Annual Eco-Club Camp at Camp Hwange, Zimbabwe

Read the report of our latest Annual Eco-Club Camp in Zimbabwe, written by a volunteer who attended the camp as an Eco-Mentor. This camp was sponsored by Camp Hwange and Makila (French agents):  

Camp Hwange is a safari Camp situated in the Shumba area of Hwange National Park. For the past three years, Children in the Wilderness (CITW) has been hosted by Camp Hwange, where we have run our  Eco-Club Camps for children from the rural schools with which we work around the Hwange region. This years camp saw 21 children from St Mary’s Primary School attend the camp.

Children, Camp staff and CITW Eco-Mentors were all eager to begin this adventure, and the drive from Sinamatella to the camp was already full of discovery and excitement as the children spotted giraffes, elephants and vultures.

After settling into their rooms, the children were divided into four teams anmed after common birds found in the area – we had the Lilac Breasted Rollers, The Ostriches, The Ground Hornbills and The Kori Bustards. The theme for the camp was Birds, so it was important that each team learnt about their team mascots. Each team was lead by a guide and an Eco-Mentor who helped the children put a war-cry together on their team bird.

On the first afternoon, children had the opportunity to discover different careers available in a camp setting, and learnt about eco-tourism. All the staff were involved, explaining their roles at camp and how each one plays a role in creating a sustainable vision of tourism. There were four stations which the children visited – making beds with housekeeping, setting tables in the main area with the front of house team, making breadrolls in the kitchen and learnt how to change a tyre with the mechanics in camp. The children were extremely curious and particularly enjoyed their time in the kitchen and with the machanics. The children had to remember new vocabulary from each station in order to prepare for the final night’s quiz.  After dinner we enjoyed a beautiful camp fire, and headed back to the tents for Ten Talks –  a perfect end to the day, to unwind and reflect on the day’s learnings.

Heard during Tent Talks :

I will dream about making bread.” Beaullar

I would like to become an air engineer.” Trinity

The children were wide-awake at 5h30 and the day begins with songs and work-out. The game drive was a unique experience and the children were taking notes and participating actively through their questions. The main focus was on birds, but the children were keen to expand their knowledge about wildlife and had the chance to observe different mammals, habitats and plants. Children learnt about different types of trees, their uses, the interdependence between animals and plant species and the ecosystem as a whole.

Besides this intensive learning, energizing activities centred on respect, team building, self-confidence and sharing the joy of being together in the middle of the bush, take place throughout the days at camp.

With the theme for the camp being birds, the guides ran lessons on birds. They learnt about the beaks, feet and the role of birds in the ecosystem. Each team went in search of insects with special equipment – bug boxes and magnifying glasses. It was a great opportunity to link theory and practice in learning.

As the night came with rain, we enjoyed a warm moment watching a movie and the laughs of the children spread through the bush.

The children had the chance to get creative, and each team collected natural material to make their own original team mascot! The four birds were created out of sand, soil, stones, leaves and grass, and were a wonderful way to build team spirit.

Last but not least, the always hotly contented quiz ! There was a competition between the four teams to apply all the knowledge gained during the camp, about birds, animals and nature but also about the careers they learnt about, as well as some general questions about Zimbabwe! Teams had to discuss their answers and decide on the most appropriate answer. Camp ended on a high, with very happy children and Mentors, and with much learning taking place.

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