Children in the Wilderness Botswana ran a number of successful camps in 2012. These took place at the end of the year and were hosted at Jacana and Vumbura Plains camps in the Okavango Delta. In this way the annual target of 96 children was reached. The CITW team is now preparing for the 2013 camps in December.
The primary activities of course were the wildlife activities, being game drives, mokoro and walks. In addition, on each daily schedule, the children were given lessons based on the core values of our objective – the 4Cs of Conservation, Culture, Community and Commerce – as we are aiming at creating future responsible conservation ambassadors. Other topics that we dealt with included HIV/AIDS, Culture, Tourism and Friendship, and Conservation and Responsibility – this last focusing on the areas around the villages in three mini-topics: Me and my home, me and my river and me and my wildlife conservation. The main concerns here are poaching, water pollution, veld fires, littering and the effects of all this on our environment. A favourite topic was Delta Day – which looked at the formation of the Okavango Delta, where it comes from and the animals that help in its formation. Children got to understand its importance toward tourism and its benefit to our country and citizens.
Children in the Wilderness Botswana is in its seventh year of conducting Follow-up Programmes, the aim of which is to strengthen the relationship between CITW, the children, the schools and the parents. CITW Botswana runs four Follow-up Programmes a year at each of the village schools in which past CITW camp participants are living. Eco Clubs have been established, which promote culture, tourism and conservation. Follow-up Programmes are also one of the primary tools with which we can measure our camps, as we are able to obtain feedback from teachers and parents on the changes they have seen in the children before and after camp. All feedback so far has been extremely positive. Parents, for example, mentioned that they noticed changes in the children’s behaviour with regard to taking responsibility for their actions, taking care of themselves (in terms of hygiene), as well as smaller siblings, and taking on the role of looking after their homes.
This year we conducted mentor training with the teachers in all the schools that we already engage with for the Children in the Wilderness programme. Following on from that eco-clubs were introduced in all these schools. Partnering with Conservation Science Africa, the eco-club children have been trained in vermiculture, organic vegetable farming and, in some areas, guinea-fowl farming.
Plans for 2014
Mentor training and the introduction of eco-clubs in 2013 has been a fantastic addition to our programme. We are very excited about the progress been made by the eco-clubs and the plan for 2014 is to grow the projects in the communities and continue with all the existing projects in the eco-clubs.