It was a Cape Leopard Trust New Year's resolution to give the campsite at Matjiesrivier a little TLC and so it was that four of us (myself and three teenage home school students from Kommetjie) headed out on the hot and bumpy ride into the rugged red Cederberg Mountains. Armed with pangas, baked beans and a hardcore attitude we disembarked at the newly named "Toktokkie Camp" (so called after the Psammodes striatus variety of beetle that frequents our poplar grove) and almost fell over from heat exhaustion. The next few days were to be packed full of real, olden day, character building, hard work which the three sixteen year old boys took on with a fair amount of enthusiasm.
Starting the first day with the moving of three massive trailer loads of river sand into the camp made only slight scratches on the spirits of these adolescents and the concreting, varnishing, beam cutting and painting that followed resulted in nothing more than flesh wounds and nothing less than an enduring sense of comradeship.
Us older folk were extremely grateful to have the young bloods assisting us in our tasks especially with the painting of our corrugated iron roof which was of such a surface area that only a light and nimble teenager brandishing an extended paint roller could rise to the challenge - thank you Tristan (for weighing so little). Chipo and Duncan also gave much of their time and energy to the cause and helped us mix and lay concrete for our new sink and set large poplar support beams for our canopy as well as many other tasks. Sincere gratitude to you all!
Duncan and Tristan painting the roof | Matthew and Chipo unloading sand
After the youths had left it was up to Quinton, Elizabeth and myself to complete the numerous other detailed bits of work that remained unfinished. Luckily we were contacted by a regular volunteer, and were thus assisted by the skilled and experienced hands of Jurg Studer, a retired Swiss tour guide from Porterville, who darted around the campsite with various tools making sure that doors were hung properly and had decent latches, that storage in the shed was organized and efficient (a brilliant cupboard for the NLDTF sponsored Hi-Tec Boots at last!) and that there was a place for everything and everything was in its place including his beautifully customized and instantly recognizable, bright yellow Landrover. Thank you Jurg, what a pleasure to work with you!
Quinton and Matthew setting up the new solar panels
We are very pleased to say that we have now fitted the campsite with a proper solar power system, which we look forward to using for all our lights and hopefully our fridge as well.
As January came to an end we all started to feel like it was time to dust off the hands, stand back and to see what we had achieved - and what a beautiful new campsite we saw. We are ready for a new and busy year and Toktokkie Campsite is ready to impress! To find our more about our environmental camps email firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Matthew Dowling, CLT environmental educator