Photo: Supplied.

Tsitsikamma - The Tsitsikamma National Park is a hive of activity as it plays host to 500 pupils for five weeks as part of its Kids in Parks Programme. 

The programme, in its fourth week, has seen the park host close to 10 schools from around the Eastern Cape so far.

This year participating schools include Coldstream, Storms River primary, Paul Sauer (2 farm schools), Nooitgedacht, Bo Plaas, Joubertina, Clarksen/Amamfengu, Kareedouw Primary, Woodlands, Tsitsikamma Laer, Johannes Primere and Lily’s Bush.’

Speaking of the programme was Tsitsikamma People and Conservation officer Nobulumko Gantsho who explained that the programme was interactive with a chunk of practical work out in the field.

 "This year, we roped in the Natures Valley’s Trust to focus on the rocky shores as part of the Programme and SANParks scientists on fynbos," she said.

Pupils also get to interact with nature, experts, rangers and volunteers and are accommodated in the De Vasselot camp in Natures Valley during the duration of the programme as a way to get them to experience staying in a national park.

Although this is a drop in the ocean considering the number of learners who are in the Eastern Cape who have never visited a national park in their lives, Gantsho explained that the park tried to engage with as many schools as possible and has "eco-schools", campaign days celebrations with various schools and invites and facilitates a lot of schools programmes.  

"The Kids in Parks Programme is unique because it’s curriculum-based, opening up the outdoor classroom the Tsitsikamma section of the Garden Route National Park is. Through practical demonstrations, the learners are able to see for themselves what is written in textbooks," she concluded.

The Kids in Park programme is funded by South African National Parks (SANParks) and the National Department of Environmental Affairs.