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  • Writer's pictureBushwise Student

Through the highs and lows of a magnificent course

Updated: Dec 18, 2023

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.

Dubbed the ‘grandpa’ of the group, I ironically took over the role of camp manager from our youngest Balule student Brendan Davis.

I was born and raised in picturesque, freezing Belgium, so it took me a while to get used to the hot South African climate. Luckily summer is ending now and these days I get spoiled with a ‘chilly’ 25C° and some wonderful sunsets.

Our week’s work centred around practising our guiding skills. We had morning and afternoon game drives scheduled on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday to boost our bush knowledge, presentation and driving abilities. 

Before driving, we were made to host and entertain our ‘guests’ with a short briefing and plan for the day. Naturally these were done in a professional, no nonsense manner as demonstrated by our resident stick brothers (Matt F. and Johan N.) under the fierce supervision of trainer Jack Hutchinson. 

Despite our 2,5 months of practice we still managed to beach the cruiser multiple times at one of the sandy crossings. Pushing, digging, shoveling and sweating were officially added to our competency list for the week! I assure you, we do learn from our mistakes the bush way. 

A choice of surprise activities awaited us at the weekend. Was it our near-perfect behaviour and consistent efforts that prompted our trainers to organise this? Or perhaps the 2 student birthdays earlier in the week? Alas, we will never know. 

We could either go on a bush walk with Jack or for a birding session with Lindi. A third option was to sleep in after the busy week. The group that chose to go on the birding session were rewarded with the thrill of seeing a couple of lifers (birds you see for the first time) and achieving a new spotting record. The previous number of 54 birds was smashed and now sits at 62. To be continued over the next few weeks…

The sleep-out organised for later that weekend was highly anticipated. All packed and ready to go, we left campus for a braai and peaceful night’s rest under a full moon and starry sky. 

To ensure the necessary safety, we formed pairs to keep an hourly watch around the campfire. Luckily our fellow student Erin Anderson managed to stay awake during her shift this time (23.00-midnight) so we survived the night without any incident. 

We returned to campus on Tuesday morning exhausted but satisfied. Here, I completed my last duties as camp manager. Overall, I am looking forward to what lies ahead but cannot help but feel a little sad that we are already halfway through this magnificent course. 

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