“You never know what you have until it’s gone” – My NJ MORE Experience
A cliché saying that applies marvellously to the situation I find myself in now, reflecting on the last six months as the course comes to an end. I sit and think of all the new things I’ve learned and how I’ve grown. As a girl who was raised with a love for the bush (and thought she knew all there was to know about it) being able to expand my knowledge has been an unforgettable experience.
I arrived at the college, fresh out of high school, with only a vague idea of what to expect. This was my first real taste of independence and I have loved every second of it. The valuable life skills that I have gained during the duration of my time at NJ More is unbelievable, The course is jam-packed with various modules and short-courses relating to Africa and it’s wildlife. From the excitement of Wilderness First aid to the fast-paced Specialist Birding, I found myself falling in love with the smaller aspects of the veld.
One activity that stands out was our snake-handling course where we were shown various snake species and how to handle them in a lodge/camp environment. There was an opportunity to hold one of the snakes and the facial expressions around the room were nothing short of hilarious. A few of the students had the rest of us in stitches. Each short course that we participated in brought us closer as a group and each one comes with a mountain of memories. The external and internal trainers do their best to impart their knowledge of the FGASA syllabus in combination with their practical experience and provide in-depth interpretations of what we study and train to do as Field Guides. The hours spent on game drives and in the lecture room have been equally informing and beneficial.
However, it’s definitely not all work and no play. The warm days spent swimming in the river and the breath-taking sunsets at Fish Eagle Dam are some of my personal favourites. The downtime spent watching David Attenborough documentaries in the Rec Room as an excuse to nap was some of the best sleep I’ve ever had, and there’s nothing like some friendly competition of an intense Pool match on Braai night with Taylor Swift pumping in the background. The scene of Phil holding court, whisky in hand, conducting “Beat The Intro” will long stand in my memory and provide hours of enjoyment.
Being able to step out of your comfort zone and spend half a year with completely new people of all ages, beliefs and walks of life to share a common passion is something that very few individuals dare to do but it is something that I can highly recommend. I have made a lifetime worth of memories with a group of friends I will never forget.
Thank you NJ More, I will cherish the time I have spent here forever and always.
– Kaylyn Mackenzie