CITW Youth Environmental Stewardship (YES) camp, Namibia


This camp was specially conducted for 15 secondary school learners. We had 13 CITW scholarship students and 2 from Children Life Change Centre.

The Youth Environmental Stewardship (YES) programme in Namibia changed its approach this year by focusing more on career exposure and life lessons through engaging the students with professionals from various industries. Fun activities and games were reduced and fun ways to learn were adopted. We achieved this by having the group spend three nights at Greiters conference centre and two full days in Windhoek networking with individuals from various industries, compared to only an afternoon city tour previously.

Out of the 15 scholarship beneficiaries, only 2 did not arrive and that spot we filled with two children from a centre in Windhoek. Out of the 15, 11 have been to camp before as campers and 4 came for the first time. The schools involved were Elias-Amxab Combined school in Sesfontein (1 learner), Cornelius Goreseb in Khorixas (1 learner), Okaukuejo Combined School in Etosha (3 learners), Outjo Secondary School (1 learner), Namibian College of Open Learning (1 learner), Paresis Secondary school in Otjiwarongo (1 leaner), Da Palm Secondary School in Otjimbingwe (1 learner), Braunfels Agricultural High School (4 learners) and Tobias Hainyeko Projects (2 learners).

We had a group of 15 learners participating and 6 staff including a chef and paramedic. The group we had on this camp will be the first students we use to mentor Eco-Club members in Namibia so the emphasis was on life coaching and career exposure to groom them into mentorship roles. The different speakers touched on the importance of access to a support system during critical stages of school and career development, enhancement of academic and career development plans, exposure to diverse perspectives and experiences. They also emphasised the importance of evaluating skill gaps before leaving school and most importantly self-actualization.

Career days

The two first days were spent in Windhoek.  The beneficiaries spent the first morning with auditors and Chartered Accountants from PWC. One can’t express how rewarding it was to watch them engage with the professionals.

PWC through their Mentoring Connections Program availed professionals that offered our group invaluable expertise on their chosen careers, the challenges thereof and their personal experiences throughout high school to where they are now.

From PWC the group returned to our office and met up with Rachel an environmentalist from the Giraffe Conservation Foundation who dealt with the importance of nature being in balance and the benefits thereof. The foundation operates the Khomas Environmental Education Programme (KEEP) which is a field-based environmental education programme that allows young people to reconnect with nature.  KEEP seeks to build a culture of environmental awareness, social responsibility and action in Namibia. Additionally, it hopes to equip our future leaders with the skills to live more sustainably and ultimately to improve their living conditions.  KEEP aims to inspire young people to care for their environment by helping them better understand the impacts their lifestyle has on the fragile ecosystems around them.

After a short break, the group met a prominent Human Rights Lawyer and activist, Mr Norman Tjombe.  He covered the range of professions in the legal field, importance of the rule of law and how important self-discipline is to the profession. He urged the importance of minors knowing their rights and where to go for help should they need it.

After lunch they met up with Antony Swartz our Logistics Manager at the Wilderness Safaris head office in Windhoek and he covered logistics, procurement and its significance to the success of every profession.

After Anthony the group met David Tjivava, who is one of our CITW board members, who focused mainly on the challenges of teenage years, puberty stage, drug/alcohol abuse and peer pressure. They participated very well and there was a lot of excitement during the presentation.

The group then met Mr Basson van Rooyen from Sanlam who is a Chartered Accountant and Investment Manager and he shared expertise about the Accounting and Investment industry.

That concluded the first day in Windhoek and the second day we started with the University of Namibia. There they met the Management Leadership Talent Search (MALTAS) which is a premier student club that caters for those young students who do not only excel in their academic career, but also in other spheres of their lives, such as community work.  MALTAS is about continuously improving the lives of young students and instilling a strong sense of discipline and leadership in them. The brain power among the MALTAS group was well displayed through discussions and analysis on unemployment, reasons for the low rate of girls at tertiary level, faculties at the institution, types of skill shortages in Namibia and institutions that provide financial assistance in different careers.

