Children in the Wilderness (CITW) is an environmental and life skills educational programme that began as a result of discussions with actor Paul Newman in Botswana in August 2001. Since it began in Botswana in 2001, the programme has expanded into all our areas of operation, so that annual camps are now run in Botswana, Malawi, Namibia, the Seychelles, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Through a carefully designed educational programme, CITW focuses on the next generation of rural decision makers. Wilderness closes some of its camps for a week at a time and groups of 16 to 40 children between the ages of 10 and 14 are transferred into the respective camps for a period of five days at a time and given the opportunity to experience these wilderness areas and their wildlife. During camp the curriculum covers environmental education, HIV/AIDS and nutrition and life skills, and the importance of conservation. CITW strives to instill a passion for the environment so that the children can become the custodians of these areas in the future.
Approximately 500 children are hosted in camp every year but no less important than the camp itself is the follow-up programme which takes place, in the villages where mentors visit the children at school and home and continue the learning programme.
By bridging the divide that exists between communities and wildlife – in addition to engagement of the rural communities as true partners – the CITW programme ultimately contributes to the long-term sustainability of the Wilderness integrated ecotourism business model.