GREAT PLAINS CONSERVATION OUTREACH TEAM

Young Explorers Conservation Camp 2013

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In December Great Plains Conservation hosted the Young Explorers Conservation Camp at the, aptly named and new, Selinda Explorers camp on the Selinda Reserve for five nights, 3rd to the 8th December 2012.

The aim was to educate and bring awareness to 20 young Conservationists (7 boys and 13 girls) from Gudigwa Primary school’s Environmental Club, which is situated very close the western side of the Selinda Reserve.

Three of our guides Kane, Dicks and Mokopi, all from the same local villages as the group, drove the children and three teachers from Gudigwa to the  camp on the 3rd December. On the six-hour drive from the village they saw Lions, Elephants, buffalos, Giraffes and Zebra as well as many birds that were equally of interest to the kids. It was very important for the kids to relate to these guides in their working environment and see what a success they have made of their lives, especially as they come from the same villages.

Upon arrival in camp the group were cheerfully welcomed by the Great Plains Conservation team.  In their rooms the children were met with impeccably made beds, and given as a gift: a face cloth, bar of soap, toothpaste, toothbrush, a water bottle as well as a National Geographic Kids Magazine. The intention behind the gifts was to educate the kids about personal health and hygiene.

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The Conservation camp included game drives, walks and nature talks from the guides in the morning.  The highlights were a pride of Lions, 2 Leopards (1 sitting up a tree and the other was lying on the road), herds and herds of elephant, pods of Hippo, and an amazing assortment of other general game. The afternoons were made up of many lessons and activities including introductory wildlife lessons. The kids were posed questions such as “What would happen if there no predators in the wildlife areas”. To which we got the most accurate responses such as “populations of prey would increase and cause a grass and shrubs to be over grazed and cause damage to the soil”. Other lessons include a National Geographic’s Big Cats Initiative presentation by Koki. The students were taught about the Big Cats that are within the reserve, and how threatened they are, and what could do to prevent further loss.

This year it was decided that the theme of the conservation camp would also be focused on being eco-friendly and the 4 R’s. These 4 R’s include: Recycle, Reduce, Reuse and Renew. Each one of these principles was explained and examples given from the kids home situations. Allie demonstrated to the kids how to make paper beads, using old magazine pages. This proved to be a magnificent idea, as kids took to it with ease.  We also spent some time showing the children the solar panel water heating units in the camp, highlighting the benefits to the environment and savings in cost in fuel.

On most afternoons we would all take a walk to a dried up sand bank on the spillway near camp to play a bit of “beach soccer”. Everyone got a chance to play during these games, and it was at here that we realized the potential and skill that both girls and boys possessed. Soccer is wonderful tool to use when teaching the kids many skills including team work, and agility.

Finally, it should be mentioned that most of the stationary and craft material was donated by our guests who had traveled to our camps. Many traveled with parcels from their homes carrying bags of pencils, coloring pencils, pens, rulers, erasers and markers with them especially for this cause. We owe a big appreciation you to all those Great Plains Conservation guests, these precious gifts were extremely appreciated by the children.

A big thank to the suppliers who donated other gifts, mainly Setari for donating all 20 kids with t-shirts and caps, and Kanvas Zone for donating the beautiful pencil cases. Lastly thank you to the Great Plains Conservation Operations/Support teams from Maun, Kasane and on the Selinda Reserve.

Gudikwa Primary School has a big year ahead as it has been paired up with a Elementary School in the Bronx, New York as part of the Big Cats Initiative’s Sister School Program, a platform for cultural  exchange between the students of both schools, we will keep you posted with updates.

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