The Bush Camp Experience

There is something truly wonderful about seeing a group of kids set off into the bush on an unfamiliar path. With sleeping bags and mattresses rolled up and slung over their shoulders, they venture fourth with expectant and exuberant faces.

This is how CTEET’s newly renovated bush camp experience begins. Our bush camp, situated within Rondevlei Nature Reserve, is no more than 600metres from the main CTEET or “Zeep” centre at Zeekoevlei. Yet once through the gate, the grass, bulrushes, and surrounding bush become thick and high and one could just as easily be in the middle of the Kruger National Park on a walking safari!

Sometimes the camp leaders plan riddles or lessons in orienteering and map work for the kids on the way to the camp.

Our bush camp is rustic – completely constructed of wood. The kids set their sleeping bags down snugly on the floors of two large wooden bungalows (one for boys, one for girls), which are luckily well insulated, as it can certainly get chilly! There are three smaller bungalows, usually reserved for camp leaders or teachers. The youngsters are often in disbelief over having no flushing toilets, taps or electricity!

It’s a truly unique experience. Instead of cell phones, computers, and television screens, there is the sipping of hot chocolate and story-telling under the stars on the camp’s deck area. Apart from buzzing cicada beetles, and gutturalizing Western leopard toads (If you’re lucky, you could even hear a hippo), the camp is quiet. No car engines, just the harmony of nature.

The kids also get the opportunity to cook for themselves. No fires can be made within the reserve so the children are taught to make “conservation tins”. This humble contraption is constructed with the use of recycled tins, cardboard and small candles, and works surprisingly well. The children are usually tremendously satisfied, exclaiming, “I didn’t know I could cook my own egg like this! I want to try this at home!”

This is our greatest hope – that kids visiting CTEET will leave with life-long memories, a taste of the wild wonder and freedom of nature, and carry the skills and lessons that they have learnt on sustainable living into their homes, schools, communities, and the City of Cape Town.