As a German volunteer, I experienced my first camp in Bokbaai on the weekend, of 28 to 30 October 2022 alongside the 10 of the Conservation Leaders 2017 group. Bokbaai is a provincial heritage site (national monument) located in the Ganzekraal Conversation Area.
After arriving at the seaside campsite, we quickly settled into our sleeping areas and proceed to listen to an introduction to Bokbaai and the programme for the weekend. Our first activity began with learning about star constellations and one can use these to figure out directions at night. For example, we spotted the Centaurus constellation and learned how we can use this to determine the South direction. The learners applied this information and were able to find their whereabouts based on the identified constellations. Later in the camp, we learned another way of figuring out the directions with the sun by following the shadow of sticks on the beach. By the end of Friday evening, learners broke into study groups as they spent time preparing for their upcoming exams.
The next day started with us searching and collecting ants for the upcoming workshop that was run by the Iimbovane Outreach Project. It took us some time to find a proper ant nest but through working together, we were able to find a big nest shortly before we return to the campsite. In this workshop, the learners were taught about ants and their importance to our fynbos, they learnt how to pin them for further scientific investigation and examined then at them under a microscope. Before lunchtime, volunteers from the CREW Programme (Custodians of Rare and Endangered Wildflowers) also spent time with the learners and shared about the important work they do in identifying endangered and rare plants – this session was followed by the students asking questions about a possible career working with the environment in this way. This was a very informative session.
In the afternoon we did a “Rocky Shore” activity, meaning investigating the rocks that are visible during low tide. It was a lot of fun to look at the different kinds of water animals. For dinner, we started a campfire where the learners were able to make their own potjiekos. Around the fire, we shared some laughers, stories and feedback of the day but importantly we discussed their future and what they hoped to do once they finish school. By the end of our upper time, the rest of the day was used for studying.
Sunday was a fun day as we ended our camping experience. We started the day with exercise and a few teambuilding activities followed. By 11am, the accommodation was cleaned and we made our way back to Zeekoevlei ending my experience at Bokbaai alongside the Leaders.