Following a two-year hiatus, the much loved end of year children’s camps by Children in the Wilderness (CITW) returned this year with the newest school under the programme hosted at Duma Tau safari camp.
The group of 20 children from Parakarungu Primary school became the first to be hosted for a three-day event, at this premium camp run by Wilderness Botswana under a sponsorship deal with FNBB foundation.
The children were accompanied by their school head, Chobe regional education officer and Chairman of the Parents Teachers Association, to witness the historic moment for their children.
The over two decades old CITW is Wilderness Botswana’s charity foundation set up primarily as an environmental education and life skills development initiative for children with the main focus in the North West.
While in camp, the children were taught various concepts of environmental conservation by the experts in the areas, among them tour guides who took the children on game drives to identify the wildlife in the area.
Speaking on the sidelines of the camp, Principal Education Officer, who is also environment education coordinator in Chobe Peter Bafentse said they signed a memorandum of understanding with CITW in 2021, something that could not have come at the right time as environmental education is one of the emerging issues that need to be infused into the curriculum.
Bafentse said this year’s camp being the first for their children, it was imperative that they present themselves to also observe the proceedings and how its conducted.
“The main purpose of the partnership was for our learners to benefit from environment conservation,” he said.
He said the camps themselves are of major benefit to the children who they expect to experience the issue of eco-tourism and what it means to environmental conservation.
“The eventual aim is to improve the academic performance of the children,” Bafentse noted.
Parakarungu Primary school PTA chairman John Jeremiah has no doubt that the children will go back to become resourceful to the community at large on the important issue of environmental conservation.
This is also imperative, given the location the village of Parakarungu, which itself is a wildlife area. By sharing the knowledge, they learnt from the camp with their fellow students at school and in the village and also with the community will go a long way in ensuring environmental protection and human wildlife co-existence, Jeremiah believes.
Meanwhile, Parakarungu School head Joyce Mogorosi said since this was their first camp, they picked up some differences in the children’s behaviour as compared to that when in school.
She highlighted that the children were happy, more friendly and free when answering questions, and she believes this could be the structure of their lessons, which infuses games as part of learning.
CITW has over the years put through its camps over 4500 children mainly from wildlife areas, and those that the company operates. The idea behind the program is to teach them environmental conservation and leadership skills at a tender age.
The programme has also over the years been revamped to be in line with the national curriculum on environmental education, with more emphasis on the practical aspect, where the children are taken to experience the linkages between eco-tourism and environmental conservation.
This has further evolved to training teachers on the curriculum that has been produced by both the programme and regional education office. These schools of focus have eco-clubs where children passionate about environment education are then selected to attend these camps.
Further to being taught various aspect of environmental conservation and have the opportunity to see some wildlife and experience different environment, the children also get an opportunity of a life time to fly since they are transported to camp by aircraft. At the end of it all, that excitement and joy easily radiates in their faces.