Learning from the land

| October 14, 2011 | 0 Comments

On 8 May 2011, Kamoka Bush School officially opened in Limpopo, outside Modimolle (Nylstroom). It’s a two-and-a-half hour drive from Johannesburg to this outdoor education facility, owned and operated by St Stithians College. Kamoka is a Pedi word meaning ‘all’.

In building the Kamoka Bush School, St Stithians College now gives all of its learners – and those from other schools – the opportunity to spend up to 20 nights at a time in the bush. The concept of outdoor education is not new to St Stithians College (the Girls’ College has run a 17-night bush school since 2003), but taking the decision to open and run our own facility was a brave, new step.

A bush school of our own A number of factors played a part in the desire to establish our own bush school. These included the need to have more control over the running of the camp, a strong urge to lengthen the time of the camp experience (without parents incurring additional costs), and a wish to expose more learners from the college to extended periods of time out of the city.

With the support of the Rector and the Council of the college, we started exploring what it would take to open our own facility. The biggest stumbling block was financing a piece of land that would be large enough for a bush school. After expressing our dream to the parent body of the school, we were very fortunate that one Saints family offered us the use of 500 hectares of their 3 000 hectare game farm in the Waterberg.

Once we had the offer of land (and great land it is – well situated and home to a variety of game), we then had to put a budget together, which detailed building as well as running costs. After countless presentations and meetings and almost three years of planning, we were given the green light and building work could start at Kamoka!

Breaking ground in the Waterberg We broke ground on 1 February 2011 and welcomed our first group of learners to Kamoka on 8 April 2011. Thirty-one eager senior students spent a week at Kamoka carting building rubble, doing roofing, breaking down walls, varnishing doors, putting up fly screens and more. They even had to attach their own toilet doors and did without shower curtains for the week – what troopers!

Building at Kamoka presented some unique challenges. Due to its location, we cannot access any municipal services and are completely self-sufficient – relying instead on solar and wind energy, a back-up generator, and borehole water with solar pumps and septic tanks. We also had to rely on a local unfamiliar work force and local suppliers, which made the build more challenging. Certain hazards had to be overcome, such as getting a crane on site to place the water tanks, digging into very rocky ground and using generators for any electrical tools. The result, however, is that we have a completely self-sufficient and ‘green’ facility, which offers fantastic learning opportunities for our young visitors.

Category: School Travel, Spring 2011

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