from EUR 1900
Duration: minimum 2 weeks
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    Since 2006, the bush school has welcomed eight children every week to come to the bush for a five-day stay to learn about the environment. We pick up the Grade 8 students on Monday morning and they stay in dorms at the camp. During their stay, they participate in our teaching program. The goal? To provide a close and engaging learning experience that motivates students to care for their environment, while teaching them important life skills.

    The teaching program is dynamic and changes as we find new lessons and activities that the kids enjoy. Although the main frame of the program has stayed the same, we are always looking to improve. The program is completely taught by volunteers and they get a detailed teaching program before they arrive so that they can learn the material.

    What makes our Teaching Program different?

    The children get to spend a full week at our camp with our volunteers and get to have fun, as well as learn a lot! Because we only take eight children each week, they benefit from one-on-one attention and participate in every lesson. Though our focus is on environmental education, we also spend time teaching the children life skills and addressing social problems like alcohol and drug addiction or safe sex. The teaching program is very hands-on. The children get to see the animals up-close at our wildlife orphanage and interact with the animals every day. The lessons are interactive and practical and the children leave here with a passion for learning.

    Working with the Animals in the Wildlife Orphanage

    The animals here are the cornerstone for the education program. Sadly, many of them are not able to be released but we are able to give them a second life where they make a big impact. Most of the children that come to the bush schools have never seen one of the Big 5 – Rhino, Lion, Leopard, Elephant, and Buffalo – or any of the local wildlife. Due to poaching and the killing of animals because they destroy crops, the wildlife has been relocated to private and national reserves for their protection. Entrance into these reserves is expensive so the local communities cannot enter.

    We teach the children that their local wildlife should not be inherently feared or hated. We teach them that animals should be protected and respected. We teach them that the local wildlife creates jobs through tourism and animal care. Each day you will help with the different chores that need to be done to keep our animals happy and healthy such as cleaning each enclosure and feeding them.

    Many of the animals that come here are injured or require special care (especially the babies!). That means that you may be tasked with providing medicine, first aid, or additional feeding to animals at the camp, day or night. If we have any new arrivals or animal releases, you will also have the opportunity to renovate or build new animal enclosures with our staff.

    Animals as Ambassadors

    Having a safe place to rehabilitate injured or orphaned animals has always been part of our vision. It has also grown into an integral part of the education of the local children. The animals in the orphanage are integrated into the teaching program with the children. There are lessons about poaching, animal facts, and learning how to identify animals by their tracks. The children complete a scavenger hunt around the camp based on the different animals and facts about them.

    Each morning and each afternoon, the children assist volunteers and staff in cleaning enclosures and feeding the animals. The children also interact with our more friendly residents during their free time. By actively taking part in animal care and by learning so much about animals during their stay, the children are inspired to protect the wildlife. It would be impossible to achieve our mission without the animals in our care.

    Community Projects

    Some of the children enjoyed their experience so much that together they organized a small after school club to share their inspiration and love for conservation. We are proud to have mentored their club which has now developed into our Outreach Program. The ECO CLUB takes around 30 students at a time for 6 weeks. These voluntary clubs are very popular and the kids are celebrated with a big ceremony at the end of each cycle!

    By working every week with children in their villages, we extend the impact to a wider population, and empower the children to be role models in their community. Children from any grade can join and many will attend eco-club for several years.

    Community Improvement Projects

    With the help of the children in the ECO CLUB, we have initiated and sponsored several community projects, such as community clean-up projects, reusing rubbish to build a dustbin, and planting trees at the creche and school. We aim to not only improve the aesthetics of the community, but to instill a sense of pride and responsibility for their community into the children. That way, they will take better care of it in the future.

    Wildlife Crime Campaigns

    During the weeks when we are not able to bring children to the camp due to exams or school breaks, we go to schools we normally can't work with to do Outreach Campaigning. This consists of 3 mornings or afternoons where we teach Grade 7 kids about the environment, recycling and more important subjects. We are not able to welcome all of these children to our camp, but by doing our Outreach Campaigning we can at least bring them a little more knowledge on the environment and its importance.

    Your role:
    Monday through Friday you will be teaching a group of eight children, ages 13-16, about the environment, the importance of protecting wildlife, and about social issues like safe sex and substance abuse. All classes are taught in English but you do not need to be a native English speaker to teach. You also don't need to have any teaching experience. We have everything you need to be a great teacher and we are happy to help you if you need it!

    Your day starts at 7am and lessons begin at 9am. Classes are finished around 4:30pm and then we have group talks with the kids about social issues. Don't worry, we do make time for fun too! You will play games with the children, join them in the pool, and dance around the bonfire to their favorite songs. You also work with the kids to feed and care for the animals.

    After you spend your day teaching children you will help our staff care for the animals around camp. This can be anything from feeding an animal with a bottle to cleaning their enclosures or picking up a hammer and renovating their homes.
    Is the work dangerous?
    Is there a potential risk?
    When working with wild animals risk is always possible.

    We are located inside a private game reserve in the surrounding area of the city of Hoedspruit. You have the option of booking a flight from Johannesburg to Hoedspruit Airport, where one of our teammates will pick you up, or booking a shuttle from Johannesburg Airport to Hoedspruit town, where you will also be picked up by us.

    We do arrivals and departures to/from camp on SATURDAYS. Arrivals/departures on different days will incur on a charge of R850 (approx. 40 EUR).

    A member of the project will meet you on arrival and they will bring you back to camp where you will have a meet and greet with everyone before heading off to your room and getting a tour around camp.
    minimum 2 weeks
    Additional per week:
    The Bush School & Wildlife Orphanage provides supplementary environmental and life skills education to grade 8 learners in the nearby underserved communities. Each Monday morning, we welcome eight children to the camp to spend five days attending lessons and doing activities aimed at building their knowledge of the environment.

