CITW Children’s Camp held at Camp Hwange, Sinamatella, Zimbabwe, March 2015

Camp Hwange is situated in the Shumba area of Hwange National Park and is run by David Carson, a well-known Zimbabwe Professional Guide. Children In The Wilderness have worked with the owners to successfully host a CITW Eco-Club Camp for children from rural schools in the area each year for the past three years.  This year’s Camp included 24 children and two accompanying teachers from St Mary’s Primary School in Lukosi and Sinamatella National Park Primary School.

Children In The Wilderness Eco-Club Annual Camps combine leadership skills, environmental education and recreation, all in a unique and safe wilderness environment. The programme aims at increasing the children’s understanding and appreciation of the diversity of natural environments, as well as to encourage them by demonstrating the opportunities that exist for them. The programme is designed to increase self-esteem, teach new skills and impart knowledge to the children.

Everyone was so excited to arrive in Camp, where they were met by the Camp Managers, Julian Brookstein, Ashley Rimmer and various members of staff including Safari Guides and CITW Eco-Mentors. Each child is each given a name tag and a beautiful gift bag which is filled with a variety of toiletry and stationery items as well as brightly coloured branded t.shirts and caps. The children were then divided into groups and shown to the rooms that would become ‘home’ for the next 3 day period and once everyone had settled in, they were encouraged to participate in “ice-breakers” – games that give everyone an opportunity to get to know one another a little better.

At the beginning of each camp, the children are taught basic Camp Rules before being divided into three separate teams; this years teams included “The Lilac Breasted Rollers”, “The Dung Beetles” and “The Tshongololos” ~ there was much excitement as the teams creatively designed posters and war cries. During the course of these three day camps, each team works through a variety of team building activites and games which are aimed at being both fun and eduational, as well as at increasing the children’s understanding and appreciation of the diversity of natural environments, and encouraging them by demonstrating the opportunities that exist (learning skills such as how to make-up a bed in guest rooms, or working with the kitchen staff and learning to bake, or learning how to change a tyre with the workshop staff). Each day, the children participate in “morning energizers” which include simple exercises and yoga, or fun games such as “Impala Cheetah” which helps warm everyone up in preparation for an exciting day in Hwange National Park. Teams enjoy educational game drives with their Guide and Eco-Mentor where they learn about birds and insects and how they fit into the circle of life before returning to camp for structured lessons based their day’s activities.

The days in camp are packed full of activity but each evening after dinner, the tired campers enjoy warming themselves around the large camp bonfire while they listen to stories told by their adult Eco-mentors. On the final evening, a fun quiz is held to test the children on what they have learned during their stay in Camp, after which each child is presented with an attendance certificate; Super Leader awards are given out to children who display particular leadership strengths during the camp and every child is made to feel special with Super Camper awards badges.

I enjoyed playing netball, learning and seeing animals that I didn’t know, my lasting memory during the camp is the dessert I ate (apple crumble), visiting the National Park, seeing Vultures, sparrows, and baking bread”- Linda Sibanda, St Mary’s Primary

Saying goodbye is always hard, but absolutely everyone leaves with a great sence of pride over all that has been accomplished and celebrates the new friendships they have formed. Grateful thanks are extended to Camp Hwange and their team for hosting yet another successful childrens camp with Children In The Wilderness.

I enjoyed the game drive, I will always remember animals like giraffe, impala, and elephants, and baking bread in the camp”- Curly Mpala, St Mary’s primary