Why Nature is the Best Place for Your Kids To Learn

We loved the blog, Why Nature is the Best Place for Your Kids To Learn, from Londolozi and had to share it with you here… Written by Josephine Benecke, it reveals just why a wilderness like Londolozi in South Africa is the best classroom for our little ones.

Waldkindergarden is a word that was brought to my attention by my friend, Amy Attenborough. The definition is forest kindergarden, where school is always outside. More than 1000 of these schools in Switzerland and Germany have taken off. Children are taught to make fire and tools and they get dropped off and hike about a mile up to school. It doesn’t matter what the weather is like, school is always outside. Amy and I were talking about how fabulous this must be for the children and their development and how their senses are stimulated through this lifestyle.

Ranger Sean Cresswell uses the environment around him to teach one of Londolozi’s youngest guests. Apart from game drive though, we also have a Cubs den programme here at Londolozi, to keep young visitors learning and entertained.

The general consensus from parents and teachers of children in Waldkindergardens is that the children’s confidence, social interaction, creativity (ability to use natural resources around them as toys), physical strength and co – ordination is developed from a young age and stands them in good stead for future schooling. They’ve found that it has improved their concentration because they’re excited to pay attention to what is going on around them and helped to build their confidence because they’re encouraged to explore their surroundings by picking berries, climbing trees and building shelters.

Upon reading an article on Waldkindergarden it became apparent that one of the best way for kids to learn is outside – something we’re seeing with Cubs Den here at Londolozi too.

Jo Benecke, Cubs Den leader, draws in the sand at a bush dinner out under the stars.

Children who have to be encouraged and persuaded by their parents to join the outdoor activities on offer are at first reluctant but once out in the bush they end up having an amazing time. Numerous parents have mentioned how their child has learnt more in their short stay here than a month or two in school.

Throwing a ball to each other, in the extreme shallows of the river, on a warm winter’s day, encourages bonding amongst the kids immediately. They are a team. They realise this by seeing that how they throw the ball affects how their teammates are able to catch it. If they throw it short, their partners will be splashed with cool water. The result – a lot of giggling and smiles all round.

A friendly game of boules alongside the Sand River.

This is one of many examples where being out in nature with peers immediately enables one to develop an understanding of teamwork, coordination and spacial awareness. This is the start of understanding maths and physics in a sense – how far I throw the ball (maths) at what velocity (physics). Concepts that are not usually verbally taught at a young age but by the time they are, the kids will have already experienced the concepts of distance and velocity.

Other examples the children learn from are tree climbing, fishing, soccer and track moulding. The children improve their physicality and strength by climbing the tree, casting the line, running on the field and walking to identify tracks. They enhance social awareness by making space for peers, taking note of their peers’ whereabouts before casting, practicing sportsmanship and working as a team. They are also educationally stimulated when they work out the height of the different branches of the tree, the weight of the fish on the line, the length of the soccer field, or learning the sizes and identification of animal tracks.

Art time in the Cubs Den at camp. Children come to Londolozi from all over the world, which encourages kids to interact with and learn from many different cultures during their stay here.

Two Londolozi guests enjoy an evening sun downer on the banks of the Sand River.

At the end of the day one can see a golden glow on the faces of the children and hear the level of excitement of their chatter as they race to tell their parents of their day’s adventures. Although it may be a short visit to Londolozi, hopefully they will go home not only with some new skills and knowledge, they will also have an enhanced love for nature which we see shaping how they move forward in life.

A Sanctuary For Man and Elephant

It’s a story that has reached people near and far, because it speaks to the heart.

Perhaps it is because of the heart that we detect in them, the subjects of the story, the elephants of Africa, that pulls us in.

Perhaps this is what bonds the groomsmen, the carers of the herd living in the Camp Jabulani orphanage, with these gentle giants.

This is a story not without challenges, but it is one that has survived generations, of both man and elephant, and one that continues to change.

The 1st of April 2017 saw the launch of the new elephant experience at Camp Jabulani, in the Kapama Private Game Reserve of South Africa, after the decision was made to end elephant-back safaris.

We recently featured the launch in our blog, but wanted to share the lodge’s new video with you. Take a look at this cinematic show of the heart of Camp Jabulani below and find out more about the new elephant interaction here.


A Wilderness Experience With Heart

At least once in life we find ourselves faced with the question, Am I brave enough? Do I have what it takes? And sometimes, most times, the only way to find out is to take the leap…

One such time now faces the team of 27 who are about to embark across one of the most inimitable and isolated wilderness areas in the world, for six days, covering 360 kilometres – on mountain bikes.

My wimpy muscles twitch fearfully at the thought, but these adventurers are ready to trade safari vehicles and airplanes, their usual mode of travel, for dusty mountain bikes to complete the 10 year anniversary Challenge4ACause expedition through the rugged landscape of Namibia’s Damaraland Desert, from 15 – 22 July 2017.

Representing Relais & Châteaux in the challenge are Shan Varty and Anthea Boehmke (Londolozi), Paul Harris and Nicola Harris (Ellerman House), Julia Geffers (Relais & Châteaux Paris), and Hidehiro Kubo (Relais & Châteaux Japan). They will be joined by 21 other riders.

Those who have ridden before have called it one of the best wilderness experiences of their lives.

Cycling for as much as five to seven hours a day, they’ll pass through 2.5 million hectares of vast expanses, striking terrain and distinctive desert-adapted wildlife like zebra, springbok, oryx, giraffe, rhino, hyena and elephant. Along the way, they’ll arrive to a fully-equipped camp of tents set up by the support team, with meals and drinks awaiting and the odd lion’s call in the distance.

Beyond the natural beauty and sense of accomplishment (and panicky pulmonary palpitations… can lungs palpitate? This is definitely a good way to find out) of such an expedition, what is driving them is something more philanthropic, something tugging at the heart.

With the cyclists, suppliers and partners helping to raise funds through the event, proceeds from C4AC 2017 will go toward uplifting local communities, enriching lives, funding conservation projects in Africa, and making a tangible difference in Africa’s wildlife, landscapes, and people.

The projects supported by this year’s C4AC include many of those funded daily by our African and Indian Ocean Island Relais & Châteaux hotels and lodges, as well as the:

  • Save the Rhino Trust:  protects the highly endangered desert-adapted black rhino population in the Damaraland. This region is home to the largest free-ranging black rhino population in the wild. SRT has provided consistent patrolling and monitoring of black rhino over the last 25 years. Our contributions help fund their anti-poaching units.
  • The Wildlife ACT: The Wildlife ACT is a non-profit organisation whose main objective is to bring our endangered and threatened wildlife back from the brink of extinction. Their conservation efforts largely focus on the endangered black rhino, African wild dog, cheetah, and vulture populations; as well as threatened elephant, lion, leopard, and white rhino species.
  • Good Work Foundation: a South African NGO on a mission to unleash the untapped potential of millions of people living in rural areas. GWF aims to provide a world-class education and to lead a focused, achievable and digitally-[em]powered education model for rural Africa.

We will keep you up-to-date with the Challenge4ACause adventure as it unfolds.

Watch the Video…