    After their time here, students from our partner schools have the opportunity to attend an Eco Club at their school taught by the Outreach Manager and volunteers. The Eco Club is voluntary for any student still interested in learning about the environment. Lessons are designed to reinforce the concepts taught at the bush school and foster the students’ interest in protecting their natural heritage. Students and volunteers undertake community projects, such as rubbish clean-up days or tree plantings to show how the lessons can be applied at home.

    The day begins at 7am for the children and volunteers. Each day has a mix of lessons, activities, and animal interactions. In a stark contrast to their normal classes in secondary school, class sizes are kept small and individual attention is given to each child. Several lessons, such as animal knowledge, are designed to be taught one-on-one between the volunteer and child.

    Though not environmentally focused the bush schools social talks and life skills lessons are included in the program to address some serious issues that the children face at home. The friendly environment gives the children the confidence to speak openly about their concerns and needs.

    Another aspect of the teaching program is to introduce children to the variety of job opportunities available to them near their home. A portion of the week is spent with the children explaining the types of employment in conservation and ecotourism. On Tuesday, the children visit one of the neighboring game lodges, giving them the opportunity to engage with employees and learn about their various positions in the establishment.

    Near the end of the week, we ask the children to bring everything they learnt and experienced together in a lesson called “Making South Africa a Better Place”. The volunteers and students work together to explain how the environment, wildlife, and a clean community all contribute to the economy and culture of South Africa.

    The lesson ends with the children writing down six personal promises for themselves to follow in order to improve their lives and protect the environment. The promises are written on a printed and laminated certificate. The children can therefore share what they have learnt with their family and friends at home.

    Upon completion of our weekly environmental education program the children take the lead role in participating in the awards ceremony.
    The children deliver a brief presentation to an audience of staff, volunteers and of course their peers detailing their learning and achievement over the week. The aim is to develop self-confidence in public speaking.

    As teachers and caretakers our volunteers are vital to the success of our programs and really make an impact on the communities. The volunteers will teach the local children, care for the animals and reach out to the community.
    Minimum age:
    16. Please note that if you are under 18, you will be required to send a parental consent document.
    Police clearance:
    Special skills required:
    No special skills or previous training is required. However, it is important to be able to communicate well with others, and be able to adapt among different personalities and cultures. You must be able to be patient with others and understand that not all learn at the same pace. Knowledge and vocabulary of English is very important. After all, the ultimate goal is to make a difference, the more impact as possible in the experience of the children and animals.

    Language requirement:
    Volunteers must be able to communicate well in English. Fluency is not required, however you must be comfortable speaking.
    What's included:
    What's Included

    3 meals per day - breakfast, lunch and dinner.
    Accommodation - shared bedrooms and shared bathrooms.
    Laundry and room cleaning - done everyday.
    Town-trips once a week.
    What's excluded:
    What's Excluded

    Flights or transportation from/to Hoedspruit from your original departure site.
    Personal expenses.

    Here are Just Some of the Things you can do in the surrounding area.

    Visit Kruger National Park for a safari
    Go to Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre
    Do the Tshukudu Game Lodge Cheetah walk
    Visit the Kinyonga Reptile Centre
    Hot air ballooning over the Blyde River Canyon
    Boat trips on the Blyde River
    Horseback Riding safaris
    Closest town:
    Surrounding area:
    Limpopo Province

    By plane -
    Book your internal flight with AIRLINK OR CemAir as soon as possible as they are often full on Saturdays

    By bus -
    Swift : Swift Kruger Shuttle provides ground transport to all corners of Southern Africa. Swift Kruger Shuttle covers all your Southern African travel requirements, from ground transport, accommodation, to all activities in-between.
    They offer a rate of R 940 p/p one way. In order to get a discounted price of R799 you need to ask for the promo code from us. They have a shuttle that leaves the OR Tambo Airport at 07:00 am.
    Ask to be dropped at the Sleepers restaurant in Hoedspruit where we will meet you.Own transport -

    If you have your own transport available you are welcome to use it, I can send you a map with directions to the farm OR we could meet up in town.
    We have been going for more than 16 years now, and have a very structured setup, making sure you are safe and looked after from the moment you arrive in South Africa to the moment you leave! Even if you miss your connecting flight, we have friends and contacts that can look after you – just keep us informed!


    If your plane arrives too late to get this shuttle on Saturday morning, you will need to arrive a day earlier from your country and spend Friday night in Johannesburg. We have a great connection with Blue Mango Lodge, where Stevie will take good care of you with accommodation, discounted rates and free airport transfer.

    You can also stay overnight at:

    Backpackers Connections Cameron is responsible for reservations which include Phone, email and online bookings. John and Ray back him up when he is off over the weekends.
    The best way for bookings is to email Cameron on info@backpackers.co.za or call him on +(27) 11 903-3059. We do take bookings online too, but the easiest is to email.
    Pick up and drop off from and to Johannesburg airport available at extra cost.
    We are located in the middle of the bush and so the camp is rustic, although we do our very best to make sure everyone is kept clean, comfortable, and well fed. You will enjoy hot showers, running water, and solar-powered lights in your traditional chalets. You may be sharing your chalet with up to 4 other volunteers but everyone has their own bed and space to store clothes and personal items.

    Laundry is done for everyone each day, with the exception of Sunday, and the rooms are cleaned every day.

    Living and working with us is very safe. Our camp is fenced in and the farm is in a protected area. You won't need to worry about crime while staying with us and we take precautions to make sure that our staff and children are safe from the predatory animals.

    Our wonderful staff provides us with healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner 7 days a week. We also cater for vegetarians.

    Tea, coffee and juices are included in our rate. Any extra drinks like sodas or alcohol are excluded and can be bought onsite.
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