The National Commission on Research, Science and Technology was up next. Government has long recognized the importance of Research, Science and Technology as an engine of economic growth and development, hence the enactment of the Research Science and Technology Act, 2004 (Act no 23 of 2004), with an objective to ensure the co-ordination, monitoring and supervision of research, science and technology in Namibia among other objectives. We were honoured to be in the presence of five representatives from the commission in the field of geo-science, biotechnology, spatial science among others.

The group later met up with Elfrieda from Wilderness Air and learned a lot about the aviation industry.

Elfrieda encouraged ladies to join the profession and informed them that they can always use Wilderness for guidance. After lunch we went to museums and places of interest including the State House. The first stop was parliament gardens were Ketji covered the history on the building, monuments around it and nearby landmarks such as the Christuskirche.

The next stop was the Ministry of Mines and Energy for National Earth Science Museum. It helped our campers discover geoscience through an extensive display of world-class Namibian minerals and rocks and superb Namibian fossil collections with highlights on Namibian mines and geoscience as an interesting and relevant part of their lives. The museum also serves as a repository of Namibia’s minerals, rocks, meteorites and fossils. They learned about Namibia’s geological history, the different mines, diamonds, hydrocarbon gas, meteorites, palaeontology and career opportunities in the industry from Helke who is responsible for the museum.

Each one got a pamphlet on careers in mining and energy along with an in depth explanation of all the technical terms. The day ended with a discussion on what each of them found interesting and why. Jack, Ketji and I filled them in on additional questions and thanked them for being receptive and engaging with all the professionals they met over the two busy days in Windhoek.

The desert and the dunes

Early morning on the 29 April we proceeded down south and had three nights at Kulala Adventure Camp. The first day we covered the big daddy challenge, Sesriem Canyon and all aspects of desert guiding. Campers prepared to climb one of Africa’s tallest accessible dunes, Big Daddy. The dune challenge serves as an important life lesson with comparisons to the struggle to achieve good grades while going up the dune and the victory once at the peak as the view is so much better on top, which we associate with a better life after studying. The final message is never to give up although faced with life challenges as everyone of us goes through different hardships.

At the end of the first day down south, the evening was spent around the camp fire discussing the impact that cultural tourism has on communities and their way of life. The campers had some interesting contributions to the topic.  Some that really stood out were how the sweets and other goodies that guests bring change the expectations of children in the village to an extent that most prefer to go and play by the side of the road waiting for more guests and sweets, which is a form of begging that guests instigate.  Also that photographers are too demanding with their expectations during their photo sessions and that sometimes they order everyone around for too long. They also mentioned that their communities enjoy seeing white people, how small the ladies are and smelling their nice perfumes as well as eating different food. The next day we made a stop at Little Kulala to meet Ms Andrea Bolte, a CITW sponsor.

We then proceeded to Naukluft mountain springs and completed a 3km walk with Agnes, Ketji and Jack offering information on flora, fauna, history and geology. The students shared medicinal uses of different plants and we all learned from one another.

Back at camp the day ended with life skills, HIV/AIDS, child parenting and astronomy sessions.

The coast

The next morning we departed for the coast.

In Walvis Bay, the campers explored the mighty Atlantic Ocean for about three hours with Catamaran charters. Campers are taught about marine life and get a chance to see the oyster farms and other interesting educational activities, such as seals and birds. The Catamaran guide was very informative and had an intensive session that covered the different lighthouses, sea miles belonging to Namibia, fishing industry, cold Benguela current and why our ocean is so rich.

Oysters, Oil rig, fishing vessels and birds were among the highlights for the group during a morning at sea. We then returned to Lagoon Chalets were Doris our chef had a delicious lunch waiting. After nourishing themselves the campers had a little snooze before driving to Swakopmond for the Snake Park. This park houses an array of serpentine sorts.

The owner knows everything you’d ever want to know – or not know – about snakes, scorpions, spiders and other widely misunderstood creatures and the group was impressed with how at ease he was with all sorts of snakes especially the black mamba that most campers kept their eyes on in silence. Once the mamba was placed away, excitement returned among the group and they enjoyed touching the pythons and spending time with them as well as the other creatures.

The camp ended at the coast with a ceremony on the last night where all mentors and campers reflected on the trip, had a graduation ceremony and finally Agnes dealt with each individual on their qualities, what they needed to work on in terms of new habits she observed that the campers can improve on and a motivational session to conclude.


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