Se7en Salutes Our Rangers on World Ranger Day…

During July our country celebrated Madiba Day, a day when the whole country joins together for at least 67 minutes of service to the nation. I believe that our country desperately needs help and there are no limits when it comes to opportunities to serve. That great vibe that South Africa generates on Madiba Day can actually carry through to every day. Often when folk hear that you volunteer their first thought is that you must be working in soup kitchen, you could be, but realistically there are millions of other ways to volunteer. There is no doubt in my mind that there is something for everyone to do, we just have to look around for the right thing to do.

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For the last eighteen months or so I have been volunteering to help train Junior Rangers in our local National Park. I love hiking with kids, so this works really well for me. July 31st is World Ranger Day… and a good time to write a post about what Junior Rangers do. The Junior Rangers that I work with are a widely diverse group of high-schoolers, from all over the wider Cape Town area, that are learning how to be Park Rangers one day.


On Saturdays a bus collects the kids near to their homes, and brings into the park where they will learn about the environment, work on assignments and experience the great outdoors. These children come from very diverse backgrounds, some may spend their vacations in Game Parks, and some have never been to a Game Park before ever. While their backgrounds may be different, they all have a passion for the environment and conservation. Months of hiking and working on projects alongside each other brings them together to work as a team.


The most exciting times for me are definitely showing kids things for the first time… what is just a regular walk for a seasoned hiker, could well be the first time any of them have seen an ostrich or a bontebok… truly exciting times!!!


A lot of hiking and gaining experience, projects to help them learn about the environment they want to be working in one day, interacting with different types of Rangers, and doing beach cleanups and preparing displays for visitors, cleaning whale bones for display (some jobs are smellier than others!). Learning new ways to get around and monitor the park… there is a lot to learn.


It’s not all a grand adventure, sometimes it is standing in a shopping mall on a Saturday morning… sometimes it means painting a school or an old age home… community service is part of the role of a Ranger, after all.


Rewards for hard work, like camp… I am guessing most people wouldn’t want to jump on a bus with 40+ teenagers and head out into the wild for a weekend away… I can think of nothing better… especially if it means night hikes…


And saving Cape Leopard Toads…


Other rewards like getting up long before dawn, to take the kids on outings to totally different places…


And the annual camp to a Game Park further afield…


I get to look out for kids as they sleep under the stars, I get to sweep bugs out of the bathroom, and remove unusually large spiders from bags. And there is always one child with a passion for snakes who will bring one to show me specially…


It is a slow and steady process… month after month it all adds up…


Discipline is required to be a Ranger, and Junior Rangers learn this, not just by getting to the bus on time in their uniform, but from other skills they are also learning, like remembering all the scientific names and habits of local plants and animals, the knowledge is somehow absorbed…


Respect is learnt and earned…

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It is a load of fun, it is a grand adventure and it is hard work… I love it.


These kids are inspired by the great Rangers that work in our National Parks, they may not all grow up to be Rangers one day, but they will all take with them a love of the great outdoors and an attitude of “How can I help?” I reckon that that is a great start for any school leaver to have in their back pocket.

4 Replies to “Se7en Salutes Our Rangers on World Ranger Day…”

  1. Hi! The Junior game ranger program sounds wonderful. Do you know if the program or something similar also operates in the Stellenbosch/ Somerset West area?

  2. Hi Lorraine, It is a fabulous programme, for really committed kids. I am really not sure about your area, I will try to look into that for you and get back to you soonest. All the best.

  3. sounds like a lot of fun. Maybe something my daughter will enjoy when she is old enough.

  4. Hay Sanna, so glad you stopped by!!! This is a great opportunity for kids who want to work in the great outdoors one day!!! Hope you have a fabulous weekend!!!

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