What: Physical challenges, Maasai people, and West African wildlife
Who: Teens of all genders going into 9th – 12th grades who are physically resilient and love adventure.
When: June 15-24
Where: Nairobi, Merrueshi, and Amboseli National Park
Counselors: Jay Waltmunson, Kymber Waltmunson, and local guides (see counselor bios here)
We will arrive in the bustling city of Nairobi ready for a good night’s rest. After a restorative breakfast we’ll visit orphan elephants in the care of the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. Making our way south to Maasailand, we will arrive in the village of Merrueshi, home to the amazing Maasai Simba Camp. The camp is a protected island in a wildlife migration path and a nighttime water source for giraffe, zebra, and thousands of other species.
The Maasai are a tribe that lives much like their great-grandparents. Community comes first and everyone helps and supports each other to thrive. The Maasai are semi-nomadic; herding cattle and goats across the West African landscape. Staying alert, strong, self aware, and protecting the community are warriors’ responsibilities.
The warriors will share the skills and ritual of becoming a warrior. Spear throwing, wrestling, lion hunting skills (no lions will be harmed), medicinal plants – all with safety top of mind, of course. Sunrise behind the iconic acacia trees will guide us on morning walks in the bush with the warriors and our cameras. Our warrior guides will show us how to track shy animals like porcupines and day-sleeping hyenas. We’ll be able to tiptoe near giraffes, zebras, and wildebeest since we are silent on foot. The warriors’ eagle eyes always find the animals first, but they will show us how to observe like a warrior.
Back at camp we will have conversation and art circles with the community. With Maa translators we’ll be able to ask the elders about anything we want to know about their culture and view of the world. These amazing men and women have seen so much change in their lifetimes but hold tight to tradition. Their wisdom deepens our understanding of the world and their culture as it is increasingly touched by climate change, technology, and other outside influences. The women will tell us about their lives, ask questions about ours, and show us some of their amazing bead-work skills. We will have the opportunity to buy some of their art to celebrate our warrior learning and for our families.
What are the basics of the trip?
- Stay at Maasai Simba Camp
- Daily walking safaris and animal tracking
- Train with Maasai warriors
- Wildlife photography in Amboseli National Park
- Conversation circle with Maasai elders
- Make traditional Maasai jewelry with the women
- Work at a local school
What is included in the price?
- Spending money
- In-country transportation
- Activities and local guides
- Tips for local service providers
- Contribution to local school and health clinic
What is not included in the price?
- Trip Insurance
- Transportation to/from your home airport
- Camera (recommended): Bring your own camera if you have one. If you are looking for recommendations, see our post here. If it’s an issue to procure one, let’s chat!
Is there financial aid or scholarship available?
We are currently building our scholarship fund. See our financial support page here.
What about technology?
With the exception of cameras, we are a technology device-free camp. Phones and other wired devices are an incredible distraction from the world around us. They can have an especially negative impact when we are trying to immerse ourselves in a new culture. It keeps us at arms length from our experience and from one another. We wrote a post on teens, technology, and travel that explains more.
Feedback from campers has been that they are glad they didn’t have their phones! They say they feel more connected to each other, their surroundings, and even that the days feel longer with so much more that they are taking in.
What resources are provided?
We’ll guide you every step of the way. When you’re all signed up we’ll help you with passports, vaccination processes, packing lists, reading lists, trip insurance, and will coordinate a traveler meeting. We’re available at any time to answer questions.
As a parent, you’ll get daily photographs of our experiences so that you can see and hear about all the fun your child has been having. All counselors will have cell phones as well, should an urgent matter require communication.
For your camper, we provide all logistics to make this an amazing trip. Transportation, translation when needed, great activities, introductions to locally vetted and established guides, dietary food accommodations, and anything else that’s needed. We also have a system of group journaling to help us process our experiences, build relationships, experience our destination more deeply, and craft stories for our return.
We always bring a professional photographer along on our trips so you’ll get to freely download amazing digital photos of your child’s experience and you can purchase prints from the website if you want them in hard copy.
Interested? Got questions? Let’s chat!
If you want to talk anything over with Jay or me, please contact us and we’ll be happy to answer questions and describe anything in more detail.
If you need references, we’ll gladly give you some contacts. We’d also encourage you to peruse the rest of the blog to get a sense of our values and how we travel.
Let’s go far and travel deep!
Kymber & Jay