Shona Erasmus, our Nedbank Tour de Tuli Hospitality Coordinator, attended a CITW Camp in December. The work Shona does each year to organise the Tour, is what makes this event such a success. And a successful Nedbank Tour de Tuli, means that we are able to touch more lives through our programme. Only fitting then, that Shona went along to experience a CITW camp and see for herself how her hard work contributes to our programme.
Read Shona’s wonderful report on her camp experience below – the warmth, support and love is just pouring out of it! And the beautiful photos are Shona’s too.
It is often we are put into situations where we are not familiar with the people around us. Whether they are strangers, colleagues, acquaintances or friends of friends, we meet people, not knowing them as a person or their background. We make assumptions and judgement based on how people act or present themselves. But something as simple as a short conversation or spending a few minutes with them, gives you a little more insight into understanding who this person is and allows you to appreciate who they are.
I was fortunate enough to join one of the CITW Annual Camps that took place at Jacana Camp in Botswana in December 2018. It was a camp to teach the children about the environment, conservation and sustainability, but I was also eager to learn about each individual, their background, their passions and their culture. Meeting a group of people for the first time can be intimidating and I’m sure the anticipation showed on my face, as much as it did on the children’s. The 16 young faces anxious for what the next four days held, completely unaware of the experiences that lay ahead.
The week started with a flight in a Cessna Caravan, an experience on its own. The dull roar of the engines overshadowed by the giggles and screeches of the children, every time the plane hopped between air pockets. Excitement and nerves written all over their faces, they enjoyed every second. The giggles quickly turned to silence. From our arrival, meeting our guides and the short drive to camp, there was not a whisper to be heard.
Our arrival in camp was met with singing, clapping and dancing from staff and other mentors. The enthusiasm from the team was infectious and little smiles slowly crept across a few of the children’s faces.
Throughout the four days, we got to know each other; from team building exercises, to learning about conservation, sustainability, ecosystems, food webs, wildlife and birds. Initially there were very few smiles to be shared from the children, but as the week continued, their smiles grew, their eyes opened and their chins raised. Being based in Johannesburg, we interact with children who have been given the platform to express themselves, who are not afraid to share their opinion and who are generally confident. I found myself comparing the shy, respectful children on camp to the assertive kids of the city. The children from Botswana, are the complete opposite. Their respect shines through at every turn, only speaking when spoken to, with a willingness to help, an eagerness to learn and follow instructions. I learnt that in the rural communities, discipline and respect is a way of life. I learnt that family situations are reflected in the personality and actions of each child. Children are given responsibilities at an early age, teaching them about life, survival and appreciation.
Throughout the week, personalities started shining through. Impressions were made on us mentors, from the small signs of leadership in the small groups and team work, to the drawing skills, and willingness to learn about animals and birds. We were able to give the children a platform to express themselves and have a ton of fun whilst learning. I got to understand many aspects of who these children were, their personalities and their backgrounds. It opened my eyes to a much bigger picture involving the children. They have been given an opportunity to be seen, acknowledged, appreciated and understood.