Nicholas School Internship Blogs

Second Half of Summer Camp
by -- July 9th, 2011

Time is flying by – the second week of summer camp is already over!

We have just wrapped up our second, and final, Wild Week of the summer. As I have already written about the activities on the first few days of camp, I will fill you in on what happened in the latter half of the week.

Students in the middle of the trust walk.

Students in the middle of the trust walk.

One of the goals of these camps is to improve leadership skills; therefore, Sam, Neo and I all gave leadership lessons on Thursday. These lessons culminated in student-led project planning sessions. The ultimate goal is for the students to bring these project ideas back to their villages and then to implement them through their Wildlife Clubs. The kids have a lot of great ideas and passion, and I look forward to seeing their projects come into fruition. To learn more about the dynamics between leaders and followers, we also did ‘trust-walks,’ where one student led a group of blindfolded kids through a short obstacle course. It was interesting seeing the different techniques used by the different groups, and all the students made it through successfully.

Friday was ‘Culture Day’ – a time that students learned about the cultural traditions of different Tanzanian tribes, as well as of other countries. Some of the employees here talked about their tribes, and I, as well as some other non-Tanzanian guests, covered some Western traditions. We covered 6 (of MANY) Tanzania tribes, the US, Ethiopia, Australia, England, and Norway. Needless to say, it was an enlightening day for all of us. Topics such as dress, food, livelihoods, marriage customs, and coming-of-age traditions were the main themes.

Tarangire Park boundary from atop Ngahari.

Tarangire Park boundary from atop Ngahari.

As part of the day’s activities, we also climbed a local hill called Ngahari. The view from the top was incredible, and you can see the boundary of Tarangire National Park (a mere firebreak that allows open passage of animals between the park and the Maasai land). The Park is on the left of the picture, and land belonging to a game reserve is on the right. A group of village elders climbed the mountain with us and told the students some of the cultural history of the area (an experience in itself, as the tales had to be translated from Kimaasai to Kiswahili to English). I think it was really important for the kids to hear about the history of their land from a place where they could see exactly the places the elders were talking about.

We also had a wonderful surprise this week – a group of Maasai did a traditional dance for the camp. There is no real way to explain it in words – you will just have to wait for the video to be posted once I am back in the States. As a teaser, picture a group of very tall men in traditional dress, standing in a circle, producing guttural, rhythmic noises. Then, one at a time, the men move into the center of the circle and jump as high as possible, ending with a loud foot slap. It was really quite incredible and like nothing I have ever seen before.

The students and elders on top of Ngahari.

The students and elders on top of Ngahari.

In addition to learning about cultures and cultural geography, students were given a medicinal plants lesson. The Maasai have a wide range of plants from which they derive medicines for ailments – from colds to digestive issues. One of the elders who works at Noloholo took the children on a medicinal plant walk to show them what trees, as well as what parts of the trees, can be used for what purposes (one of which was the Oloisuki tree that my cold medicine earlier this summer had come from). Finally, before they left, the children created “My Book of Trees” with parts of all the medicinal plants that they brought to show their families.

Now that camp is over, Noloholo seems awfully quiet, and, incredibly, we only have 5 more weeks here! Next on my plate is going over the camp evaluation methods we experimented with, as well as working with Neo to write up a camp curriculum…wish me luck!

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