From a coco pops box to a game drive vehicle. Leanne tells the story of her son’s school recycling project.
I was doing some Tanzania research for a client one evening. Just then my 7 year old son, Jayden came into the room: “Mommy.” He said, his big eyes shining in excitement “We have a project for school.” “That’s exciting.” I responded. “What’s the theme?” “Transport” came the reply. “And it has to be made out of recycled goods”. I immediately relaxed as I envisioned quick solution: an empty coke bottle with some toilet roll inners attached to the side and a coat of paint. 10 minutes later and we would have a great rocket. Unfortunately my son had other ideas.
Jayden’s eyes flicked onto the screen where he saw a stunning photo of a cheetah and game drive vehicle in the background. “I want to make one of those” he says. “A game drive vehicle -those things are awesome!”
Needless to say, my heart sank. I knew I would be in for a testing time trying to make a coco pops box and some ice cream sticks look anything like a game drive vehicle. But he was determined. Truth be told, I was actually quite happy with his choice. Some of the best times in my life have been spent on the back of game drive vehicles. Hours of driving through beautiful scenery taking in all the sounds and sights. All with an underlying excitement wondering what might be behind the next rock or up the next tree. I am glad he shares my passion for the African bush.
The Game Drive Vehicle build begins:
The school had given us three weeks to complete the project. Each day we’d look for items that we could use. We’d talk about all the things that a game drive vehicle needs to make the experience wonderful for guests: Spacious seats, blankets, a coolbox for drinks, a seat for the tracker…
And so our imagination got us going. A combination of match sticks, ice cream sticks and glue were used for seats. It was especially fun watching Jayden make the tracker seat at the front of the game drive vehicle. “It’s very important for the tracker to be able to look ahead to search for animal tracks.” I was told with a serious expression. A dental floss casing was reinvented into a spare fuel tank. Some left over felt was cut and folded as blankets to be placed on the seats. “Because an early morning or night game drive can be a chilly experience, you know.”
A sponge that used to polish shoes became the cooler box. Jayden in his innocence believes the cooler box is only for water, but any adult who has been on a game drive vehicle will know that a sunset in Africa without a GnT or ice cold beer to wash down the biltong is not quite the same. But for the sake of the project we will leave him believing it is only for water.
The roof was crafted from a polystyrene food container with kebab sticks to hold it up. This would shade guests from the hot African sun. A spare tyre is essential because of the huge thorns and uneven terrain. A spade was made from toilet roll and a matchstick for in case the vehicle gets stuck. A match stick ladder was built for easy access to the high back seats. And last but not least , straws were used as the bull bars to protect the body of the vehicle.
Jayden and I chat excitedly about the things I have seen and experienced in the bush on a game drive vehicle and I excitedly share some of the facts I have managed to retain. I am looking forward to when he is older and he can go with a guide who knows the bush intimately and can share knowledge of even the tiniest creatures.
On D-day our beautiful creation was carried off to school, very carefully, for marking. Jayden has always said he wants to be an engineer like his Dad but as I walked with him to his class he said: “You know what mommy I don’t want to be an engineer anymore, I want be wildlife guide so I can have a game drive vehicle like this one.” I smile down at his happy face, I would be happy with that career choice … I wonder if his dad will feel the same.