Great Plains has introduced its “Young Explorers Program” and “Student Conservation Camps." The initiatives, which combine a variety of educational and fun-filled activities for safari guests aged six up to 15 and the children of the local community alike, are part of Great Plains’ ongoing commitment to nurture the conservationist-explorers of tomorrow.
Available across all of Great Plains’ camps in Botswana, Kenya and Zimbabwe, the “Young Explorer Program” is the tourism-conservation organization’s family-friendly offering that combines fun with conservation learning. Upon arrival at camp, each child will receive a Young Explorers pack with everything they need to become a conservation ambassador. The pack includes an activity book full of exciting information including animal tracks, flora, fauna and star facts, word games and a safari journal.
Throughout a family’s stay, Great Plains’ staff and guides adjust the scope of activities to suit children’s ages and interests to encourage them to explore the bush and wildlife. These include guided bush walks to find smaller local creatures and learn all about plants, bugs and more while seeking out tracks and decoding the daily behavior and routines of wild animals. Active adventurers will have the opportunity to head out on a Kenyan horseback safari, canoe down Botswana’s Okavango Delta or Zimbabwe’s Zambezi, spotting wildlife as they go, or indulge in a spot of bush cricket.
Back at camp, a world of entertainment awaits, from Young Explorers massages, manis and pedis at the Bush Spa, and traditional bracelet making to movie nights and cooking-in-the-bush lessons. An array of specially tailored menus featuring little ones’ favorites, besides plenty of snacks, mocktails and other refreshments will be offered throughout the day.
Alongside their young overseas guests, Great Plains is equally committed to developing the next generation of conservationists at home in Africa. Through its “Student Conservation Camps,” one of Great Plains’ longest-running philanthropic programs, Great Plains Foundation works with local students and teachers both in their communities and in Great Plains’ camps to provide environmental and conservation education.
Hundreds of local children have benefited since the “Student Conservation Camps” began over 10 years ago. The initiative offers multi-day programs throughout the year that move classes outside of the classroom and into the Great Plains camps, which are open exclusively to youth on those days. Students are given themed assignments, complemented by field studies, where they observe and engage with their ecosystems—with the support of mentors, conservation experts and safari guides. Through discussions, tasks and social activities such as sports competitions and games, the students establish close connections with the professional environmentalists. In doing so, the children experience positive examples from local professionals who have chosen a profession to help preserve this fragile ecosystem—in the hope that they will also develop a passion for protecting the bush and animals.
Conservation education offers an opportunity to introduce the young generation to nature at a crucial time in their lives. Great Plains and its Foundation believe that through thoughtful engagement, environmental education, fun and mentoring, children and youth worldwide and in local communities can learn to love the uniqueness of African origins, appreciate them and make a sustainable commitment to protecting the planet.