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Prepared, excited and now a Bushwise graduate

BY Brody Merles, Bushwise graduate

Camp manager blogs are written by our current students who each get a chance to lead and manage a group (of their fellow field guide students) for a period of one week.

I could almost smell the nervousness of my peers coming into one of the most important weeks of all our lives. It was finally the week we had all been working so hard towards, practical assessment week! It was finally upon us after a well needed off-week, which I’m completely honest probably should have been spent glued to a good book on animals of the Savanna biome. 

Bushwise graduates enjoying some much-deserved off time in Kruger National Park, having fun and practising their guiding skills.

Instead, it was spent perusing the tree lines of Kruger National Park for any kind of fascinating life we could find – learning is so much more fun when it’s done practically! It was a week filled with excitement.

One-by-one, we all gave our best versions of a game drive that would hopefully blow the beards off our assessors’ faces (well,  at least my assessor’s magnificent beard) and one-by-one we were nailing it! My personal game drive ended up being the most fun I’ve ever had. Probably because I decided that morning that as long as I have fun and enjoy what I’m doing all my guests can feed off that positive energy and have a blast. 

A wild dog in the grass in the Limpopo region of South Africa.

This past week turned out to be a very productive one and has given me a completely different view of myself by showing me that I can actually achieve my goals and dreams. This week has also done wonders for my self-confidence (possibly a little too much, but hey let me have this one).  

All my friends that played a massive role in getting me to this point also have made gigantic leaps in their own ways, which really does give me that warm fuzzy feeling inside. It feels like we’re a big happy Bushwise family, even once we’re Bushwise graduates.

Bushwise students at the beginning of their course on the Southern African Wildlife College Campus.

One of the most crucial lessons I’ve learnt, not only over the course of this week but the entire course thus far, is that everyone is different in their own way. This really means that we bring a different perspective to the overall work space. Instead of avoiding these perspectives, ideas or personalities, we should rather incorporate everyone’s personality into the family dynamics (dysfunctional, weird and crazy aspects as well). 

I found out I really enjoyed trying to get a chuckle out of the trainers with a well-timed joke here and there, whether it be a joke for Darryn or asking Francois a pointless question just to see the funny faces he would pull. Riaan was a gold mine of jokes that were carefully hidden by his professionalism. The dynamic personalities of everyone around me made for the best five and a half months of my life.

Bushwise students looking at a dirt road, practising track and sign for their evaluations. 

As the last day of being around these people and new found friends fast approaches, I have been feeling conflicted with my emotions. I look forward to being home with my family and friends, but then the realisation of leaving all these new found friends leaves me wanting to relive the last half a year over and over again. 

All this time I thought I was doing this course to become a Bushwise graduate and qualified Field Guide. I never thought I would end up leaving with so much more than just a qualification. I’m leaving with the experience of a lifetime, filled with memories with some of the most incredible and amazing people. 

Bushwise students from the SAWC campus celebrate at graduation. 

In closing, for anyone that may be on the fence about whether the leap or not, it’s worth it. I can assure you that it is without a doubt worth it. 

I can’t emphasise how invaluable this journey has been for me. Yes, it has been a lot of work and it has been stressful at times. But it’s been worth it for this feeling of triumph at and the friends made along the way. And of course because of the beautiful sunrises and sunsets, and the incredible animals we got to see.

Wouldn’t it be great if you never worked another day in your life? Through a career in field guiding, this could be you. Apply today to join Bushwise and start your wild career journey.




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