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The good, the bad, and the Bushwise

This blog was written by Bushwise student Brandon Leong. Each week, students take turns as camp manager to experience what it’s like to run a lodge or a team. Writing a blog is part of that process.

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It was Monday, February 20. The week before was long and hard, with rain pouring from every direction. I spent the weekend preparing myself for what was to come. The day finally came when I had to saddle up and say yippee ki-yay! I found my predecessors and applied all the lessons I learnt from them as I took over the role of camp manager. As I received the radio, I felt the responsibility rush over me like a sudden gust of wind on an open plain.

There’s a new sheriff in town

The author of this blog, Brandon, holds a radio while wearing a cowboy hat and a homemade sheriff’s badge.

So, there I stood, radio in hand. Looking at those around me before declaring: “There’s a new sheriff in town!” The camp knew that everything would be alright under my watch, and all was calm. Everything was running smoothly until a critical moment came. News of some outlaw by the name “Cyclone Freddy”, whirling its way towards us via the Indian Ocean, came to my attention and I knew that I had my work cut out for me. My fellow students and camp dwellers were the top priority and so I tried my very best to keep the morale high. We managed to reach the end of the theory part of this Bushwise rodeo, which was a milestone worthy of celebration. 

We continued drives early in the mornings and afternoons on our metal steeds – the Mahindra and Land Cruiser – venturing out into the bush to find ourselves some critters and majestic beasts. We took it in turns to hone our guiding skills and intuition in the field.

My turn came and I had to give my “guests” something to remember. I had spent nights hitting the books, gaining knowledge of the environment that I hoped would serve me well. Seeing the smiles on their faces after the drive was a reward in and of itself. The pride I felt watching each one of us grow not just as guides but as people warmed my heart.

The threat of Cyclone Freddy still lingered in the air but help came in as we received a delivery of sandbags that I allocated to each of the rooms. The camp had to band together now more than ever to fill the bags in preparation for what might still come. The feeling of comradery amongst this group of field guides was inspiring. 

The adventure of a lifetime

The author of this blog holds up coffee carafes, which he has prepared to share with other students on the Bushwise Professional Field Guide course.

Since starting my journey of becoming a field guide, I’ve unknowingly stumbled into the adventure of a lifetime! What I thought would be a course about mammals, birds, plants and bugs, quickly became an experience that revealed hidden strengths about myself. Parts of my personality have begun to blossom and grow. My confidence has reached new heights

Becoming camp manager is usually a rather stressful situation as you are the one the camp depends on for everything. However, diamonds form under pressure and while comfort zones are comfortable places with familiar feelings, nothing new ever grows there. Stepping up into a leadership role was always something I’ve wanted to do and being given the opportunity to do that and find out what I am really made of has been life changing. 

My only hope is that all of those that come after me look back and use my experiences to inform their duties. And I hope they grow as much as I did in this wild and exciting environment we have come to call home.

Grab life by the horns like Brandon, when you join a Bushwise course. Have the experience of a lifetime while gaining new skills and having incredible experiences. Apply today!

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