Posts tagged YouthEmpowerment
De Hoop Collections Community Outreach Camp
Identifying and naming new finds.

Identifying and naming new finds.

Cape Winelands Biosphere Reserve has co-facilitated and collaborated with organizations to arrange camps for youth from many different areas and backgrounds. Below is the recollection by a CWBR guide of a memorable camp. It was the first of its kind at De Hoop Collections, as part of a local outreach programme instigated by the De Hoop Collection guides, who had themselves already taken part in FGASA and Life Skill courses.  

De Hoop Community Outreach Camp June 2019

Recognising the CWBR bus and trailer approaching, the young girl increased her pace. She was still on her way to school with her bags for the weekend camp. As we pulled the bus into Nuwerus Napier Day Care Centre, her speed increased to meet us, as did her excitement and the size of the smile on her face.

To make a weekend camp possible, CWBR provided transport and equipment to De Hoop Collections, within De Hoop Nature Reserve. The camp was for 15 young people (aged between 2 and 14) and 2 teachers from the Day Care Centre. The principle of Nuwerus Napier Day Care Centre is herself a graduate from the first CWBR FGASA & Life Skills Guiding course. Before attending the course, she worked at the Day Care Centre as an assistant, and later at De Hoop Nature Reserve as a guide. However, feeling her deep conviction to make a difference in the lives of vulnerable young people in her community was not being fulfilled, she returned home to Napier and to the Day Care Centre.

Arriving at De Hoop, we were greeted with a magnificent view of the ocean, bright pink Protea repens and a wonderful welcome from the resident guides. They were anxious to get to know their young clients and prepare for the first camp activities. Without hesitation, the young people leapt on to the game-drive Landcruiser to go to the campsite. The sun would be setting soon. There were tents to erect and meals to cook.

That evening, the Team (Centre teachers, De Hoop guides and CWBR representatives) built a big fire in the middle of the boma and laid out a long table to seat everyone. They made a potje, and with an evening of games and great laughter, the young people were introduced to De Hoop, the Team and the weekend ahead.

Next morning the group rose early brimming with excitement to explore their surrounds. First, they ate a healthy breakfast at the long table and cleaned up to leave nothing for the baboons. Whilst CWBR made and cooked burgers for lunch, the group headed off for their first adventure – a walk around the inland lagoon.

The walk gave an opportunity to watch hundreds of Dung Beetle grubs. There were sightings of giant Ostrich and many Bontebok. We watched great Pelicans and many other coastal birds diving for fish close to us in the lagoon. In the distance, clearly visible with binoculars, Flamingos displayed their pink beauty. The wonderful sights at the lagoon kept the group fascinated until it was time to head off for the rocky shore tour.

Being transported from inland adventure to seashore by game-drive vehicle - the group was thrilled! The principal guide for the seashore walk is a seasoned professional at De Hoop and has become a hero and role model for the young people of Napier. He and his colleagues explained some of the rich and diverse forms of life on the rocky shores.  They discovered many creatures of all colours and shapes previously unknown to the group. A lucky find was an Octopus! Along the walk the group collected rubbish washed up on the beach and learned what happens when we pollute.

When we reached the sandy beaches, the urge to swim overcame inhibitions and the children splashed in the shoreline of the ocean. Returning to camp, the group warmed up with cups of tea.

With energy levels revived, the group put together ingredients for that night’s meal and headed, with their guides, for the protection of the boma. As the food was cooking, the group was introduced to the night skies – an experience enhanced by the arrival of marshmallows for the fire.

Packing and a hearty breakfast feast followed an early rise and shower next morning.  The group set off for another short adventure, which enabled the remaining guides and CWBR staff to discuss our work together, share experiences and learn from each other. It was a great opportunity to show off and test individual skills and knowledge.

Saying farewell to our hosts and colleagues was hard. Nobody wanted the weekend to end. With great joy, appreciation and fond memories, we waved goodbye to De Hoop and headed back to Napier.

Back at the Centre, we said our goodbyes to the principle and her colleagues.

Many thanks indeed to all who made the weekend possible, especially the wonderful people of Nuwerus Napier Dagsorg.

Using binoculars and cameras throughout the camp to see and document the animal and plant life

Using binoculars and cameras throughout the camp to see and document the animal and plant life

The beach was a highlight for most, with discovery of new creatures, fresh saltwater and sand.

The beach was a highlight for most, with discovery of new creatures, fresh saltwater and sand.

Experiencing new environments and textures.

Experiencing new environments and textures.

CWBR supports the Paarl Canoe Development Team

Six youngsters from the Paarl Canoe Development Team participated in the Berg River Canoe Marathon from 11 to 14 July 2012, one of the most grueling and well-known canoe races on the Western Cape Canoe Union racing calendar.

