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Paul Newman would be very pleased with the development of Children In The Wilderness (CITW) camps – not only because it was his idea behind them, but because they are changing the lives of some of southern Africa’s most vulnerable children.

A project of Wilderness Safaris Wildlife Trust, the camps host impoverished children who have lost parents to the AIDS epidemic or other disease. At the camps they are brought face to face with the fascinating world of the local wildlife and receive environmental education. In the process they gain awareness and a sense of responsibility which the environment would presumably benefit from in the future.

For most of the year the camps are filled with tourists, like Paul Newman and his family many years ago while travelling in Africa. That’s when he got the idea. Now, selected camps are shut down to paying guests for a few weeks per year and opened up to children for the CITW project.

According to their website, “guides and managers serve as role models to these children, showing them how their own hard work has led them from similar backgrounds to high achievements. They also show the children how important it is to keep a firm hold on one’s cultural roots.” Wilderness Safaris’ goal to present a life altering experience goes beyond their guests and the hundreds of children that attend their camps each year.

One guide, Sebastiaan Meyer, who elected to work at one of CITW’s camps last December in Sossusvlei, Namibia, is looking forward to the next series. “For one week I got to see things through the children’s eyes,” he said. Giving the children insight into this pristine wilderness, exploring the wonders of nature and the children “brimming with excitement” was more than rewarding to Sebastiaan. “It was life changing.”

Paul Newman would be pleased. Wilderness Safaris Wildlife Trust is.

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