February 2017 – Children in the Wilderness (CITW) is proud to have hosted yet another successful Tri-Nations Camp at Mapungubwe National Park, in partnership with Peace Parks Foundation and the Greater Mapungubwe Transfrontier Conservation Area (GMTFCA) Trilateral Technical Committee. From 12 to 15 December 2016, the camp saw 15 learners from Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe enjoy three nights in Mapungubwe on this fun-filled, educational conservation camp.
Five children between the ages of 10 and 15 from each of the participating countries, Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe, were selected to attend this unique camp based on their enthusiasm for the CITW Eco-Club sessions that they regularly attend in their home villages during the year.
“The rural learners selected to attend this camp were given the unique opportunity to interact with, and befriend, their peers from neighbouring countries. Through shared experiences, both fun and educational, they learnt that it is only through international cooperation and friendship that we can save Africa’s wild places, and by extension, ourselves”, said Dr Sue Snyman, CITW Programme Director.
The Tri-Nations Camp was run by a team of CITW Eco-Mentors and volunteers who coordinated the various activities and ensured the children’s welfare on what, for some of them, was their first trip away from home. The camp’s innovative curriculum built on what the children had learnt in their Eco-Clubs and other environmental awareness programmes throughout the year and also included various life skills activities, such as a careers workshop that focused on opportunities in tourism and conservation. Other highlights included a visit to the Mapungubwe Interpretive Centre, a trip to the confluence of the Shashe and Limpopo rivers where all three countries meet and other fun lessons and games.
“In addition to having fun, making new friends and learning more about the GMTFCA in which they all live, we placed a lot of emphasis on teaching the children life skills and building their self-esteem, acknowledging their role as our future leaders and conservationists. Enhanced self-confidence makes finding new friends that much easier, and enables tomorrow’s decision-makers to recognise the importance of cooperation and mutual respect which can have far-reaching consequences beyond their own borders”, added Snyman.
This second Tri-Nations Camp forms part of a larger project, which has seen the three countries that make up the GMTFCA collaborate on a number of initiatives. These include CITW’s principal fundraising event, the Nedbank Tour de Tuli, a mountain-biking event aimed at promoting awareness of the area and ecotourism opportunities. Involving communities that live in and around the GMTFCA is of key importance, with rural schoolchildren identified as its future custodians.
What the children had to say…
“I want to learn more about the Greater 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”, said Kimmi from Botswana (14 years old).
“One thing I will remember about camp is respecting and caring and to respect environment also”, said Mojo from South Africa (14 years old).
“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 tippy taps and to be kindness”, said Tapelo from Zimbabwe (13 years old).
“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 mind-sets. It will be my theme for next year so I will include every lesson I learnt here to my big Adventure 2017 Action plan”, said Jonathan from Botswana (15 years old).
“Wilderness areas are important because they take care of the animals and plants”, said Juddley from South Africa (13 years old).
“I would like to make a difference by keeping the dirty things out the environment so that it should be clean at all times”, said Fhumulani from Zimbabwe (14 years old).
Click here for a first-hand account of the camp from CITW Programme Coordinator for South Africa, Janet Wilkinson.