During our travels through Southern Africa, we learned about a program called Children in the Wilderness.  This program opens children’s eyes to their natural heritage, so they are more aware of their role as stewards, how they can protect their environment and build a future doing so.  Managed by Wilderness Safaris, their mission is to create opportunities for children who live in remote and wild areas to learn about conservation and caring for their land, wildlife, and our planet.

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Rob Moffatt, Wilderness Safaris Namibia, noted “Children in the Wilderness hosts rural children that live alongside our Wilderness Safaris parks and reserves and teaches them the importance of conservation.  Since 2001, 4,500 children have been hosted in our camps in seven Southern Africa countries – Botswana, Namibia, Malawi, South Africa, Seychelles, Zambia and Zimbabwe changing their lives dramatically and positively. “

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The Program teaches children ways to cope with rural challenges, providing them with numerous important life skills.  These children have life-changing experiences as noted in their quotes:

  • “I will remember everything they taught me about the environment and my self to have a brighter future.”  Bathusi Zumbo – Children in the Wilderness Participant, Botswana
  • “I came to a place of joy and passion. I will educate my brother and sister how to preserve nature.”  Roscah Ngoma – Children in the Wilderness Participant, Zambia  


Here are some basic questions about this program and how it makes a difference:

Note:  this information is provided by Wilderness Safaris

What is Children in the Wilderness?

Children in the Wilderness is a non-profit organisation supported by ecotourism company Wilderness Safaris to facilitate sustainable conservation through leadership development and education of rural children in Africa.

Insight, care and commitment are required to conserve Africa’s pristine wilderness and wildlife areas. If we are to ensure that these places continue to exist – in this generation and those to come – we need the rural children of Africa to understand the importance of conservation and its relevance in their lives. Hence, our Children in the Wilderness programme: an environmental and life skills educational programme for children, focusing on the next generation of decision-makers: inspiring them to care for their natural heritage and to become the custodians of these areas in the future.  Watch this YouTube clip: CITW creates a network of learning sanctuaries that uplift and care for our children and our planet.

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How It Works:

A Wilderness Safaris camp is closed for a few days each year, and 16-30 children between 10 and 17 years old, pre-selected from neighbouring schools and communities, are hosted in the camp. The Camp Director, with a full staff complement of volunteers and mentors, runs an educational and fun-filled programme. During the year Eco-Clubs are run at the schools, to encourage the children to continue with their education, as well as keep their love of wildlife and their heritage alive. Other related programmes, depending on the country and region, include school feeding programmes, water supply, school buildings and Eco-Mentor training.  More information, click here:  Eco-Clubs Our Camps Mentor-Training Other initiatives

How Does This Program Make a Difference?

Children in the Wilderness increases children’s awareness, bridges cultural divides, broadens horizons, builds confidence, provides opportunities for new friendships and choices, and reveals career opportunities. In turn, Wilderness Safaris camp staff are allowed to be mentors and leaders, connecting them to their jobs, instilling them with pride for their culture and their community and offering an enriching experience exposing new skills and talents.


How You Can Make a Difference!

There are many ways you can make a difference, here are a few:

  • Become a Fundraising Ambassador by creating a fundraising event or participate in a sporting event and make Children in the Wilderness the beneficiary. You can create your own webpage and circulate to potential donors who can donate online via credit card at the BackaBuddy site www.backabuddy.co.za/cw
  • Donations in kind this refers to services or products in kind that could be utilised on the programme and thereby reduce the camp’s operational costs. These would include items such as stationery, sporting equipment, school equipment etc. When making donations in kind, please ensure that we are advised in advance as there is paperwork for importation that is required to be completed. In some instances relevant import fees may outstrip the value of the goods and therefore this does need some consideration.
  • MyPlanet Card  is part of the successful South African MySchool initiative. Choose Children in the Wilderness as your beneficiary and every time you shop at partner stores we receive a percentage of your purchase. Apply for my card now!
  • Business sponsorship is a major source of funding. Through sponsorship, visibility of your company brand can be positively built, strengthened and the event can be used as a platform to introduce new products or services. Our Nedbank Tour de Tuli mountain biking event generates much publicity in print and media as well as brand exposure to many cyclists. Email us with your ideas info@childreninthewilderness.com 

To learn more about this program, visit:  http://www.childreninthewilderness.com/

Photo Credits:  Wilderness Safaris and Children in the Wilderness


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