The inside scoop on being a camp manager
BY: Anton Fritz
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.
I expected my role as camp manager to involve being the link between the students and trainers – relaying announcements, taking everyone’s temperatures as part of Bushwise’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols, and ensuring chores were being done. The experience was almost what I expected, but I learnt that while leadership looks glamorous from the outside, it can mean being responsible for everything, while in control of nothing!
I also passed on announcements like changes to our schedule, posted information on the classroom board (like the expected weather for the day and the meals planned), welcomed and made coffee for guests, and checked on chores. Making sure that everyone pulled their weight and completed their assigned duties could be a hassle!
Getting to be the host for a night was the most exciting experience. I decided on a semi-formal dinner, so I dressed up the classroom with tablecloths, candles, potted plants, and decorative skulls (to add a touch of Halloween to things).
This image was taken pre-COVID-19.
I also asked the other students to dress up, and to sit with students they don’t usually get to spend time with. With soft jazz playing in the background, we all performed mock toasts.
It took over two hours to prepare everything, and I had to acquire the decorations all on my own, but the night was a success. Effort goes a long way!
I’d been finding it a significant challenge to make sure everyone got their chores done during the week – some students were harder to convince than others! So, I decided to address the class at dinner.
I told them about the importance of chores being done, and that being asked to do your chores shouldn’t be taken personally. Secondly, I reminded everyone that we all live here together, so every person is responsible for cleaning up after themselves.
There were times when my role felt overwhelming, and the only resolution was to get assistance from the trainers. But being a camp manager contributed to my goals by teaching me that no matter where I end up, I will know how to lead people.
Before joining Bushwise, I had never been to South Africa, nor had I even been on the African continent. Now, I’m aiming to pass this course with flying colours and get employed as a field guide. I would be happy to work at a lodge, or in research, but my ultimate goal would be going into anti-poaching work of some kind.
Don’t just take it from Anton, find the answers to what it’s like to be a camp manager for yourself!