Celebrating World Youth Skills Day with Children in the Wilderness


Tenneil Zondagh


Wilderness Safaris – and more specifically, its non-profit Children in the Wilderness (CITW) – is all about developing programmes to assist in the improvement of the environmental skills and knowledge of the most important people in our lives … children. Education is not only about the past and present, but it is also the key to the future.

In 2014, the United Nations General Assembly declared 15 July as World Youth Skills Day, to celebrate the strategic importance of equipping young people with skills for employment, decent work and entrepreneurship. The UN celebrates this day by sharing technology with youth and making sure they have the skills needed to fulfil society in the future. In Africa, and CITW, things are done slightly differently, but all with the same goal.

"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world "

Founded some two decades ago by Wilderness Safaris, after hosting the late Paul Newman and learning about his inspirational Association of Hole in the Wall camps, CITW is the driving force behind our life-changing focus on community.

Eco-Clubs and Eco-Mentors

Children in the Wilderness’ weekly Eco-Clubs in regional partner schools increase children’s awareness, bridge cultural divides, broaden horizons, build confidence, provide opportunities for new friendships and positive life choices, and reveal career opportunities. In turn, the children’s Eco-Mentors are leaders, connecting them to their jobs, instilling pride for their culture and their community, and offering an enriching experience, exposing new skills and talents.

Eco-Club Camps

Annual CITW Eco-Club camps are held in Wilderness Safaris or associated partner camps, which close for the duration of these three-day events. They are interactive and fun, and also obviously highly informative. Run by volunteer Eco-Mentors primarily drawn from camp staff and members of the local community, these annual camps expose the children to different leadership skills while simultaneously increase the respect of community for camp staff.

An important aspect of the camps is the campers’ pledge to the environment. Everybody stands together to affirm their commitment to the protection of nature and biodiversity. Campers are also gifted a treasured Mother Bear Project hand-knit or crocheted bear, donated by knitters from the United States and elsewhere.

Read about the 2020 Hwange Eco-Camp here.

Youth Environmental Stewardship Programme (YES)

CITW’s YES Programme focuses on children with commitment and potential who have been identified on annual CITW camps and in Eco-Clubs as showing a particular interest in conservation and/or leadership potential. The YES curriculum is an extension of concepts introduced in Eco-Clubs and on annual CITW camps, with a greater focus on career guidance, leadership, team building, communication and further environmental education. Read more here.

Eco-Club Successes

Conservation Science Camp for Girls in Botswana

In an effort to encourage and empower school girls in rural areas to develop an interest in environmental and conservation science, in late April 2021, CITW Botswana facilitated a five-day Conservation Science Camp for 30 girls from Ngambao Community Junior Secondary School in Seronga, in Botswana’s North-West District.

“CITW is focused on environmental education, life skills and leadership development for children in Botswana and Africa. By understanding the importance of conservation and its relevance to the lives of the next generation of decision-makers, we can inspire them to care for their natural heritage and to become the custodians of these areas in the future”, noted Moalosi Lebekwe, CITW Botswana Programme Co-ordinator. With the success of this camp, Moalosi and his team are already planning the next one.

Read about the conservation science camp here.

Judith’s Reading Room Award – Ziga Primary School, Zimbabwe

After COVID-related delays, CITW Zambezi has finally been able to induct Ziga Primary School’s library as the 100th Judith’s Reading Room library. Due to school closures in Zimbabwe from March 2020 – March 2021, this much-anticipated unveiling had to wait until the team was able to visit schools again. Have a look at the wonderful new library here.

"Education is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to open children’s hearts and minds to the unbelievable wonder of the universe "

Photography Lessons in Rwanda

Who said learning can’t be fun? With permission from Rwanda’s Ministry of Education and local district leaders, an entire afternoon was devoted to extra-curricular learning at Akayange Primary School, which is situated in the village closest to Akagera National Park, where Wilderness Safaris Magashi is located. All 75 students in the highest classes at the school took part in the activities. The students were divided into three groups of 25 learners each. The different groups rotated through activities of Polaroid photography, drawing hand-crafted thank-you cards, and outside physical exercise. Witness the wonder among the students here.

Follow CITW on social media for daily updates and inspiration from the regions.

Facebook and Instagram

How You Can Make a Difference

CITW is currently commemorating its milestone 20th year of operation. The privations of the COVID-19 pandemic have been particularly hard-felt in Wilderness Safaris’ neighbouring communities where CITW partner schools and projects are situated, and the programme’s regional co-ordinators have been busier than ever supporting them with much-needed food hampers – despite its premier fundraising event, the Nedbank Tour de Tuli being cancelled in 2020 and postponed in 2021, due to COVID lockdowns and regulations.

Wilderness Safaris’ Africa in Focus Photo Competition

Our Africa in Focus photo competition, in partnership with Olympus, opens on 1 September, and all images taken anywhere on the continent are eligible for submission.

CITW is the sole beneficiary of this year’s competition, and we are proud to help support its vitally important community programmes.

Whether you’re travelling soon, or have a drawer full of memory cards to upload, let’s revel in Africa’s beauty, adventure, wide-open spaces, and true wilderness.

Click here to learn more about the competition and pre-register now.

Let’s plan your next journey


When we say we’re there every step of the way, we mean it, literally. From planning the perfect circuit, to private inter-camp transfers on Wilderness Air, and easing you through Customs. We’re with you on the ground, at your side, 24-7, from start to finish. Ready to take the road less travelled? Contact our Travel Designers to plan an unforgettable journey.