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Midway through training: Assessments and anticipating placements at Bushwise

This blog was written by Becky Ladd, Bushwise Professional Field Guide student.

For the final week of semester three, Edward and I were the camp managers. This brings us to halfway through our six-month training with Bushwise at the Southern African Wildlife College campus. And what an epic three months it has been so far! I do not think any of us can believe that we’re already at the midway point, but they do say that time flies when you’re having fun.

Mock game drive assessments: A week of pressure and growth

This week was a very intense week for everyone, with a lot of pressure and stress hanging over the students, as this week saw us doing our mock game drive assessments to prepare us for our actual assessments as soon as we get back from our off week. 

We each had a 3-hour game drive to complete, with our trainer sitting quietly in the back row completing an assessment form, as opposed to them usually sitting next to us in the front giving us feedback and extra skills and knowledge throughout the drive. 

Discovering our unique guiding approaches

The author while sitting on the tracker seat of a game viewer, with the rest of the Bushwise students and trainer and track and sign expert Colin Patrick in the back.

This time, it was all down to us! All of us felt the difference in delivering our game drive like this, and we all felt the heat of the hot seat. But it was a great opportunity for each student to see where their strong-points are, and which areas need some extra polishing and revising during the week before our official game drive assessment. 

Everyone approaches the drive differently – some make a thorough plan and try to stick to it as much as possible; others choose to wing it and see what is found out there in the bush. Either way, now is when we’re really starting to see each person’s unique and individual guiding approach shine through, and it is awesome to see everyone really settling into feeling comfortable in the role of the guide.

Suspense and excitement: The awaited placement options revealed

The author Becky on a mock assessment drive as she explains something to her guests.

It has reached an incredibly exciting time in the course, as we are starting to hear about which placement options have been selected for us. It has been a suspenseful wait, and we now have many interviews to prepare for before we can say for sure where we will all be spending the next six months of our adventure.  Some students can already start preparing for a stay in South Africa, or even some moves to Namibia, Botswana and possibly even South America! 

It is going to be so fulfilling to see the friends that we have made go on to achieve some of their biggest dreams in life. Knowing that we have achieved it together, with the help and support of one another, makes it even more gratifying.

Looking ahead: Advanced rifle handling and trails guiding training

Bushwise students at the Southern African Wildlife College campus, standing in front of a well-known dam and watering hole with a windmill in the background.

We still have a very exciting two months ahead of us before our time at the Southern African Wildlife College comes to an end. Next semester, once our assessment drives are out of the way and we can officially call ourselves qualified Apprentice Field Guides (!), we begin our advanced rifle handling training. 

Rifle handling will involve more exams to ensure we have a thorough understanding of the laws and safety surrounding handling guns and their usage. It will also involve a lot of incredibly fun (and ever-so-slightly nerve-wracking) practical training sessions as we learn how to use rifles to protect ourselves in the bush – something which is incredibly important for those students wanting to move into trails guiding (which I think is a lot of us after the incredible experience we had with Colin Patrick on tracking and trailing this semester!)

I would like to thank Bushwise for the incredible experiences we have had so far, the overwhelming amount of knowledge and skills the trainers have shared with us, and each and every student I have shared the past three months with – for every student has added something special to make the course as brilliant as it has been. Thanks everyone!

Embark on an unforgettable wildlife training adventure with Bushwise. Enrol now to gain invaluable skills, immerse yourself in nature, and unlock a world of incredible opportunities.

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