The event, held in 1962 for the first time, covers a distance of 250 kilometres starting in Paarl within the borders of the Cape Winelands Biosphere Reserve (CWBR) and ending in Vredendal in the West Coast Biosphere Reserve four days later - making The Berg the longest canoe river race in South Africa.

The Paarl Canoe Development Team was founded in 1996 by Robin Graves. The programme initially started out with youngsters from a swimming club, but soon children from nearby farms saw this activity and started joining the programme. It grew rapidly in popularity and Paarl Rotary, the Western Province Canoe Union, and Bridge House School started supporting the programme. Soon youngsters were doing so well that they were entering and participating in some senior river races such as the Berg River Canoe Marathon, Breede and Fish River Marathons and the Dusi in Kwa-Zulu Natal.

It is clear that canoeing has given these youngsters the confidence, self-esteem and pride to stand up and achieve not only on the water but in building a future for themselves. In 2002, Robin handed over the coaching to one of the seniors who had excelled in this programme and now ten years later, Wayne August continues to further develop the programme as a full time coach. As a development programme there is, however, a continuous need for support to upgrade equipment, supply clothing and support through finance.
The Cape Winelands Biosphere Reserve, proclaimed in 2007 as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, became aware of the needs of the Development Team and with its focus on conservation and development saw an opportunity to support this team in its preparation for the Berg River Canoe Marathon. With 98% of the rivers in the CWBR classified as threatened or already on the red list, the CWBR aimed at using the event as a platform for creating awareness of the importance of clean water sources and education.
As this project uniquely runs through the borders of both the Cape Winelands Biosphere Reserve connecting with the West Coast Biosphere Reserve at the coast it has been branded as one of the first Biosphere Reserve to Biosphere Reserve projects, a collaboration between the two Biosphere Reserves.
With the support of Dr Kevin Winter from the University of Cape Town (UCT) the Team collected water samples throughout the race, which was then tested and monitored after the race. The six members of the team met with children from the neighbouring farms each afternoon during the race to explain to them the importance of clean water sources and to demonstrate to them how to monitor the water. In addition to education, it is also the first time since 2001 that the Development Team had branded team uniforms and branded gear for the race. This project will be run on an annual basis, with water samples being taken each year and will also be rolled out to include other races in the area. The CWBR is proud to be associated with this very successful project. 


1) To support local dedicated community youth sportsmen and women.
This was achieved with a total of six paddlers, two support crew, and many supporters following the first branded development team for 10 ten years. The team spirit was commented on by many spectators and a follow up program with local schools is in the process of being developed, driven by the paddlers and local teachers who are seen as role models within the communality. The water testing component and involvement of UCT gave great credibility to the project and developed pride amongst those involved. There was a feeling amongst the canoeists of “doing something worthwhile for our Community”

2) To enhance awareness of the CWBR and the CWCBR 
This was achieved by both the branding of uniforms and the vehicles together with banners and information at all prominent points. The sending off of the team by the mayor also achieved recognition by the press, as did the podium positions and the resulting press coverage, and television.

3) To link co-operation and marketing of the Biosphere
This project was jointly undertaken to link the two neigbouring Biosphere Reserves in the Western Cape, the CWBR and the Cape West Coast Biosphere Reserve.

4) Support development and eco tourism along the Berg River
Francis Steyn  from Sustainable Resource Management: LandCare, Department of Agriculture  Provincial Government of the Western Cape, contacted us at the end of the race, as he had seen the team collecting samples and is a keen paddler himself.

This has led to discussions about
1)      How can we develop, with all role players, a mechanism to start improving the quality of the water
2)      Create awareness amongst the public and the landowners of the importance of water quality
3)      The clearing of alien vegetation and replanting of indigenous trees along the Berg River. This is in progress along small portions and is proving very successful. The Biomass collected is machines into brickets.
4)      Developing a super trail from the source to the mouth of the Berg, similar to the Eden to Addo, and several others overseas that are much longer and very popular.
5)      Engaging with the farming community to form nodes of good practice. Cultivation in the flood plains and chemical leaching are just two of the immediate issues to be looked into.

5) Create awareness of the importance of water quality and that seven rivers have their source in the CWBR
The collection of water samples along the river caused a lot of discussion amongst the public and the paddlers. Many people asked about the project and requested results. UCT have analysed the results which are disturbing. The challenge will be to put a program in place that is positive and has positive outcomes. It must not become a witch hunt but rather an identification of the pollution sources and a concerted effort to find holistic solutions. We need to engage with local and international organisations in this process.

6) Develop a youth program to monitor water quality.
Although we did have some success, it was marginal due to a lack of human resources. However contact was made with teachers from local schools that are now determined to make this happen. We will pursue this over the next year and have a concise program in place for next year’s race.