Children in the Wilderness (CITW) annually hosts an Eco-Club Camp for children from diverse rural schools at Wilderness Safaris’ Davisons Camp in Zimbabwe. This camp is one of the most prolific wildlife areas in Hwange National Park, which makes for exciting game viewing for the children. December 2017’s Camp included 32 children and 5 accompanying teachers from Ziga, Ngamo, Kapane, Jakalasi and Mpindo Primary schools. The beautiful photos in the album below show just a few highlights of this wonderful camp.
CITW Eco-Club Camps combine leadership skills, environmental education and recreation, all in a unique and safe wilderness environment, where nature is both the teacher and the healer. The programme aims at increasing the children’s understanding and appreciation of the diversity of natural environments, as well as to encourage children by demonstrating the opportunities that exist for them outside of their villages. The programme is designed to increase self-esteem, teach new skills and impart knowledge to the children.
Upon arrival each child, together with their teachers, were given a name tag and a kit bag with a variety of toiletry and stationery items, as well as brightly coloured branded t-shirts and caps. The children were then divided into groups and shown to the rooms that would be ‘home’ for the next 4 days.
This years theme for the camp was Birds. As such, the children were divided into four teams: The Lilac Breasted Rollers, The Kori Bustards, The Ostriches and The Southern Ground Hornbills – all birds which are very common in Hwange. There was much excitement as the teams came up with creative war cries and designed posters using what they could find in the natural environment.
Each team worked through a variety of team building activities, games and bird stations which aimed to increase the children’s understanding and appreciation of the diversity of natural environments. It also exposes the children to various job opportunities in the lodge industry. The children spent time with housekeeping making beds in guest rooms, with the kitchen staff learning to bake, and learning how to change a tyre with the workshop staff.
Every morning, the children participated in morning energisers which include simple exercises or fun games which help to warm everyone up in preparation for an exciting day. Teams enjoyed educational game drives with their expert guides from Davisons Camp and their Eco-Mentors. They learnt about birds, insects and animals, and how each part of the eco-system is dependent on the next. Each game drive also touches on elements of conservation, and the importance of protecting Hwange’s beautiful diversity,
Children were awarded Super Camper badges throughout camp. Eco-Mentor are tasked with looking out for the special attributes and qualities of each child – from kindness, to showing a particular interest in birds, each child receives this special award.
Our evening activites included a big bonfire on the first night of camp where the children were encouraged to ‘burn their fears’ by writing them on a slip of paper and throwing it in the fire. On the second night the campers were treated to a entertaining and educative movie titled “Paddington”. The movie brought out the values that were taught to the students which include respect and opportunity amongst other as well as lessons on conservation. On the third night, a quiz was held during the day to test the children on what they had learnt during their stay in Camp and the team The Lilac Breasted Rollers emerged as the winners. Students and Eco-Mentors took a “pledge” to do their best in protecting the environment and animals. Everyone received a wristband to be worn as a constant reminder of the pledge made.
They were bright smiles all around as children cuddled the Mother Bear teddy gifts which added to the list of new friends they had made during camp. The Davisons staff danced to the drum beat for the children with the chef playing the “guitar”.
On the morning of Day 4, as everyone says quick goodbyes and our Eco-Club campers of 2017 depart, their hearts are filled with joy and determination to go back and make a difference in their home and school communities. Much appreciation is extended to Wilderness Safaris and their wonderful staff for hosting another successful CITW Camp.
“The annual camp hosted by CITW helped the pupils to learn about conservation of nature and how best they can protect the animals from being endangered’” SAMUKELISO TSHUMA – ECO-MENTOR FROM KAPANE PRIMARY SCHOOL
All the beautiful photographs by Caroline Culbert