Thirty students from five schools in Livingstone, together with their Eco-Mentors, attended Wilderness Safaris’ Toka Leya Camp last weekend for an annual camp. On arrival, each child received a pack containing stationery, a t-shirt, and a hat for their stay. Volunteers acted out camp rules and the students had to guess what rule it was. This provided a fun way to convey the rules, while also breaking the ice between students.
Once settled in, the first activity was building a tippy tap and learning how to use it. These are hand washing devices that need only a few sticks, a 5-litre container, string, and a piece of soap. They allow for hands-free, and therefore hygienic hand-washing, as pressing on a stick with one’s foot tilts the container to let water flow out. Tippy taps are also good for water conservation – something crucial in areas such as these where communities do not have piped water and rely on boreholes. The importance of hygiene and water conservation was emphasised to students, and they now have the skills to set up tippy taps in their own homes.
Students were divided into teams, and as the theme of the camp was mammals, teams were appropriately named Baboon, Wild Dog, Giraffe, and Hippopotamus. Having been given a brief lesson on their team name animal, teams came up with a war cry. Team building and problem-solving activities were carried out for the afternoon. These included ‘sinking ship’, ‘crocodile crossing’, ‘mine field’, and ‘spider web’. Carried out on rotation, these activities got children to think and work together based on the physical (having to cross through a ‘spider’s web’ made of rope without getting stuck) or hypothetical (helping each other cross the river as their boat was sinking) situation that they were in. After dinner, campers sat around the camp fire for storytelling. Students were also encouraged to write their fears down on a piece of paper. They then threw these into the fire, ‘burning’ their fears and removing them for a good night’s sleep.
The next morning, energising activities got students ready for the day. After breakfast, the group was split in half, with two teams going on a game drive and two going on a boat cruise to learn more about the animals, birds, and trees around them. While students who attended the camp live on the fringe of the national park, most will never have the opportunity to visit. Thus, the camp provides a chance for students to experience these areas and relate what they see to what they learn about in class. For the afternoon activities, campers took part in more team building and problem-solving games before making their mascots. After dinner, the students came together for a movie night where they watched ‘A Bug’s Life’ which was well received.
On the final morning, campers were given a lesson on the importance of conserving the environment, bringing together all that they had learned over the last two days. They then took a pledge to look after the environment and each student received a blue bangle as a symbol of their promise, as well as a knitted teddy bear. After thank yous and goodbyes, and with a packed lunch for the road, the campers boarded the buses for their journey home.