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Nurturing Children, Strengthening Conservation, and Introducing Sustainability: Thornybush’s Kids in Conservation Program

20 Dec 2023 | By Author Thornybush | Community Projects & Lodges & Uncategorised

Thornybush recently played host to a unique and inspiring initiative—Kids in Conservation. The young participants, all children of Thornybush’s dedicated staff, embarked on a journey of discovery, learning and adventure. The programme aims to sow the seeds of conservation in the hearts of these young minds, fostering a passion for wildlife, nature and sustainable living.

Thornybush’s commitment to education and supporting the community took centre stage as the Kids in Conservation programme was launched with the children not only being treated to a safari adventure but were also immersed in a holistic experience that combined education, mentorship, and hands-on activities. The itinerary for the program was carefully planned to blend education and fun seamlessly.

“Thornybush recognises the importance of nurturing the next generation of conservationists, and the Kids in Conservation programme is a testament to the company’s commitment to sustainability. By investing in the education of these young minds, Thornybush is actively shaping the future of safari hospitality and wildlife conservation” says Lindsay Hanekom, General Manager, Thornybush Community.

Day 1: The Journey Begins

On December 8th, the Kids in Conservation programme kicked off with a flurry of excitement as children from Acornhoek, Hluvukani, and Sigagule were picked up and transported to Jackalberry Lodge. After all the introductions and the code of conduct were discussed, the children received backpacks filled with hats, shirts, water bottles, binoculars and stationery. The budding wildlife enthusiasts checked into their rooms and enjoyed a delicious lunch prepared by the chef and expertly looked after by The Jackalberry staff, really immersing them in the full Thornybush experience!

The afternoon saw the initiation of the Wild Shots Outreach programme. The children enjoyed an afternoon of photography lessons, each one having their own camera. They then honed their newly learned skills on an exciting game drive. Everyone enjoyed dinner back at the lodge, some fun games and an early night ready for another action-packed day on safari.

Day 2: A Day of Exploration and Learning

The second day began with an early morning game drive, offering the children sightings of lions, rhinos, buffalo and all the magical plains game! After a delicious breakfast and time to freshen up the Global Conservation Corps (GCC) team arrived and introduced the children to various conservation careers. Engaging lessons, games, and hands-on exploration of 10 wildlife, conservation, and hospitality careers.  The children had a unique opportunity to interact with individuals practising these careers:

• Field Ranger – Mbhoni

• Environmental Educator – Lefa/Promise

• Conservation Pilot – Matt and Karabo

• Conservation Scientist (Ecologist) – Mbhoni

• Hospitality – Zoe

•  Field Guide – Calton

• Tracker – Elliot

•  Chef – Martha

• Lodge Manager – Nataly

• Sustainability ambassador – Lindsay

After the busy morning, the children enjoyed ice-cold milkshakes, swimming to beat the intense heat and another delicious lunch prepared by the chefs. The afternoon game drive was delayed briefly due to a bushfire, showcasing the realities of life on a nature reserve. They witnessed first-hand what happens and how everyone works as a team to assist—the day ended with a boma night and the chance for reflection and discussion on their wildlife conservation experiences and lessons learned over the last two days.

Day 3: A Rainy Farewell

The final day dawned with rain, but the children’s enthusiasm remained unwavering as they embarked on the last game drive. The day concluded with a heartfelt goodbye as the participants packed up and prepared for their journey home, armed with newfound knowledge and memories.

What the parents had to say:

The impact of the Kids in Conservation program extended beyond the participants to their parents, who expressed their gratitude:

“We thank you so much; our kids were so happy to be there. We appreciate as parents what you have done for our kids. KIDS IN CONSERVATION increased their knowledge about wildlife and careers.”

“Thank you, Thornybush team, for sharing and guiding our kids to know how important nature conservation is.”

Thornybush’s Kids in Conservation programme not only achieved its educational objectives but also created lasting memories and sparked a passion for conservation in the next generation’s hearts. As these young minds return home, they carry the seeds of a sustainable future nurtured in the heart of the African wilderness.

*Special thanks to Jackalberry Lodge, Global Conservation Corp., Wildshots Outreach, and Steve & Jane Mikalsky.

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