As part of our giving-back efforts in the communities we work with during the Nedbank Tour de Tuli, Children in the Wilderness (CITW) hosted its second annual Tri-Nations at Mapungubwe National Park, South Africa. Janet Wilkinson reports…
Fifteen children and teachers from three different countries – Botswana, South Africa, and Zimbabwe – participated on a three-night, four-day camp where they got to be tourists, make new friends and have plenty of fun while learning more about the Greater Mapungubwe Transfrontier Conservation Area (GMTFCA) in which they all live.
Monday 12 December 2016
Initially the children were very shy and wary, but one ice-breaker game in and everyone was smiling and chatting. Each child received t-shirts, toiletries, stationery, a hat, a water bottle and a work book in a back pack. The children also made Tippy Taps (a simple and hygienic device using a 5-litre plastic bottle to wash hands with soap and running water) for use during the camp.
Working in their country groups, the children (assisted by their teachers) were required to sing their country’s national anthem and tell everyone some interesting facts about their country, including some of the major tourism attractions. At this point we were visited by a group of journalists hosted by Boundless Southern Africa to provide an opportunity for members of the Zimbabwe and South African media to experience aspects of this innovative concept within the context of work done in the broader GMTFCA.
After dinner we held a “Burning of Fears ” activity and some storytelling and then it was bedtime. This activity entails writing down your fear – this can be anything from the fears the children face at camp or ones for their future… This exercise is about facing fears and learning to overcome them, showing that anything is possible and that success is up to each one of us!
We placed a Mother Bear on each child’s bed whilst they were storytelling and the children were delighted by the surprises on their pillows. Mother Bears are lovingly created by knitters around the world with the aim of providing comfort and hope to children in emerging nations, by giving them a gift of love in the form of a hand-knit or crocheted bear.
Tuesday 13 December 2016
The day’s activities started off with some energisers, followed by a discussion on the importance of respect and its importance as a CITW value.
After breakfast it was time for a Team Building activity – “The Sinking Ship.” It was wonderful to see the children from different countries building trust between their groups, gaining confidence and sharing thoughts, ideas and strategies to get through the activity as a team.
"One thing I will remember about camp is respecting and caring for others and to respect our environment."
Mojo 14 yrs – South Africa
Then it was off to visit the Interpretation Centre where Kwena Mabala of South Africa National Park’s shared Mapungbubwe’s rich heritage stories during the museum tour. We were joined by the media group and after the tour everyone enjoyed a game of “River Bank” (jumping across an imaginary river).
After a good lunch at the Mapungubwe Restaurant we returned to our lodge for some quiet time and then swimming and soccer. The “Web of Life” activity got the children thinking more about how everything is connected and why everything is important regardless of size. This was followed by a sustainability activity where children play the role of ‘adult’ community leaders using their local natural resources (trees, as represented by popcorn) and engage, discuss and justify their annual tree usage in mini-kgotlas. This resulted in some rather interesting behaviour from the children – some getting totally immersed in their role plays.
"I learnt more about respecting yourself and also about the things around us. The camp has helped us develop self-confidence."
Kethamile 11 yrs – Botswana
"The most important thing is respecting each other and to have perseverance. I will make a difference by showing people that I am an Eco-Club member, keeping the environment tidy, making tip taps and to be kindness."
Tapelo 13 yrs – Zimbabwe
"I want to learn more about the Great Mapungubwe Transfrontier Conservation Area (GMTFCA) because my country also benefits on it a lot. I like the way campers from different countries were cooperative, respective and patient regardless of their nation."
Kimmi 14 yrs – Botswana
After Super Camper awards and dinner, we watched DisneyNature’s African Cats and then it was bedtime for tired children and mentors.
Wednesday 14 December 2016
The CITW leadership value for the day was Perseverance and the mentors’ role play demonstrating the value had the children enthralled.
After breakfast Dr Sue Snyman spoke to the children on the importance of TFCAs, after which the media group joined us to talk about tourism and various careers. It was the first time any of the children got to hear what it takes to be a journalist, work in the Department of Environmental Affairs or to work for an ecotourism company like Wilderness Safaris.
"I was first scared of others but I over comed my fear and now I am having fun."
Kamogelo 13 yrs – South Africa
“Who Goes There?” is an activity involving tracks, spoor and observation. Here, the children worked in their teams to create their own creature using natural materials found around the camp. This was an exercise in planning and collaborating and some of the teams worked exceptionally well together.
After lunch and the final Super Camper awards, it was off to visit the Confluence of the Shashe and Limpopo Rivers, and the famous Treetop Walk. Kwena told the children all about the Limpopo River and various environmental facts about Mapungubwe. The children loved it when they stood on the Confluence Deck looking out over their three countries.
"Wilderness areas are important because they take care of the animals and plants." Juddley 13 yrs – South Africa
The final dinner was followed by the Camp Quiz where Quizmaster Bongani posed questions to the teams about things they had learnt on camp. This was followed by a short slideshow of pictures taken through camp. Everyone went to bed on a very happy note.
Thursday 15 December 2016
With a long day of travelling ahead for some, it was time for farewells and the journey home with thoughts about their new friends, what they’d learned and the fun they’d had.
"I had fun with people from different countries. It was absolutely fun! I would like to learn more about life with the wildlife. I would like to make a difference by changing mindsets. It will be my theme for next year so I will include every lesson I learnt here to my big Adventure 2017 Action plan." Jonathan 15 yrs – Botswana
A daily highlight throughout this camp was the awarding of SUPER CAMPER awards – each participant is awarded a prize (a nature book) and a certificate that highlights their strengths and celebrates their successes, helping them understand their own unique strengths.
Written by Janet Wilkinson