YES Camp in Mosi-Oa-Tunya National Park, Zambia

In April 2018, Children in the Wilderness (CITW) Zambezi hosted their first Youth Environmental Stewardship (YES) Camp in Zambia. This came as a precursor to the YES Eco-Mentor training held in May.

For the YES Eco-Mentor training, children from this camp who showed real leadership potential, and a passion for our programme, were invited to attend the Mentor training. The idea is that armed with the knowledge gained from the training, and the fun and learning from this camp, these youngsters will take their enthusiasm and learnings back to their school’s YES Clubs. Read about that training here.

18 excited boys and girls from Simoonga Combined Secondary school and Nalituwe Secondary School, aged between 17 and 19, arrived at the riverside camping in Mosi-Oa-Tunya National Park site in the morning. There was a buzz of excitement as the two buses arrived and students realized they were going to be camping right next to the majestic Zambezi River with the thunder of the Mosi-oa-tunya (The Smoke That Thunders) in the not too distant background. It was the first time in history that camping was allowed in the park and the YES Campers and Eco-mentors were awestruck by the beauty of nature surrounding them.

The YES Programme follows all CITW programme elements, in that it is learning interactive, responsive and fun. It is our intention that the YES curriculum derives clear learning outcomes for all activities and that there is a good balance between the curriculum’s components. The curriculum for the camp was designed based on this primary focus, which was birds. A well-organized team of Mentors and professional guides welcomes the campers and immediately got stuck in. “Ice breakers” and “getting to know you games” got things started. Camp rules were explained, and the children were divided into teams. Everyone got involved setting up the camp (tents, Tippy Taps, the cooking area, outdoor makeshift showers, etc.) and in no time we were ready for activities. The “Lilac Breasted Rollers” and the “Ground Hornbill” kitted for their first walk, went out with their guides to observe the insects, plants, and habitat, collected specimens and came back to camp for further animated explanations about the circle of life and biodiversity.

Meal times were an opportunity to emphasize living together in the community as we all worked as a team in preparing meals, washing up and camp clean up. Every morning we were woken by the hush sound of the river and we warmed up with CITW energisers and exercise. Team building activities were full of laughs and encouraging cheers. Every night we sat by the fire for reflections, storytelling and star gazing. The guides showed us the different constellations which helped to increase immersion in nature. All activities set each day were an opportunity to emphasize conservation messages and values such as respect, empathy, opportunities, etc.

The aim of YES camp is to empower young people to take initiative, and to consider the impact of their lifestyle choices on the environment. Campers were encouraged to think globally and act locally – when everyone is taking care of their immediate environment we are sure to positively impact on the rest of the world. The camp did not only include lessons on biodiversity and protection of the environment, but also reflection on the role young people have to play in building of self-confidence to find their own path.

After two nights of camping, we packed up camp and said goodbye to a team of budding environmentalists who were rearing to go and make a difference in their communities and schools.

I promise that I will spread the knowledge I have gained during the camp” – Mary

“I never had any lowest moment because I enjoyed each and every activity we were doing!” – Editor

“I think the knowledge that I have gotten from our mentors and guides will really make me successful, especially with my career as an environmentalist” – Lydia

“I have learned a lot of things and I now also want to teach my classmates and my family members about conservation” – Florence

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