CITW Botswana Annual Camp at Baobab 1

Every year Okavango Wilderness Safaris closes a camp in Botswana for a few days to host a Children in the Wilderness (CITW) year-end camp. These camps comprise a three-day conservation experience aimed at educating, inspiring and creating leaders who will hopefully be inspired to become the future custodians of Botswana’s pristine wild areas.

This year’s CITW annual camp hosted 10 partner schools:

  • Seronga Primary School (Panhandle-NG 12)
  • Gunotsoga Primary School (Panhandle-NG12)
  • Beetsha Primary School (Panhandle-NG 12)
  • Gudigwa Primary School (Panhandle-NG 12)
  • Tubu Primary School (NG 8)
  • Habu Primary School (NG 8)
  • Shashe Primary School (Maun)
  • Sankoyo Primary School (NG34)
  • Parakarungu Primary School (Chobe)
  • Tshwaragano Primary School (Gaborone)

It has been two years now that CITW Botswana has run its annual camps, after the enforced break caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. This year CITW hosted its annual camp at Baobab 1 Camp in Kasane (Chobe Region).

Baobab1 Camp hosted 40 campers, 10 teachers, 10 mentors and 3 Regional Environmental Co-ordinators from the Ministry of Basic Education & Skills Development (Chobe Region – Kasane, North-West Region – Maun, South-East Region – Gaborone), Mr Kesotlegile Ramogapedi (General Nurse and CITW ex-camper) and Mr Bonolo Kangongo from the Botswana University of Pennsylvania Partnership as Project Co-ordinator. Baobab Camp had 25 staff to host the children.

The camp ran from 30 November until 08 December 2023, with the Eco-Mentors arriving on 30 November, the first group of children arriving on 1 December and out on the 4th, and the second group coming in on the 4th and out on the 7th. The mentors checked out on 8 December 2023.

The first group (Okavango Community Trust Schools from Seronga, Gunotsoga, Beetsha and Gudigwa) flew from Seronga Airstrip to Kasane International Airport on 1 December 2023. Wilderness guest buses transported the 16 children and 4 teachers from the airport and drove through Chobe National Park to Wilderness Baobab 1 Camp. The other four children and their teacher drove from Parakarungu Primary School to Baobab 1 Camp, with the assistance of the Chobe District Council, to join the OCT group (Okavango Community Trust Schools). The Parakarungu group was accompanied by the Regional Environmental Co-ordinator from the Chobe Region – Mr Bafentse Peter.

The second group of 20 children from Sankoyo, Tubu, Habu, Shashe and Tshwaragano, flew from Maun International Airport to Kasane International Airport accompanied by five teachers and two representatives from the Ministry of Basic Education & Skills Development (Ms Mosimi, Regional Environmental Co-ordinator from South East – Gaborone, Ms Morolong, Public Relations Officer – North-West Region – Maun). The group was also transported from the international airport through Chobe National Camp to Wilderness Baobab 1 Camp by Wilderness’ guest bus.

Tshwaragano Primary School is a CITW partner school that was founded in Gaborone in 2017. They felt very privileged to be part of the CITW annual camp for the first time. The children, their teacher and the representative from the Education Department were excited and happy to be in camp, learning new things in a different environment.

The camp staff were so happy to welcome the children, teachers and guests into the camp, and the children felt at home and couldn’t stop talking about the flight and the beauty of the camp.

Everything went well and the programme of activities was rescheduled according to the weather. We experienced high temperatures for both camps, and the games and lessons that were planned for outdoors were replaced by ones that the children were able to play in the shade. As a norm, we encourage both children and the mentors to drink lots of water and wear hats.

The main objectives of the camp were to encourage the children to learn in a fun way, with support from digital learning and information communication technology (ICT), about the importance of ecosystems and team-building. We taught them about:

  • Delta talk: the children do not have much knowledge about their beautiful surroundings and at the end they were able to understand the formation and importance of the Okavango Delta.
  • Mammals, food chain, food web: to improve the children’s science knowledge and awareness of how animals depend on each other (to discourage poaching).
  • Bird adaptations, flight stations, different birds’ feet, favourite birds: so that children can gain knowledge about birds from an early age, since birds and other wildlife attract tourists to our country.
  • Game drives: Most of the children in Botswana do not know about the many wildlife species we have in our country, so we take them on game drives for the guides to teach and show them some of the different animal, bird and tree species in Botswana, and their importance.
  • 4Rs (Respect, Recycling, Re-use and Reduce): children need to know that Botswana is running out of landfill space, and it is important to save the environment from deterioration. Children brought litter from their schools and were able to do 4Rs projects using the waste.
  • Sports: the children had time to play football and traditional games. CITW realises that many of the children at home and at school do not have the opportunity to learn different games, which can help them avoid bad behaviour, as they can be fully occupied with games that will teach them about the importance of teamwork and supporting each other.
  • Culture: teaching and demonstrating about the way we live in our country.
  • Children’s rights:  Mr Bonolo Kangongo, Project Co-ordinator from the Botswana University of Pennsylvania Partnership was invited to attend the CITW annual camp at Seba in 2018 to do a presentation about children’s rights. He has been very interested in our programme since his first visit, and has been keen to assist us every year by volunteering to be a mentor. During his stay in camp, he did another presentation/discussion with the children about their rights, and the children were extremely interested in this topic.
  • Personal hygiene: Mr Kesotlegile Ramogapedi (General Nurse and CITW ex-camper) is always keen to give back to the programme and volunteers to present to the children on general good health, and to attend to any emergency or health-related matters during the camp.

Both children and teachers were happy to be hosted at Baobab Camp, and at the end, the Ministry of Basic Education & Skills Development representatives appreciated Wilderness and CITW for our amazing programme, mentioning that this kind of unity can take our children far with their future.

Children in the Wilderness Botswana would like to extend our gratitude to all who took part on this annual camp and adding tremendous value to the topics being taught. Special gratitude is conveyed to the FNBB Foundation for their support; also the amazing Wilderness Baobab 1 staff for being exceptional in their service, Wilderness Botswana for availing Baobab 1 Camp to CITW, and Wilderness Air Botswana for bringing smiles to our campers by flying them into and out of the camp with love.

We also extend our thanks to the 10 schools’ management for liaising between the parents and the CITW team for the camp preparations, the Ministry of Basic Education & Skills Development – Chobe, North-West and South-East, for allowing children and teachers to attend the camp, as well as the Chobe Council for transporting the campers and teachers from Parakarungu to Baobab 1 Camp.

As always a big thanks to the Mother Bear Project for giving our campers teddy bears at the end of the camp. Lastly, we are grateful to the parents of the campers for trusting us, and allowing us to take their children on this CITW camp.

Compiled By Gaba Modirapula, CITW Botswana Administrator

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