What Bushwise means to me

What Bushwise means to me

BY Jordan Fourie, current Bushwise student

Camp manager blogs are written by our current students who each get a chance to lead and manage a group (of their fellow students) for a period of one week.

What does Bushwise mean? Is it for a certificate that says, “you are a legal field guide” or is it just to learn about the bush and to become, in a sense, “bush wise”?

Bushwise students walking on a track.

My Bushwise journey started out rough. Just before I was supposed to arrive on campus, I tested positive for COVID-19. My parents and I were distraught; we had just travelled 11 hours the day before only to find that I was not able to join my fellow students on campus. Postponing my course date would have caused more fees for my parents and I. Instead, the Bushwise staff went out of their way to find me comfortable accommodation and allowed me to start in a unique way, by quarantining first. I will always be grateful for that. 

That week was confusing for me. I had absolutely no symptoms, so it was as if I was just living a normal week. Being alone was great because I still Zoom-called into activities and I had one of the Bushwise staff to check up on me every now and then. That really showed me how important we students are to the Bushwise staff.

Bushwise students learning from their trainer in the field.

The Wednesday evening after my quarantining and negative test result, I finally joined campus. Being the only student to not be there from the start was hard, and I felt like an outsider. But the students and the trainers made me feel welcome and I slowly started to feel like a member of the Bushwise family. 

Studying came easy to me which was surprising because I was not very good with marks in high school, I was extremely nervous about the theory part of Bushwise. However, getting full marks for my first test took that fear away! I was in my element, having trainers that made it fun and interactive made studying that much easier.

Bushwise students on a training session in a game viewer. Many Bushwise students want a career as a field guide or trails guide one day (but not all!)

I made major improvements in my driving skills as well. From getting used to the vehicles to being able to do a proper guided experience, I improved over time. Obviously I still have improvements to make, but I am getting there and that’s what matters. 

On my last practice drive, I encountered South Africa’s giant, the African elephant. While I have a healthy respect for animals, I‘m genuinely not afraid of any animal. However, being in front of a beautiful majestic elephant still sends shivers through my entire body! 

Elephants can eat 150 kg of food in a dayNo matter who you are, whether you have no fear of anything, when an animal bigger than your vehicle stands in front of you, you become a mouse, powerless compared to it. Thankfully, this interaction (as with our other elephant observations) was peaceful and the elephant didn’t mind our presence.

So, to answer my question in the beginning, I think Bushwise is those things but also something else entirely. Yes, it includes becoming a legal guide, and yes, it’s helped me start to fully understand nature. But at the end of the day that is not all Bushwise is about. 

Bushwise students learning track and sign.

To me, Bushwise is a family and the experience is about the journey. As a student, you’re like the little sibling that needs to be protected but not held back, to grow as a person, to come out of your shell, and to learn how to act in certain situations. It’s about the memories we make along the way and developing a passion for nature. 

Through Bushwise we can become guides that make an impact on others, to help nature regrow and survive. If we don’t, the next generation won’t be able to see and experience the wildlife we have today. 

Bushwise students become like family during their course.

In David Attenborough’s words, “The fact is that no species has ever had such wholesale control over everything on earth, living or dead, as we now have. That lays upon us, whether we like it or not, an awesome responsibility. In our hands now lies not only our own future but that of all other living creatures with whom we share the earth.”

Help protect our natural world for the next generation by starting a career as a field guide. Apply today to join a Bushwise course.