2019 CITW ECO-CAMP AT DAVISON’S, HWANGE NATIONAL PARK

Children in the Wilderness Zambezi held its annual camp for students from the Tsholotsho region, south of Hwange National Park, at Davison’s Camp this past week. The CITW Zambezi team, together with Avias, the manager at Davison’s, and his team, hosted 32 Grade 6 students from Ngamo, Ziga, Kapane, Jakalasi, and Mpindo Primary Schools for a three-night, fun-filled and educational experience.

Arriving at Davison’s, there was much song, dance, and excitement as the students were welcomed to the camp. After introductions, each camper was given a bag of stationery and amenities for their stay. Once settled in, students were divided into four teams: Bees, Wild Dogs, Mopane Trees, and Kori Bustards, reflecting the theme for the camp: biodiversity. The first activity that students got involved with was learning about the different aspects of hospitality within the camp. On a rotation, students learned about bed-making, baking in the kitchen, table setting, and visited the mechanics to learn about the game drive vehicles. This was a popular activity with many of the boys in particular, who were eager and enthusiastic to find out all they could about the vehicles and looking after them.

After dinner, students gathered around the campfire for the ‘burning of fears’. Out of the darkness appeared an ‘elderly man’, symbolising a person of knowledge or traditional healer. Each student was given a piece of paper and had to write down their fears. One by one they were called by the wise man to the fire. Whispering ‘chants’ and words of encouragement, students were instructed to throw their ‘fears’ into the fire – burning them and taking them away.

The second day began early with energisers to get the students awake and ready for the day. After a hearty breakfast, they set off on their first game drive with the guides. Game drives are such a special part of the camp as children do not get the opportunity to see the wildlife that they learn about in school, even though they live on the boundary of Hwange National Park. To see their joy and excitement is truly heart-warming, and they return buzzing, excitedly recounting all that they saw and learned.

Before their second game drive in the afternoon, the campers got involved with teambuilding activities. Sinking Ship, Croc Pit, Spider’s Web, and Mine Field were the four activities selected. Each one focused on a different aspect of teamwork and encouraged students to work together to ensure that they are successful. The second night of camp is movie night, where a relevant film is selected for students to watch. In line with biodiversity, we watched e’Lollipop which was much enjoyed by the students and brought out many giggles.

After a good night’s rest, students rose early again for another full day of activities. After the morning energisers, students set off on another game drive. After lunch, we played a game of ‘biodiversity bingo’ which got the students thinking hard about the animals, birds, insects, and trees that they had learned about. In the afternoon, campers took their pledge to look after the environment, and received their camp participation certificates and Mother Bear teddy bears. The evening culminated with a quiz on all that they had learned, sparking huge competition between the teams. The next morning, after another hearty breakfast and armed with packed lunches for the road, the campers set off with joyous goodbyes.

We would like to say a huge thank you to Avias and his team at Davison’s for looking after us so well. Avias – our Master of Ceremonies – is an amazing role model for the children and keeps the energy levels of the camp at 100%. We would also like to say thank you to the guides: Doug, Mike, Themba, and Kingsley. They are our heroes who make these camps so successful with the joy and energy they exude and the knowledge that they pass on to the students. Having guides as the main mentors on camps is an integral part of the students’ learning and discovery, and we are very fortunate to have such knowledgeable and enthusiastic mentors for our campers. We are already looking forward to our 2020 camp!