The Spirit of the Wild Programme or Spirit of the Wild offers a one-to-three-week wildlife, guiding and leadership experience that awakens each participant’s pathways of knowledge, belonging and purpose. It is a profound personal and leadership skills development journey that reconnects people from all backgrounds with the natural environment. In the 21st century, many of us have lost this connection, which is the lifeline to our shared humanity, our collective well-being and the achievement of our full potential.
In 2012 the Field Guides Association of Southern Africa (FGASA) endorsed Spirit of the Wild as a Specialist Training Provider and Certificate Programme. The range of graduates is remarkable: from young people who grew up in squatter camps with no previous experience of the natural environment to the Chief Executive Officer of the FGASA. Participants from financially disadvantaged programmes can apply to attend at no cost. Bergplaas’ international partners are highly supportive of this.
In 2016, Spirit of the Wild celebrates its 10th anniversary. The programme accommodates groups of up to 18 participants at a time, either for the one-week programme or for the three-week certificate programme, completed in three one-week sessions over the course of a year.
The diverse range of participants includes:
The wildlife and personal development skills that participants gain through the Programme and the inner and outer journey they experience on Bergplaas Nature Reserve, include:
This triggers a growing connection with self, a trust in self, a confidence in and acceptance of self, which, in turn, nurtures the ability to lead and share the knowledge, relationship- and communication skills they have gained.
All participants on the Spirit of the Wild Certificate Certificate Programme experience these gains, irrespective of whether they are pursuing a career in the conservation sector or are part of the global corporate world.
Short courses and one-year internships for Nature Conservation students from Nelson Mandela University, the Tracker Academy, the SA College for Tourism and other partner institutions. The Tracker Academy trains disadvantaged, unemployed young men in the traditional skills of tracking. The SA College for Tourism offers a one-year tourism and hospitality certificate course to disadvantaged, unemployed young women.
Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) is the largest University in the Eastern Cape, the province in which Bergplaas is situated. Many of the students at NMMU are from financially impoverished households and the only way that they are able to achieve a university education is by securing loans, scholarships and bursaries.
Bergplaas and the School of Natural Resource Management, NMMU George Campus, have developed a strong partnership since 2011 that was formalised into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in 2016.
As part of this MOU Bergplaas offers:
Bergplaas annually selects the third year practical year intern from the second year group.
The Spirit of the Wild Programme annually hosts two groups of eight students from the Tracker Academy for a one-week Spirit of the Wild training programme on Bergplaas. In addition, Bergplaas annually hosts two hospitality graduates from the SA College for Tourism, and one tracker graduate from the Tracker Academy respectively, for a one-year internship.