By Cedric Strickland (National Youth Committe)
The primary goal for this trip was to train and inform members of the National Youth Committee about the new Junior Ranger (JR) program, this being P&C Regional coordinators as well Honorary Rangers Regional Facilitators, then to do the same if time allowed for other P&C staff and Local Honorary Ranger Facilitators.
The trip began on 12 August and ended on 27 August 2008.
The first stop was with the Diamandtveld HR region in Kimberly on the 12 August.. Chairperson Dudley van Rensburg arranged for the Junior HRs to meet at his home where a stay over was also planned. We planned to start at 2pm, however, due to traffic and road works the day started an hour later. Dudley and one of his members, Sakkie attended. We discussed both the Junior Ranger and Morula Kids and also gave them a list of JRs that are on the Groenkloof database, as well as a CD with all the required information.
After a good night’s rest and good HR hospitality, we moved on to our next appointment with Angela Isaaks, Regional Coordinator for the Arid Region whose office is in the Augrabies National Park. We had a good trip, enjoyed the Northern Cape landscape and scenery. We arrived earlier than expected for the meeting, so we had lunch. On arrival, we were greeted by some quiver trees and the “warmer” climate. Angela was very pleased to have guidance and input into the Junior Ranger program, to such an extent she has invited Wilna Pretorius, the Regional Facilitator for the Arid region, to join her at the P&C Imbizo for the Arid Region, to talk on Junior Rangers. Wilna will be addressing P&C staff and educators from the region. Lynne discussed the Morula Kids program. Afterwards, we took a walk to the falls, and then made our way to our accommodation, at a lovely B&B just outside the Park.
We left at six the next morning, 14 August, to go to Laaiplek on the West Coast, as we would be staying with family. The approximate 900km journey was quite tiring, but the beauty of the landscape captured our thoughts and attention for some of the way. After a braai of fresh snoek, the beds were calling. We were in Laaiplek for 2 nights but had scheduled a meeting with Mercia Reiker of P&C, West Coast National Park and Pam Rutlidge and Barbara Tudor from the HRs. The West Coast P&C Board Room in Langebaan has the most amazing view of the lagoon and possibly has one of the best views in the country. The process and discussions were now following what was becoming a normal pattern. The info and encouragement was well received and all were happy. Some time after the meeting was spent at the West Coast National Park experiencing the park and admiring the flowers.
We rose early the next morning for our rendezvous in Paarl with Mike and Beverley Moll, Boland HRs. Mike, aided by Bev, had just taken up the challenge of being the Regional Facilitator for the Cape regions. We spent most of the day discussing his role on the NYC, the junior program and Morula Kids. Late that afternoon we had a walk in historic Paarl and met the sexton (koster) of “Die Strooidak Kerk,” who opened the old church for us to have a look.
It was now Sunday morning of the 17th and we made our way to Somerset West. Monday was TMNPs turn for being briefed. On route we visited the penguins at Boulders. We met Mark Hawthorne, TMNP, and Raj Rajkumar and his team (Raj, Moira, Claude, Crissila) iKapa HRs, at the Rhodes Memorial offices. We explained the process and gave them the CD, also answering their many questions - this was wonderful, and very encouraging. We also discovered that TMNP has a large capacity for young people to visit the park.
Tuesday was admin day, to catch up on paper work, and emails - Lynne for the coming NEC and Chairpersons meetings, and myself the NYC “stuff”. We now had one day to rest. Family suggested we visit Kirstenbosch, which we did and thoroughly enjoyed.
Thursday again saw us up early, as we were to meet with Carli Venter, Bontebok National Park’s manager, on route to the Wilderness National Park. Bontebok had started a Junior Ranger group in Swellendam, but the P&C staff member who was facilitating this group resigned, and she was concerned. Lynne and I again explained the process, and gave some ideas as to managing the group to Carli and Vishalla Singh, a GVI volunteer. The receptions we had been receiving were wonderful and Carli and her staff kept up the trend.
On Friday and Saturday we had 2 meetings each 11 hours long (NEC and Chairpersons meetings).
Sunday, the 24th of August, a 9am meeting was held with John and Peggy Aube’ (Tsitsikamma local facilitators as well as John being the Garden Route and Frontier regions Regional Facilitator), Lynne from the Southern Cape HR region, Elzette Bester P&C Regional coordinator for the Frontier region and her GVI volunteer. We again discussed the process and had good input with regards to the JR Indaba in 2010.
Now off to Kareedouw to enjoy some more HR hospitality for the evening and next morning. On the morning after breakfast we left for Addo Elephant National Park for a meeting with Temba Mangcaka, Frontier Parks Regional coordinator, and Wendy from Addo. There were discussions of the group of JRs that had started in the Karoo National Park.
Another early rise to leave at 6 to travel over 900km to Golden Gate National Park. We again travelled longer than expected again due to road works, etc. and booked in at the Park, where we were to meet Sandra Taljaard and her team the next day. It is always a wonderful experience as you drive between the mountains and are met just outside your chalet with a breathtaking view.
On the Wednesday morning our meeting was at 8am, but we arrived 10 minutes late because we did not expect our car window to be frozen up - one forgets it gets very cold at Golden Gate National Park. Our meeting, as we by now expected, was well received and we again explained the process. We also discovered that there are large communities living close to the park, and this gives us a large challenge with regards Junior Rangers and Morula Kids. Sandra and her team have already got plans in mind to meet this. We also discussed the proposed JR Indaba planned for 2010, to coincide with the HR Indaba.
After this meeting we travelled home - it is always good to get home!
Our achievements for the trip:
Met with the following P&C Regional Coordinators:
Met the following P&C staff:
Had a meeting Carli Venter Park Manager Bontebok National Park.
Met with the following members of the NYC (who are also Regional Facilitators):
Met with HRs from the following HR regions:
We had the privilege of paying a visit to the following parks -albeit some of them very briefly:
Met with the following Chairpersons/Regional representative for brief informal meetings at Chairpersons Meeting:
CDs with the new JR program/system where given to all the Chairpersons or Regional representative, of regions that had not previously received one.
Other achievements from a Youth and P&C liaison perspective:
A large amount of information was exchanged; many geographical areas to the West and North West are now ready to start or restart JR groups and have been informed about the Morula Kids objectives.
A good relationship has been established and in some places reinforced, as we already had a good relationship. The fact that SANParks and HRs are one, came out on more than one occasion. Everybody we met showed a willingness to work together, on one occasion we where told “we are a team aren’t we?” I have received calls from SANParks staff as to how to go ahead, what was decided, etc.
We received good input with regards to future planning, i.e. next year as well as the 2010 Indaba. It was very good to experience the existing good working relationships between HRs and SANParks staff.
I had the opportunity of meeting with 6 members of the NYC (4 from P&C and 2 from HRs). I was able to discuss certain concerns and also bringing them up to date with new developments.
Regional Facilitator Wilna Pretorius has been invited by Angela Isaaks, Regional Coordinator of the Arid Regions, to introduce the Junior Ranger program and also train prospective new facilitators. This is to happen at the P&C Imbizo for the Arid region in November.