Friday July 26, 2019
Hello from South Africa!
We are super excited to have all 9 of our students here! Flights brought them from all over the US and now we are eager to get things going. The drive from Johannesburg to Pongola was lengthy, but students got to see new parts of South Africa and get to know each other along the way.
We covered all of the orientation material today, and we have some really awesome stuff planned for the next 2 weeks. We hope you all enjoy the pictures and updates from students :).
– Courtney and Ash
Saturday July 27, 2019
Hi blog! Today we woke up bright and early to have breakfast and go for a great nature walk. We learned about the importance of soil sustaining the ecosystem and it’s formation. When we got back we had a great talk with Suzette, a conservationist, about the reserve. We followed that with a nice lunch and then we went on to do our service project where we worked on cutting down the invasive species of prickly pear cactus.
Then we came back and had some tea, and all played cards, until the time came to go on our first game drive. We saw a lot of animals including one of the big five (buffalo), giraffes, zebras, jackrabbits, a hippopotamus, ostriches, African buffalo, wildebeest, monkeys, warthogs, and different types of antelopes. Then we came back and had to give an idea of cultural influences on animal conservation. Now we’re writing the blog and about to play games and go to bed (:
-by Jadyn and Dominique
Sunday July 28, 2019
Hi family! Today we started with a nature walk where we learned about animal interactions and then after that Suzette talked to us about camera traps. We found out how they use them to capture images every 15 secs: no movement equals no pictures. After that we had ham tacos for lunch and it was good, mmmh. After that at 1pm Shaddie taught us how to survive in the bush (the wild), and then after that we had tea time with vanilla muffins and then also played uno.
Finally we went on a game count and at 6pm we ate dinner. We had a veggie meal and then the last thing of the day was our favorite part. A night drive!! We saw lots of giraffes through out the day, all of them were in groups wandering around. They were so curious. We ended the day with finding crocodiles with a hippo close by. When we came back to camp we all went straight to our tents and fell asleep.
– Dure and Tori
Monday July 29, 2019
Greetings, today we started with community service by removing an invasive cactus species. After a short break we got in the van to learn/experience telemetry. This was done by holding up a device that sends out radio signals and when pointed in the direction of animals it can locate the general vicinity of the animal wearing the monitor. Next we got back into the safari vehicle to count game animals. We wrote down which animal was seen, the total number, age, sex, amount of each sex, distance from the road, and coordinates of the place it was spotted.
– Erika and Logan
Tuesday July 30, 2019
Today we took a trip to the community. During the trip we learned and saw many new things. One of the many interesting things that we got the chance to see was the healer. The healer is a person that has the ability to heal people with her special remedies. After that, we ate a delicious South African lunch. Then, we helped plaster a mud hut. This was very challenging yet rewarding, because of the smiles that we brought to the communities faces. To conclude the night we reflected about our terrific visit to the community around the campfire.
– Calvin Martindale
– Macey Fleischman
Wednesday July 31, 2019
We woke up in the morning and ate breakfast, then we went animal tracking. After that we did an erosion control service project. To do that, we just added rocks and trees to eroded land with the hope we would help animals and people. We went on a game drive where we drove around the bush and looked for animals. Last but not least, we did a scorpion hunt but we didn’t find any 😂
Thursday August 1, 2019
Hey everyone! Jadyn and Tori here, giving you the run down. We were able to have a slow morning, giving us the chance to get ready for leaving. We hiked almost two hours to what we call “fly camp”, nicknamed because of all the flys. However, there have been a lot more bumblebees than flys. Upon arriving to camp we settled down, which for us is student led games, and then had a quick lunch. Next we went on to play a game that our leaders came up with. After our game we gathered so much fire wood, enough to last us until 7 am!
Once we gathered enough we started on our task of starting the fire. It took us 7 matches due to the wind causing difficulties. When our fire was going strong we started our cook off. It was a difficult challenge as we had to make a traditional South African dish we have yet to taste. After Dinner we set out for another night game drive. We saw Honey Badger and aardvark. Other than that, we saw our usual Impala and such.
Upon arriving back to camp we settled down for bed. We also had the option to do bonfire duty if we wanted. Two of us and a leader stayed awake till midnight to watch the fire, then they woke up the next shift for midnight to 2 am and it continued on till 6 am. It was a fun day, and we all had lots of fun.
We woke up before the sun and started the day off with our first morning game drive. We saw nyala, impala, warthogs, giraffes, zebras, wildebeests, monkeys and vultures. After the drive we came back and had breakfast. Then we went to an elephant museum and watched a video on how they went about introducing elephants to the game reserve.
After that we did team building activities. We learned the importance of communicating together as a team. We also learned about how important it it is to work on yourself on a daily basis. When we were done playing games we went on our final game drive. After the game drive we came back and ate a traditional South African meal. After that, we had a group discussion on specific issues that we find important and talked about how we could make a difference and a change.
Macey Fleischman and Calvin Martindale✍️😂
Saturday August 3, 2019
This morning we got to sleep in another hour and wake up to have breakfast around the campfire. Then a guest speaker came and gave us an educational talk about anti poaching. Afterwards we had a crime scene activity to solve and used our investigative skills to pick up clues to put together a story based on what we found. Then we went out on a drive to do snare patrol to look for any potential traps placed out for animals. We found none and went back to camp for a nice lunch and then went out on a scavenger hunt.
After an hour of looking for facts and items, we got our scores tallied up. When the scavenger hunt was done, we had some time to chill until our game drive. When we came back, our amazing cook had some very yummy pasta ready for us. Finally, we had dessert and went out to look at the beautiful stars where we discussed the different constellations. Then we came back to camp and here we are having a lovely talk around the fire.
-Dominique & Duré