“Given the dire need for sustainable thought and action in order to create the future that our planet and its communities desire and deserve, the simple truth is that environmental education should be a top priority for all young people. We hear every day about a new or different threat to South Africa’s incredible natural heritage, from climate change and rising poaching levels that threaten to wipe out entire species, to a national and international water crisis that, if left unchecked, has the potential to wreak massive environmental, social, and economic devastation.
To succeed in addressing and eventually reversing these environmental crises – which there is no doubt we must – we have to build solutions on the foundation of education. Our country desperately needs a new generation of environmental leaders and champions, young people who recognise that building a better tomorrow begins with protecting and preserving natural resources today. More importantly, we need the next generation of South Africans not only to understand the many challenges we all face, but have the knowledge, insight and will to lead the way in finding innovative solutions to address those challenges.
Lapalala Wilderness School is helping to nurture this vital new generation of environmental leaders by exposing large numbers of our country’s youth to the wonders of nature and instilling in them a deep desire to protect that wonder and restore and rebuild the land’s once vast natural capital.”
“There is a good reason why Lapalala Wilderness School has enjoyed the stellar growth that it has over the past 30 years. While you may think that growth and success is a result of the incredible and often life-changing programmes the school offers, or the opportunities it offers young South Africans to develop their environmental knowledge, these are not the main reasons for its success. While Lapalala Wilderness School certainly does all these things, the real reason it has enjoyed such phenomenal growth is that it is offering our country’s youth something they desire – an opportunity to truly reconnect with nature.
The results of having this opportunity are nothing short of spectacular. So many of the children and young adults that attend the programmes offered by this unique school leave Lapalala transformed. More importantly they take with them an acute awareness of the responsibility they have to protect, nurture and grow the earth’s abundant natural wealth.
Considering this immense impact that Lapalala is having on our country’s youth, it could be argued that calling it a school was something of a mistake. Yes, this is a place of learning, but it is so much more than that. It is also a place of discovery, of unforgettable experiences, and for many, it represents a moment in which they discover a calling to go beyond existing in the world, but rather to be instrumental in changing it for the better.”
The American president Abraham Lincoln said: “The philosophy of the schoolroom in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next.”
If he was right then we believe that the work we are doing at Lapalala Wilderness School could transform the way our country is governed in the future by raising leaders who understand the importance of nurturing biodiversity and who put environmental sustainability at the core of their political, economic and social strategies.
Lapalala Wilderness School is an educational institution like no other. It uses the total environment as its classroom to deliver learning which has the potential to create lasting change in both learners and the world in which they live.
The positive influence we are having is reflected in the growth of the school since 1985 when we opened our doors and welcomed just over 800 children and educators. We offered 58 courses. By 2015 we have more than tripled those numbers with over 3000 learners having experienced the life-changing transformation that results from a visit to Lapalala.
We believe that a number of the young people who attend our various courses will become agents of environmental change not only within their families but in their communities, South Africa, and the world.