Your sons and daughters are finished matric…so now what? The party ends, the dust settles and reality sets in. If your kids are seeking a different kind of career and life path, then perhaps it’s time to consider Southern Africa’s finest bush skills academy.
Usually one of four things happens. 1. They continue to study in the formal sense (university, technikon etc.); 2. They sit around the house in their underwear while watching television; 3. They get a job of some sorts, usually of the menial variety; 4. They attempt the traditional model of leaving home to travel Europe or pull pints in a UK pub.
How you support them and the next move you make as a parent in supporting or guiding them can have long-lasting effects on your child’s future and overall happiness. The approach of our parents – get a job, do 40 years’ service, receive a gold watch and retirement – is no longer always an easy fit. Force a youngster into a collar and tie desk job and they will wear it like a ball and chain if they’re not suited to the office-style 9-5. As you’ve probably worked out by now, not everyone is designed to work their way through Excel spreadsheets and skinner around the water cooler. You’ve got to try and do what you love.
Even the travel option is no longer so attractive due to the global economic downturn of the last few years. Economies across the EU are struggling and it’s harder and harder for young South Africans to take the kind of working gap years we used to assume as a right of passage. Take the UK where the locals are just as desperate for work, even the kind of work that was usually left to visiting South African, Australian and New Zealand youth. Add to that the influx of hard-working Eastern Europeans flowing into the UK and it makes sense to relook the options for the post-matric abyss.
There’s an undeniable urge to leave the nest for many young school-leavers, but with the traditional options less attractive, trying something hands-on in your own home country – yet not at home – becomes an attractive alternative.
Bushwise’s 2013 field guiding courses kick off in January and July and could prove to be the launch pad for an exciting career in the bush for your child. And it’s worth bearing in mind that while most industries are struggling across the board both locally and across the world, tourism is growing in South Africa because as a country we are blessed with magnificent natural resources. If your child has a deep love for the outdoors, working with animals, an aptitude for working with the environment and people, then steering them towards the kind of field guiding Bushwise can offer is a smart option.
One of the best field guiding schools in the business, Bushwise’s course give aspirant Field Guides the necessary skills and FGASA (Field Guides Association of South Africa) accreditation for a career in the bush. Whether your son or daughter opts for the six-month or year-long course, both of which provide theoretical and practical learnings delivered by qualified guides and environmentalists, the process will forge their raw enthusiasm for the environment and turn them into skilled, capable young field guides ready for employment. And if your kid is not a new matriculant, but has instead been out of school for a few years, tried the traveling thing and is at a loss for the future, Bushwise is still a good bet. In fact, with the industry having a minimum acceptance age of 21 for placements in reserves, perhaps your child’s two or three years of post-school wandering will work in their favour.
But make no mistake, this is not a holiday camp. Bushwise is a fully accredited and run by seasoned industry professionals. From essential bush skills like 4×4 driving and rifle handling to bush knowledge (flora, fauna, animal behaviour and tracking etc) Bushwise’s field guide training also offers students exposure to dangerous game. While that may petrify parents, it will equip students with the kind of comprehensive preparation required for anyone looking for a career in a Big 5 game reserve. For the year-long course students, Bushwise will find placements for them with partner lodges or research venues for the six-month section of the course that gives them the career headstart to their bush CV.
Forget throwing your child to the critters of the concrete jungle and the global village and talk to them about a potential career in the South African bush.
For more on Bushwise Field Guides and their courses, visit www.bushwise.co.za.