The outdoor programs of iThemba Trust introduce impoverished youth from rural areas in South Africa to outdoor adventures, educate them about resource conservation and create positive connections to wildlife and the outdoors. The programs aim to educate and expose students to the natural world and its inhabitants so that students learn to appreciate and protect it rather than fear or abuse it.
iThemba’s Back2Nature (B2N) program is a school subject taught at iThemba’s Orange Grove School. The weekly lessons and field trips expose students of all ages to the outdoors in a fun, practical and interactive way. Children learn about insects, birds, frogs, and mammals, and how to operate binoculars, use field guides, and trap insects. One of the primary goals of B2N is to begin to break down the learned and destructive fear response many students have towards anything ‘out there’. Students begin to develop empathy for and wonder at all things natural through simple exposure and discussion of nature-based topics.
iThemba’s bush schools or “Adventure Camps” are three-night camps where students participate in archery, rifle shooting, map reading and navigation, fire-making, cooking over an open fire, night walks, and plenty of other fun activities. For many of the campers, the simple act of camping out is completely new. These camps aim to challenge campers while engaging them in new and exciting adventures in the great outdoors.
Students in the Explorers program learn how humans can benefit from, and co-exist with, the natural environment and gain the skills to be confident outdoorsmen and women. Explorers, a form of boy and girl scouts, meets weekly and holds annual camps. At meetings, participants learn outdoor skills like shelter construction, water purification, fire-making, navigation in the bush, and knot-tying and apply these skills during their camps.
Website: ithemba Outdoor