By Boyd Matson
“Trust me on this one kids, spitting impala poop is really an honest to goodness game in South Africa.” As might be expected I had a little trouble at first trying to convince the 15 kids with me that putting an impala dung pellet in their mouth would be fun, but eventually I got them all to try it. The verdict on the fun factor is still out. The kids, between the ages of nine & fifteen, were winners of the National Geographic for Kids magazine “Hands On Explorer Challenge.’ They were competiting with thousands of kids across the country who wrote essays about how they explore in their own backyard. The winnners and one parent each got to go an trip with National Geographic. This particular year the we took the kids to South Africa.
The Kids got Nikon cameras as part of their prize, and we brought along one of our Geographic photographers to teach them how to take pictures, and a writer to show them how to keep a journal and write about their experience. My job was to help enhance their experience & encourage them to be even more hands on in their exploring. Neither they nor their parents could have imagined that would include poop spitting.
The South African game is called Bokdrol Spoek which loosely means, “spitting buck droppings.” It’s usually played with either impala or kudu dung. The traditional competition requires dropping the poop pellet in a shot glass filled with some type of alcohol, downing the shot, catching the pellet in your teeth, and then seeing how far you can spit it. The roll is included in the official distance. I decided we could skip the drinking portion for the kids. I mean you have to draw the line somewhere with nine to fifteen year olds.
This video has the highlites of our competition. I’m posting the story now because I talk about things to do with poop, from research to games, on my radio show National Geographic Weekend this week and on the NG Weekend podcast. Also last weekend we had some friends over for a backyard safari party, and at the end of the evening I produced a bag of impala poop collected on my last trip to East Africa. Despite the consumption of alcohol at this event, the adults were somewhat more reluctant than the kids to believe poop spitting was really a game. Finally I got some of the people to try it, but I not sure they ever believed it’s a competiton with an official world championship.