IntroductionChildren in the Wilderness (CITW) is a non‐profit organisation supported by ecotourism company Wilderness Safaris that aims to facilitate sustainable conservation through leadership development and education of rural children in Africa.
Coordinator: Janet WilkinsonRegion: Southern Africa
One of the Trust’s cornerstone ideals is that of educating the children of Africa, and inspiring them with a love of and commitment to their natural heritage. This applies in particular to those living on the boundaries of many of Wilderness Safaris’ properties and camps. Children in the Wilderness (CITW) is a programme that fulfils this ideal and has proven extremely successful since its inception in 2001.
How it worksChildren in the Wilderness has as its overall goal to facilitate sustainable conservation through leadership development of rural children in Africa. This is achieved in a variety of ways, from running Eco-Clubs at schools within the rural communities that live on the edges of the wild areas of Africa to running three-night camps at Wilderness Safaris and partner camps.
In their villages the children are faced with many challenges. The Children in the Wilderness Eco-Clubs make use of a standardised curriculum adapted to suit the specific country or community, delivered in a fun, interactive and engaging manner. In this way, Children in the Wilderness introduces children to their wildlife heritage, builds and strengthens their capabilities to cope with life’s challenges and educates them with the life skills necessary to actualise their greatest potential.
The camp programme, run at Wilderness Safaris and other partner camps, combines leadership skills, environmental education and recreation – all in a unique and safe wilderness environment. The programme aims at increasing the children’s understanding and appreciation of the diversity of natural environments, as well as to encourage them by demonstrating the opportunities that exist for them. Finally, the programme is designed to increase self-esteem, teach new skills and impart knowledge to our children.
The Youth Environmental Stewardship (YES) Programme focuses on children with commitment and potential who have been identified on annual camps and in Eco-Clubs as showing a particular interest in conservation and/or leadership potential. The curriculum in the programme is an extension of concepts introduced in Eco-Clubs and on annual CITW camps, with a greater focus on career guidance, leadership, team building, communication and further environmental education. The YES camps are usually smaller, with fewer children attending, allowing for focused work groups and increased participation of all children. The YES programme also allows the opportunity for mentors to spend more time with the children and identify candidates for the scholarship and internship programme.
Via these programmes, Children in the Wilderness also aims to develop leadership values amongst the participants, so as to create leaders who are inspired to care for their legacy and can show others the way.
To further achieve these goals, Children in the Wilderness runs a number of other initiatives to assist children and their teachers and parents within their own milieu, such as school nutrition schemes, village and school upliftment and scholarships.
UpdatesFor more information and updates, please go to the Children in the Wilderness website: www.childreninthewilderness.com