Ever wonder what summer camp is like for African children? In many nations of southern Africa (including Zimbabwe, Botswana, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, and Zambia), an organization called Children in the Wilderness provides camp experiences for African children that teach them the value of conserving their natural resources.
Through programs that focus on environmental protection and life skills, Children in the Wilderness educates African children about the important role that conservation plays in preserving the wild spaces in their countries. The goal of this organization is to develop future leaders who will promote the best interests of the land and wildlife around them.
Here’s a closer look at the Children in the Wilderness programs, each of which focuses on the environmental issues and challenges unique to its region.
The first country to establish a Children in the Wilderness program, Botswana has hosted about 96 children each year since 2001, in camps located along the Okavango Delta. In addition to a six-day Environmental Stewardship Program that students attend in the wilderness, they can participate in Environmental Clubs at their schools, funded and organized by Children in the Wilderness.
The 50 to 96 children who visit Malawi’s Myuu Camp each year stay on Lake Malawi. Because of their proximity to this water body, their lessons focus on water conservation efforts and methods for using the lake sustainably. Children here also learn to swim and get the opportunity to interview every staff member of the Malawi chapter of Children in the Wilderness. Graduates of Malawi’s program have established a tree nursery and fence protection and maintenance program nearby.
Since is start in 2002, roughly 90 children have attended Namibia’s Children in the Wilderness programs each year. Many of the program’s graduates are now permanently employed with Wilderness Safaris, a guide group that offers Namibia safari tours.
South African children can visit one of two wilderness camp locations, Pafuri Camp and Rocktail Beach Camp. With a total of 69 attendees each year, the South African chapter of Children in the Wilderness has expanded its reach with the Environmental Clubs it established in the Makuleke Community.
Because poaching is a major concern in Kafue National Park and South Luangwa National Park, where Zambia’s wilderness programs are hosted, the curriculum here focuses on how to prevent that crime. In addition to the 90 children per year who get to visit the actual camp, Zambia’s chapter offers follow-up programs in the schools.
The 130 children who attend the program at Linkwasha Camp in Hwange National Park each year hail from villages around the park and from an AIDS orphanage located in the town of Dete. Instead of follow-up programs run in the schools, Zimbabwe’s programs run nutrition, literacy, and school facility upgrade programs, which leaders decided the Zimbabwean population needed more immediately than environmental follow-up.
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If you’d like to learn more about the work that Children in the Wilderness does for African children, or if you’d like to sponsor a child or make a donation, you can do so on the Children in the Wilderness website.
What conservation lessons do you think we need to start teaching?