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My experience managing a Bushwise camp

Each week a Bushwise student acts as camp manager, ensuring that everything runs smoothly around campus. This blog was written by Flora Molepo, a student at our SAWC campus, during her week as camp manager.

3 min read

Wild dogs near camp

A wild dog bounds down an open dirt road, all paws off the ground as it moves quickly. The dog looks like it’s floating above the surface.

On Sunday Heidi came racing to tell me that there were wild dogs on an impala kill close to the fence line. I was in the kitchen getting ready to start my camp manager duties when she told me this. I shut the kitchen door and left everything behind as I ran after Heidi because I was so eager to see the wild dogs we had seen on Saturday morning the day before. 

After learning that the impala had already been destroyed by the wild dogs and that the kill was close to the tents, we realised that we had arrived too late. 

A pack of wild dogs on a dirt road. One dog lies closer to the camera, the rest are behind it and are all piled on top of each other, playing and rolling around.

When we arrived on the scene, the impala’s hooves and bones were all that the wild dogs had left behind. Sad we missed them, I returned to my duties as camp manager.

Gaining skills as camp manager

The author smiling towards the camera, wearing her khaki Bushwise uniform. Behind her is a lush green landscape with trees.

Being camp manager this week taught me how to manage problems while meeting people’s needs. Being a manager involves not only assigning duties when they need to be done, but also being trusted with them, completing them and directing others to do the same. 

Colin Patrick and his daughter Samantha Patrick visited us over the previous two weeks . They were leading the track and trailing course, which I found very interesting. This training improved my capacity for observation in the bush, taught me how to locate animals while leading clients, and explained why animal behaviour is crucial when tracking. 

The importance of problem solving and creative thinking

A group of Bushwise students with Colin and Samantha Patrick, learning track and sign at the Kempiana Bushwise campus. 

In order to offer tea and coffee on our game drives, we have to pack the hotboxes twice daily for morning and afternoon excursions. It was my job as camp manager to make sure that the visitors had coffee and tea, so I produced a list of who would be responsible for cleaning and packing the hot boxes for the day. I assigned the responsibilities in pairs to make it fair and simple for everyone. 

Of course, I included my name on the list because, as a manager, it’s important to set an example. The guests always had their tea and coffee, but once the milk was forgotten and occasionally the water as well. However, this was not a problem because we took action to fix it. One lesson I took away from this training was to always come up with a plan and, even if it’s challenging, make it work.

As a Bushwise student, I’ve learned that people are unique in the ways that we perceive the world. Being camp manager this week has taught me to pay closer attention to the needs and desires of others, how to fulfill them, and how to lead others by delegating fairly and respectfully. 

Being camp manager is a big responsibility, and a great way for Bushwise students to learn what it’s like to be in a leadership position at a lodge. This experience is important as students gain new skills for their future guiding careers. Learn more.

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