Winners from this years’ art competition entitled ‘Predators of the Cape’ were all treated to an environmental camp in the Cederberg in November. This time of the year is when temperatures are meant to be hot…
We had 19 participants consisting of talented young artists and their friends. A few young artists from Die Coetzee Ateljee in Piketberg had already been on a prize camp with us earlier this year but this did not stop them from being excited for yet another camp! That is what the Cederberg does to people, it has the ‘I will come back factor’ because there is just so much to do and see in the Cederberg.
As soon as we were in the mountains and on the gravel roads, I switched off the music in the bus and created space for the serene beauty to take over the entertainment. I could instantly feel the excitement from the group and I wondered if they knew that what lay ahead of them would be two days of pure enjoyment and endless exploring.
After camp orientation and setting up our tents we took a drive to Stadsaal where we had a look at the famous San rock art, the group learned about the history of the area whilst taking in the magnificent views. I like prompting the groups to think about what it would have been like living back then, as a nomad living off the land. The children absolutely loved exploring and climbing the rocks and venturing into some of the dark sandstone caves. It was difficult to drag these children away from the rocks because they loved it so much. The next day had its own big adventure, we climbed the Wolfberg cracks and we went the adventurous way – through the thin crack! The children performed better than the adults in the one tricky part in the crack but everyone eventually made it through. It was very cold up at the top and we could still see a snow dusting on Sneeuberg peak from the snowfall the night before. Even with the extreme conditions and challenges that this hike brought, there were no complaints or disgruntled participants, everyone did very well that day. Riëtte, our intern had been hoping she would get to climb Wolfberg during her time in Cederberg and finally she did.
We visited Truitjieskraal in the afternoon for some more exploration and rock art. I got the young artists to draw their own rock paintings, this was a very cool exercise to do and a brilliant way to connect with nature and the area.
We found one scorpion that night on our night walk, this one was hiding under a rock but we could see its luminous pincers poking out. Seeing scorpions under the UV light is always a hit with the groups and it is a sight none of them will forget anytime soon. On our last day we went to check the camera trap up the river but unfortunately we did not get any pictures this time, we were hoping for that leopard that has been regularly visiting the river just up from the campsite. We did see many tracks of various other animals including Genet. Speaking of Genets, we have a resident Genet that visits the camp-site at night and leaves tiny paw-prints all around the kitchen and near the bins, obviously hoping to find abandoned morsels of food.
It was sad to leave the Cederberg but I have no doubt that this camp prompted some new drawing ideas, new memories, new passions and new friends! I would like to thank the volunteers who helped with supervision and the very important task of cooking – Thank you Pierre and Bianca Jordaan, Saneeya Adams and Caroline Gill for your support and help with this camp, thank you to the participants for entering our art competition and for helping to spread the word about leopards and other animals. A big thank you to Bridgestone who sponsored not just all the costs for this camp but for everything from the framing of the artworks to the calendars that will be coming out in January next year. Without the sponsorship from Bridgestone, the art competition and the Prize camp not have been possible this year!