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Kid's Weekend 2006

In early December, Rotary Club of Koh Samui, ROCKS, played again host to 30 children from the Mercy Centre in Bangkok. This was the third year that ROCKS had welcomed a party of children from the Mercy Centre, as the event is now firmly embedded in the club’s calendar.
The children, aged between 8 and 13 traveled to Koh Samui by chartered coach and ferry, arriving at Donsak to be met by immediate Past President Paul Watson and his predecessor, Paul Hawkins, and escorted to the ferry after a welcome breakfast. As in the previous years, generous sponsors, both within and outside the club, opened their hearts and wallets for these delightful children. Arriving in Nathon, the coach took the children to the Weekender Resort in Lamai, where MD Mikey welcomed the children, and allocated them their rooms. Within minutes of checking in, the lively youngsters had changed and were jumping into the swimming pool! In between their shrieks of joy, there was an opportunity to experience scuba for the first time in their young lives, courtesy of ROCKS member, Marion Siepe of Divers in Paradise, joined by Captain Caveman. Later the children were enticed out by promises of a tasty barbeque, prepared by ROCKS member Nigel Mills of Nigel’s BBQ. After that, they discovered that beach games had been laid out for them, courtesy of Tony Clark, husband of Rotarian and event organizer, Lorraine Clark. There was much hilarity as relay teams attempted an obstacle course, requiring them to ‘ride’ a blowup whale while wearing fins, and to undergo several other lighthearted ordeals, spurred on by shrieks of encouragement form the spectators!

Later that evening, a fleet of Rotary volunteer drivers transported the children to Chaweng and Tropical Murphys, where Rotarian Paul Watson was waiting to greet them. The Restaurant provided the children with a super Pizza supper, much to their delight. After supper, the children delighted the watching Rotarians with a display of dancing, dressed in beautiful costumes. Finally, weary but happy, the children returned to Weekender for a well needed sleep.

On Saturday morning, after consuming a gargantuan breakfast, the children once again flung themselves in the hotel swimming pool with Rotarians joining in the fun and getting soaked for their pains. Reluctantly coaxed out of the pool, they were taken to the Bird and Tiger Zoo, to be greeted by the owner, Khun Aree. They wandered delightedly among the bird and animal cages, and met some of the Zoo’s residents, a delightful hornbill, and a snuggly otter who seemed to purr like a cat. Khun Aree treated them all to lunch and then entertained them to a fascinating display of avian aerobatics, followed by the Zoo’s big cats. Back at Weekender Resort, Saturday was rounded off by a Christmas Party. Though Christmas is not a Thai festival, the children were happy to enter into the spirit of the occasion, and all appeared with ‘Santa hats’. After supper and games such ‘crocodile’ and ‘egg and spoon’ races, the children were alerted to the arrival of Santa Claus and his ‘helper’. Gifts were dispensed to the wide eyed children, but also included some for Khun Ratana and Father Joe from the Mercy Centre, and a ‘thank you’ gift for Mikey of Weekender who is always so welcoming to this annual party! Rotarians’ children were also among those receiving gifts from a perspiring Santa.

The third and last day of the visit found the children once again in the pool immediately after breakfast, being joined by some ROCKS members who didn’t seem to mind being semi drowned for their pains. They almost had to be dragged out to go and pack ahead of their departure. A short coach drive found them in Chaweng, where Rotarian Andy Muller hosted lunch at Chez Andy.

But after lunch, Rotarians and children alike knew that it was time to ‘say goodbye’. This moment was hard to bear for Rotarians who had spent so much time with the children and were heartbroken to see them go. Likewise the children bade their newfound friends a tearful farewell. But Rotarians acknowledge that this event is a welcome break from lives spent in the concrete jungle of Klong Toey, Bangkok.

ROCKS acknowledge unstinting support from their individual members, and organisations such as The Bird and Tiger Zoo, Samui Culinary Circle, Sisters on Samui and others, who generously sponsored the weekend and gave the children such wonderful memories to take back with them.

Already ROCKS are busy planning next year’s trip, confident in the knowledge that we can make a difference in these wonderful youngsters’ lives!