10 April 2013

I&J Young Biologist Course – Camp

Katja Rockstroh

Last Friday, after the oral assessments were done, we were off to our campsite in Kleinmond, which is on the South Coast of the Western Cape. The programme, always the highlight of every YB course, was jam-packed.

Arrival at camp was swiftly followed by a game of touch rugby. We had not even divided the YBs into dorms yet, but where there is a lawn and a rugby ball, there seems to be a need for playing. All photos by Katja Rockstroh

After some chill time and a welcome lunch, Russell Stevens, head of education at the Two Oceans Aquarium, started a debate amongst the YBs. The topic was a housing development that is planned in an area where there is high plant diversity, including four species only found in this particular area.

The YBs were divided into three teams, the developers, the conservationists and people who would receive housing from the development plan. Mayur, one of the developers, delivered the winning argument. They decided that the best plan would be to go ahead with the development, but only if they work closely together with the conservationists and by building eco-friendly houses

Next up was a trip to the wetland at Kleinmond’s main beach. Khonzani Lembeni, our Aquarium teacher, and Bianca Engel talked to the YBs about the importance of wetlands, the little critters that live in a wetland (yes, they are there even if you cannot see them), and the valuable role wetland plants play

We stayed at the beach, looking at a sandy beach ecosystem, after which a few brave ones decided to get wet and enjoy the surroundings

The last item for Friday was a late-night rope trail that the YBs needed to get through silently and blindfolded, in groups. This exercise is to show YBs the importance of communication, leadership and teamwork.

Saturday was an early one, with our group arriving at the rocky shores by 7am.

The rocky shores on the South Coast are rich in different animal species, and many of the YBs were extremely excited to find all of the animals that we have been talking about all week
After breakfast, we were off on a hike to have a look at the fynbos that is found in this area and, of course, to get a great view of Kleinmond
Chill time is usually spent chatting or playing games, such as this one that is simply called Ninja
Luckily for us staff, this age group has endless energy, as there were no mumbles and grumbles when we went off again to do some snorkelling

A new addition to the programme is a beach clean-up. Since each YB is required to do a clean-up as part of their certificate requirements, we decided to introduce this aspect into the programme.

Alistair and Aaron busy ticking off the items they have found

The camp was finished off with an evening of concert items, where groups were instructed to do a short skit with environmental messaging. On Sunday, after a rigorous clean-up of the camp and teary goodbyes, we were back on the road to the Two Oceans Aquarium.

A big thank-you to I&J for the sponsorship of this Young Biologist programme. It is another great group of Young Biologists that will now join our volunteers at the touchpool and microscope. So next time you come and visit the Two Oceans Aquarium, go and say hello to our newest ocean ambassadors.

Stay in touch: for daily Aquarium updates, follow us on Twitter (@2OceansAquarium) and become a fan on Facebook.

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