Over the South African Youth Day weekend in June, eight children and four teachers from the four primary schools with which we work in Makuleke, spent two nights at Mopani Rest Camp in Kruger National Park (KNP). These children and teachers are involved in the Children in the Wilderness (CITW) Eco-Clubs in their schools. The aim of the trip was to allow the children and teachers to experience Kruger National Park first-hand, as real tourists. Lindy Nieuwenhuizen, a regular CITW and Tour de Tuli volunteer, joined us in the running of this camp programme.
After meeting the children and teachers at their schools, we made our way to Punda Maria and regrouped at the Environmental Centre where everyone had the opportunity to introduce themselves and make new friends. We were joined by two other tourists visiting the centre and this provided an excellent opportunity for the children to meet and interact with other KNP tourists. The children introduced themselves to the tourists and before long, there was much laughter and chatting. By the time we left, everyone was hugging goodbyes.
We had created a KNP Car Bingo game in order to keep children’s attention on the drives and this proved a winner, keeping the children glued to looking out for various animals on their Bingo cards. In true ‘Kruger style’, children had breakfasts at their chalets, picnic lunches at various Park Picnic Sites and/or Day Visitor Centres and dinners were at the Mopani Camp Restaurant. We took walks around the camps each day to give everyone some exercise after long time of spotting game in the vehicles.
Everyone received a CITW long-sleeved t-shirt, a book on mammals of Kruger, some stationery and a Wilderness Safaris Children’s Nature Journal. They also all received a Struik Field Guide as a Bingo ‘prize’.
Everyone had a great time and it is certainly an experience that CITW will host again.
Here’s what the children had to say about their time in Kruger:
- I have learned so much on this fun trip! My favourite was seeing a leopard – Nseketelo (11).
- The food was fantastic delicious – Cathrine Memori (14)
- Yoh I never knew the elephant is so big! – Vukona (12)
- I won the Bingo! – Andile (12)
- I liked to meet the other people (tourists) at Punda Maria – Eric (13)
- I was glad to meet children from other villages – Florah (11)
- We have tried new food which we have never tasted before – Nseketelo (11)
- You have taught us new thing and given us books to learn – Fabian (12)
- When I am big I am going to be the soldier of animals – Andile (12)
And the teachers:
- It is great to have the opportunity from CITW to spend time in Kruger National Park with the learners – Samson Shishavele (Makuleke Primary School)
- To be afforded time with CITW, I learnt so much more about wildlife – Virginia Hatlane (Boxahuku Primary School)
- I am glad to be invited on this learning adventure – Leinah Chauke (Joas Phahlela Primary School)
- Sharing knowledge with the leaners and CITW about the Kruger is wonderful – Gerson Khubana (Makahlule Primary School)
Our volunteer, Lindy Nieuwenhuizen, had these inspiring words:
- Many times we think as adults that we are teaching children. Yet I thank the Makuleke children for teaching me new traditions and sharing your culture with me. You have taught me so much and I am proud to be an honorary Makuleke – Lindy Nieuwenhuizen
- Volunteering for CITW has shown me that we as the human race have so much to learn from each other as well as from nature and what it offers us. Let us always remain humble. Thank you Janet, for entrusting me with the children of CITW – Lindy Nieuwenhuizen