CITW returns to North Island after two years


The children and their hosts in a souvenir photograph

For the first time in their lives, the children were able to see the wonders of North Island that had previously been out of their reach. Their screams of delight and laughter could be heard for miles as they were propelled into a world of luxurious fun and educational activities from December 11-14.

“I feel like I am the luckiest person on earth,” said Julia, one of the girls. “I wish all my friends could experience this adventure.”

“It’s not everyday one gets a chance to live on such an island, it’s a dream come true and from the bottom of my heart I would like to thank all those who made this a reality,” said Deje, another member of the group of 30 children who had been presented with this rare occasion to discover new things and live their dream.

Eight guest villas were put at their disposition to offer an authentic camp experience. The children particularly enjoyed the afternoon dip in the swimming pools as well as dining each night in the island restaurant where they had healthy, exquisite and delectable food.

This year the programme was specifically designed to increase the children’s awareness of the history of the island and its function as a Noah’s Ark project, protecting vulnerable species and inspiring a passion for the environment. At the same time, the programme aimed at developing life skills necessary to actualise every child’s potential and restore their sense of hope and pride as well as build their self-esteem.

Most of the children who attended the CITW camp are currently involved with the NCC living values programme.

For the organisers, the objectives of the camp had started to bear fruit as they could recognise Junio Racombo among the North Island team. Junio was a member of the 2008 CITW North Island camp and the professionalism of the staff, their friendliness and sense of well-being had inspired and motivated him to work hard at school and then apply for a job there. Junio was visibly excited to see the happy faces around him and the atmosphere transported him back to the days when he too had enjoyed the tranquillity, the luxury and the activities that would be taking place which included singing, dancing, tree planting, team building, tug-of-war, and lessons on how to resist peer pressure and say no to drugs and alcohol abuse.

Half-way through the camp, the children were graced with the visit of Education, Employment and Human Resources Minister Macsuzy Mondon, who is also the chairperson of the NCC board.

Mrs Mondon was accompanied by Jeanne Simeon, the principal secretary in the Vice-President’s office. They were flown in courtesy of Zil Air and one could see they were visibly moved by the warm welcome extended to them. Mrs Mondon spoke on behalf of the government and expressed her appreciation for this kind of initiative which had life-changing impacts on children’s lives.

Bruce Simpson, managing director of Wilderness Safari Collection, welcomed the children to North Island and assured the minister, the NCC and long-time partners of the company’s continued commitment to this programme.

The company’s intention is to ensure this is an annual event on North Island and with the continued support and professionalism from the NCC, and the generous help from Mason’s Travel and Zil Air, North Island is excited by the opportunity. This being the fourth CITW camp on North Island, the company has hosted 126 children to date and offered 378 bed nights. It forms part of a larger initiative by the management company Wilderness whose CITW initiative extends to seven southern African countries where they operate and in the last 10 years have hosted 4,065 children and allocated the equivalent of 23,510 bed nights to the CITW programme

The three-and-a-half day camp was filled with memorable experiences for the children as they were doubly lucky this year. Mason’s Travel had put their new catamaran – the Anahita – at the children’s disposal for the journey to and from the island and the children could enjoy a pleasant boat ride on a really calm sea.

They were also lucky to be able to observe a sea turtle nesting one afternoon on East beach and to crown it all, on the final day of camp just before their departure, they danced with joy to the chant  of ‘Chica racka chica boom’ as they watched 19 sea turtle nestlings head out to sea and ride the waves.

As usual when time comes to leave camp, both children and adults shed tears. All have made new friends, and all have learned new lessons and have had an unbelievable amount of fun in the process. Everyone takes with them their own cherished memories and every child dreams of returning to North Island one day.


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