurous, experimental and learning dimension. We are excited to present these quality programs and coaching to inspire a generation of Young Character Elephants.
Vera Kiryukova: Do you have any final message to youth leaders, teachers or other people involved in youth in some way.
Desmond Denton: You play a key role in the shaping of tomorrow. Keep on making significant deposits in young people’s lives. Show the character way and inspire a generation to lead in it. We would like to encourage you to make use of this opportunity to empower your youth group, school or church to benefit from the Young Elephant Character program.
pecial thanks and appreciation to the proud sponsor who invested in developing the next generation of Character Leaders: De Doorn Cellar made this coaching process possible.
A further mention goes to Renaldo van Hoogstraten from Skills for U for his role in the coaching program. This camp has been hosted at the Back to Basics campsite.
For more information contact us at
+27 83 5501 858
More photos of the camp can be viewed at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Character-Young-Elephants/116961098383445?sk=photos