Immersed in Nature once again!

From 26 to 28 March the senior Conservation Leaders enjoyed their first camp in over a year.

When the group arrived on the Friday, one of the first activities to kick off the weekend was a session with designer and motivational speaker Genevieve Donson. The conservation leaders thoroughly enjoyed the discussion titled “What motivates you?” Bilqees Cupido tells us, “I thought a motivational camp was a really good idea, especially for the time that we are in. We had really great facilitators who all helped us with a different part of our struggle as teenagers, helped us to see our obstacles from a different perspective and encouraged us to take challenges head on and to do everything we do with trust in ourselves and discipline as well.”

On the Saturday morning Anna James from the Environmental Learning and Research Centre conducted a workshop on water and its value. The Conservation Leaders read through articles and expressed their understanding of the role water plays. “We also played a game of water bingo with facts about water and created a collage focused on water animals,” says Conservation Leader Programme Coordinator, Justine Swartz. “The learners’ feedback is that activities were great as it made them feel like kids again and they forgot about school stresses.”

According to Conservation Leader, Erin Jacobs, “I was transported back into my childhood with the creative session. We worked so well together as a team to make our art piece. That was my highlight. The only lowlight for me was learning about how lacking our country’s systems are in the environmental department. As youth we need to be the change and we know that, but we don’t always know where to start. This camp really helped all of us realise we need to be the change within ourselves.”

Morne Issel, an ex CTEET staff member, now a Field Ranger for the City of Cape Town and Mario Barnes, Conservation Leader graduate, joined the group on the Saturday afternoon and spoke about staying positive in this strange time that the covid-19 pandemic presents, and reviewed positive and negative aspects.

Justine says later on the Saturday some of the learners had to leave to study for exams. The remaining group embarked on a hike from Suikerbossie to Constantia Nek at 6am on Sunday morning. “The hike took eight hours to complete. We spotted some sunbirds, and chatted about the importance of fires for fynbos. Seeing the king protea was amazing and the group was super thrilled! During a break the Conservation Leaders had time to reflect on life and their learnings. Our focus was also “no man alone” for the hike, where everybody kept within the group and motivated the slowest person, making her the leader.”

Conservation Leader Tiyainah Harrison says, “It was so exciting for me to camp again because I have been inside and could not go anywhere for a long time. It got to the point where I was upset at everyone, stayed in my room and did not connect with my parents. The camp was like a vacation to me. It was everything I expected and more.”