The Children’s programme is designed to entertain the children, while teaching them about the bush and the wildlife we share our lives with.
Leading the programme is Gaone Ratsoma, together with a team of Mashatu rangers. Gaone has the benefit of two years on Disney Cruise Liners out of Fort Lauderdale in the USA, and as a result has extensive knowledge of children’s entertainment. Many of the games designed for this programme originated at Disney World.
Children are at all times supervised by a responsible manager and/or ranger while participating in the programme, whether they are within the confines of the camp or out in the bush.
The Children’s programme is geared for children aged 4–12 years. Activities depend on the time of year, and the number of days the children will be staying in camp.
Each child is given a Mashatu backpack containing an interactive checklist, bird colouring book, coloured pencils and sharper, a compass and thermometer.
Each child is given a poster of an animal with photos and facts about the animal. After studying the animal, the child then explains the specifics of his or her subject to the rest of the group. This fun exercise expands the child’s general knowledge, while facilitating relationship building and encouraging interaction between the children.
Who am I?
An animal poster is pinned to the child’s back. He or she then asks the children in the group simple questions like “do I have horns?” or “do I have scales?” – questions that can be answered “yes” or “no” – to get clues to help to identify the animal.
An armed ranger takes the children on a short walk around the Main Camp area, where they are introduced to the different plants and trees, birds and their nests, and other things they may encounter. There are also taught how to track animals and identify their spoor and droppings while out in the bush.
Should parents want an evening out at the boma, their children can be accommodated. A delicious children’s dinner is served followed by a wildlife video screening in the recreation area.
Interactive “animal-building” exercise
Children learn the difference between carnivores and herbivores by studying the skulls of various animals in the Discovery Room. They are then given the opportunity to build an animal using a selection of bones; at the same time learning how the bones fit together and what each of the bones is used for.
Botswana has a rich cultural history, and this activity is designed to teach the children about the inhabitants of the country and area, as well as the ancient cultures that walked the plains thousands of years ago. Children will learn to make their own stone tools, ostrich and land snail beads and clay figurines from termite mound clay – in the tradition of those bygone cultures. This is a great play session – prepare for very dirty children!
There is no better way to get clean than to wash off in a swimming pool. Children are entertained with a variety of pool games, including “hippo polo”, under the diligent supervision of one of the camp managers.