The African bush is an enchanting place for a child: filled with wild creatures and plants that some have only ever seen in movies and books. But the wilderness it’s also a place of learning, where ancient African wisdom combines with natural science to open a child’s mind to the wonders of nature and the cosmos.
This is why we at Tintswalo Manor House have created the ideal children’s bush program to ensure that kids get the most out of their time in the wilderness, learning to love every creature, from the tiny insects to the largest elephants and lions. The objective of our children’s program is to leave kids with wide eyes and open minds, giving them a whole new perspective on Africa and the world, all the while having a lot of fun!
The School of Nature: Five Days of Fun and Learning
When the kids children first arrive at Safari Lodge, they will be introduced to the mentors of their stay: their field guide and tracker. They will be presented with a workbook, safety procedures and a list of all the fun activities that will make up the experience. A kiddies bag is provided for them with all the tools of the bush – notebook, binoculars, crayons, compass and water bottle.
We like to divide each day into themes, so as not to provide too much information. These themes will make up a wonderful combination of skills: from learning the ancient art of tracking by creating plaster moulds of footprints, to identifying colourful birds and insects, and gazing up at the southern sky and learning the stars.
Day 1: South Africa and Shangaan Culture
The only way to learn true African wisdom is from the African people themselves. This day consists of an introduction to the culture of South Africa, its people, and history. The kids are taken out on their first game drive and introduced to the safety guidelines and introduction to the bushveld. In their activity for the day, the kids will paint the South African Flag on T-shirts; the younger children ones can use the colours of the flags’ colours to paint anything on their T-shirts.
Day 2: Bush Supermarket and Restaurant
How have people survived in the bushveld for millennia? This day concentrates on the amazing bouty that the bush has to offer for people, and how the circle of life continues all the way down the food chain. During the game drive, the kids will learn how certain things can be used as substitutes for, amongst other things, toothbrushes, toilet paper and cups trees, shrubs. They will identify animal droppings and can collect plants and leaves for a collage that they can take back to school for show and tell.
Day 3 and 4: Tracking
The art of tracking is one of the most interesting and exciting skills to learn. As a child, it requires all sorts of skills, from spotting, to listening, to imagining which animals may have passed through the area. Learning to track can be a life-changing experience for children as they connect with nature and learn the necessary skills it would take to track an animal. this earliest of human skills. Professional trackers assist in teaching the kids the ways of tracking in the bush, and then they head out to do it themselves. The kids children will learn each track by creating plaster footprint moulds which they can take home. Treasure hunts can also be organised, where kids use their new skills to find the treasure, where a guide will make a spoor for children to follow in conjunction with various clues that will lead them to the treasure, which they can keep. This can also be an indoor activity.
Night 3 or 4: STAR GAZING After learning all the wonderful aspects about the bush here on Earth, it’s time for the kids to look up. This day concentrates on learning about the cosmos, where kids are shown stars in the milky way and shown the spectacular southern hemisphere skies. Kids can apply their knowledge by painting of the planets and stars using black paper, glitter and white paint for good effect.
Day 5: Insects and Birds
This day is all about the little things. The children will spend the day exploring and searching the reserve can go out on game drive to find the Small Five (Elephant shrew, buffalo weaver, ant lion, leopard tortoise, and rhino beetle) and learn about insects, lizards, frogs and birds. Identifying birds is incredibly fun and challenging as the field guide will explain how to do this from various visual aspects as well as from bird calls.
At the end of each day, we like to tell the kids an ancient Shangaan story. As the sun goes down, these stories, told by our Shangaan staff members, bring all the day’s learning together using traditional narratives that children love. While much of what the kids have learned is practical, this is a time to sit and imagine. These stories are the true local knowledge filled with African secrets and moral truths, passed down through the generations, ensuring that the wisdom continues in Africa.
The hope is that the kids will internalise these stories and go home with the knowledge and love of Africa in their hearts.
Let the safari begin…