The first week of the long school holiday was very exciting for the 20 children from The Banda School. They answered the first ‘call to all Wildlife enthusiasts” from Mr Chris Daubney, Director Co-Curricular and Head of Geography to travel to the Maasai Mara on a school summer expedition!
The Mara Training Centre in the Enonkishu Conservancy, Maasai Mara would be the backdrop for the children’s campsite and from where they were provided with a learning experience that incorporated foundational aspects of a Safari Guide course.
Over the course of the next six nights, seven days the children were based in prime wildlife areas and presented with learning opportunities including the following subjects: Animal tracks and tracking, Bird identification and behavior, Animal behavior, Astronomy, Orientation and navigation, Bush skills (making bow and arrows, and a fire) and Common trees and shrub identification. Every morning early game walks included hiking amongst various species of wildlife: wildebeest, zebra, giraffe, eland, bat-eared fox, jackal, hyena and buffalo. Game drives allowed the children to get close to the resident pride of lions including three males and a herd of elephants.
Co-habitation for the animals with their Maasai neighbours provided an opportunity for the children to visit a school and see it in practice! The children immediately joined in the lessons and were exceptional: sharing their educational knowledge with grace.
The children share their highlights of the trip:
“One evening we were experiencing Astronomy, which means stargazing! We were so excited as we were spending a night out in our sleeping bags sleeping under the stars. No doors, no walls, no mosquito nets, just us in our sleeping bags and the stars are our ceiling! The boys slept under an acacia tree; we, the girls, created a dormitory-style effect and were ready for the stars. They were amazing, but we were all so tired from our outdoor- full days that we fell asleep quite quickly. Apparently at around 9.30 pm it started to rain, small raindrops at first, which then would become heavier. This would concern Mr Daubney who with the other adults decided that they must remove the tarpaulin ‘groundsheet’ from beneath us and place it as a flysheet above us to protect us from the rain. They did just that! We never heard a thing! Thank you Mr Daubney for looking after us.”
“One of the highlights of the trip was replicating the behaviours of some of the animals we had seen wallowing in the mud! We too, wallowed in the mud! It was great fun. Fortunately we were able to wash off in the nearby Dam, but this would not be enough to wash away the smell! My Mum said I smelled when I came home, but they were happy smells!”
“Francis the Chef did an amazing job of preparing a Bush BBQ which was enjoyed by all around the camp fire. The noise and the smell of the BBQ enticed the hyenas which we heard and then we saw them!”
Kept safe, having had a wonderful experience and successfully returned home “smelling to high heaven,” the children thank Mr Daubney, Mrs McVey, Francis, the Mara Training Centre and EcoTraining Guides who gave of their time and shared their knowledge.
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