A manager is nothing without their team
This image was taken pre-COVID-19.
BY: Donald Fraser
Camp manager blogs are written by our students who each get a chance to lead and manage a group (of their fellow students) for a period of one week.
We started week nine with refreshed minds, as most of us students on the Balule campus had chosen to go away for our semester break. Two students stayed behind to keep things running smoothly, and welcomed the newest member of our Balule family, Louise Pavid, a wildlife photographer and videographer.
Photo by: Donald Fraser
I’ve had prior management experience, so I knew that being the camp manager was not going to be an easy task. I had lots to remember, like keeping the students going with their morning snacks (milk, cereal and rusks), ensuring COVID-19 protocols were followed, checking the safari guides were ready for their driving slots, and staying in touch with the students’ duties during the week.
I hoped I would be able to learn how different it is to manage people in this type of environment compared to the corporate one I was previously in (I worked in the financial industry).
Reflecting on the week now, I think managing people remains mostly the same no matter which industry you’re in. You still need to ensure that students, like coworkers, work well together, and that tasks are delivered no matter what circumstances you face.
As a camp manager in the bush, I learned that you’ve got to be the first one up in the morning, and the last one to go to bed at night – after ensuring that everything is ready for the next day. And, as a manager, you need to understand that most of your hard work will be done behind the scenes, where nobody will stand and applaud you for what you’re doing!
Photo by: Donald Fraser
My most challenging task as camp manager? Hosting a fun evening for the students wins hands down! Everything I planned for the evening went smoothly at first. I prepared a braai (barbeque) for the students, but then one of our lead instructors noticed that the meat we prepared was cooked on Tamboti wood, which secretes a substance that is poisonous to humans! The reality of the situation quickly set in. I engaged with our chef (now my hero) and we made a new plan for dinner.
The night wouldn’t have been a success without our teamwork, and it taught me that a manager is nothing without the support of their team.
I would still like to end up as a type of manager, like a lead trainer for field guides, or even an area warden. Even though a big part of a manager’s job involves putting out “fires”, it’s still the best feeling to see teams come together. But for now… bring on the reptile and bird exams!
Interested in joining a Bushwise Field Guides course to gain more clarity on your future? Contact us.