Every year Wilderness closes one of its camps in Botswana for a few days in order to host a Children in the Wilderness (CITW) end-of-year camp. These camps are three-day conservation experiences aimed at educating, inspiring and creating leaders who will hopefully become the future custodians of Botswana’s pristine wilderness areas.
This year from 11 – 14 December, CITW Botswana hosted Parakarungu Primary School (Kasane) at Wilderness DumaTau. Parakarungu joined the CITW programme, run at the school in partnership with First National Bank Botswana Foundation (FNBB- Foundation), in 2021. As part of the induction of the Eco-club members and co-ordinators, the annual camp was hosted to roll out the curriculum to them, as well as to expose them to other activities and teaching aids that they might need during their Eco-Club lessons back at their school.
DumaTau hosted 20 campers, four teachers, the head teacher, the Parent Teachers’ Association chairperson, Mr Bafentse Peter, Regional Environmental Co-ordinator (Chobe), Mr Katlego Molete (Public Relations, Ministry of Basic Education – MoBE – Chobe), Mr Kesotlegile Ramogapedi (General Nurse and CITW ex-camper), Mr Bonolo Kangongo from the Botswana-University of Pennsylvania Partnership as Project Co-ordinator, 11 Eco-Mentors, Belda Mosepele from the Botswana University of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and Mr Lesley Kehitile from the MoBE in the North-West District.
The group flew from Kasane to camp on the 11th of December 2022. It was an exciting scene to watch the mixed emotions of the children during their first experience of an aeroplane. The campers left Parakarungu village in the morning and were transported by the Chobe Council to Kasane International Airport for their flight.
Even in camp, the children couldn’t stop talking about the flight and their pilots. They were all excited and met by the happy camp choir, which welcomed them into camp.
Everything went according to plan.
The main objective of the camp was to teach children about:
- The Okavango Delta: the children were brought in contact with their environment. They had a chance to be taught by the guides about the Delta and its formation.
- Mammals and the food chain: to improve children’s knowledge about ecosystems.
- Food web: This is a practical lesson where the children have to make a web together with mentors for the children to gain a better understanding of the topic.
- Bird adaptations, flight stations, birds’ feet, favourite birds: for the children to gain knowledge about birds at an early age, since birds and animals attract tourists to our country.
- 4Rs (Reduce, Re-use, Recycle, and Respect): after the campers watched a video clip of the 4Rs, they were given the opportunity to choose one of the Rs, to make a project or something tangible that represented it best.
- Children’s rights: for children to understand their rights and know the right channels to report to if they feel they are violated.
- Personal hygiene: for good health.
- Game drives: many children in Botswana do not know about the many species we have in the country, so CITW offered game drives to the campers. On the drives the guides taught them about the different animals, birds and tree species in Botswana, and their importance.
- Sports: children had time to play football and traditional games.
The topics were introduced through video clips, after which the children split into groups to continue their lessons.
CITW Botswana would like to extend its gratitude to all who participated on this annual camp, as each added tremendous value to the topics being taught in camp. Special gratitude is directed to FNBB Foundation for its support, the DumaTau staff for being exceptional in their services, Wilderness Botswana for availing DumaTau camp to Children in the Wilderness, Parakarungu Primary School management for liaising between the parents and the CITW team during the camp preparations, the Ministry of Basic Education in Chobe, and the Chobe Council for transporting the campers and teachers from Parakarungu to Kasane International Airport. Lastly, we are grateful to the parents of the campers from Parakarungu for entrusting us with their children.
Report by Kelebogile “Kelly” Baitshoki – CITW Botswana Assistant Administrator