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Leadership and teamwork go together

The images in this article were taken pre-COVID-19.

BY: Matilde Sant’Ana 

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.

After an exciting and relaxing week off, the students at the Mahlahla campus met to get our COVID-19 tests before we could return to campus. After all staff and students tested negative, we were ready to roll! That’s when my job as camp manager began.

Bushwise students having catching up during a game drive.

The first Sunday after an off-week is always filled with laughter. At Mahlahla, we make an effort to sit around the dining area or the boma to share our off-week stories. My family had come all the way from Portugal to visit me, and brought me snacks and treats to share with everyone – a good Portuguese tradition! By 6:00 pm on Sunday, I’d arranged a table with cheese, crackers, ham and chorizo (a type of pork sausage used in Spanish and Mexican cuisine), as well as a chocolate dessert made by my grandma. It was a great way to start semester four – with food and friends! 

I have managerial experience from my previous job as a volunteer and camp coordinator at a wildlife conservation organisation, and I was confident it would help me take on the camp manager role. 

As camo manager, it's important that COVID protocols are observed.

From making sure COVID-19 protocols were followed (like getting everyone’s temperatures taken twice a day), to making sure the students completed their tasks (like doing dishes, emptying bins and maintaining classroom cleanliness), being camp manager can sometimes be overwhelming. But I felt really supported by everyone. 

On Monday and Tuesday, we went for game drives in the Greater Makalali Private Game Reserve. These drives help us learn the routes and practise our guiding skills before our final mock-drive assessment at the end of the semester, and ultimately, our FGASA practical assessments. 

Bushwise students on a game drive.

Photo by: Ben Klunder

As the camp manager, I had to ensure the students who had driving slots were aware of their departure times and how to keep the vehicles clean. I also had to prepare the hot boxes – snacks and drinks.

Andre De Clerk and Mark Frazer, an external assessor and a facilitator, came to campus to conduct our 4×4 theory and practical assessments. 4×4 training at Bushwise is always a fun week! Reverse stall starts, changing tyres in riverbeds and driving a land cruiser are always extremely exciting. 

Bushwise students go through 4x4 training during their course.

By Friday, the students at the Mahlahla Campus had finished their assessments and were all declared competent – another amazing experience and certificate to add to our already long list of achievements since we started our course! 

I learned a lot from being responsible for this group – something I’m sure will benefit me in my career. Being the camp manager is as much about leadership as it is about being a team player, and thankfully enough, those skills are something we all work on here at Bushwise.

Get the chance to learn valuable leadership and teamwork skills like Matilde, by joining a Bushwise course.

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