Our Vision for the Programs
Developing Future Leaders
We believe that developing strong leaders is a top priority for Africa today. To get this country to move forward, people need to take a stand for what is right. Positive leadership models are needed to show that self-discipline is possible. Lasting Impressions intends to be a training ground for Africa’s future leaders.
1 Leadership Camps: For the past 13 years we have successfully run over 150 leadership camps for students from all over Zimbabwe and Botswana. The students have often returned to their schools with a whole new outlook on leadership. They have learned to focus on serving others and respecting their followers. This program is so vital that we are constantly improving the curriculum and training procedures.
2 Instructor Development: Staff training for all who work with the campers is essential. They receive practical, spiritual and physical training for each of the unique camps. Many of the instructors have gone on to be effective community leaders, teachers and pastors.
3 Men’s retreats: The men’s retreats have also focused on developing leaders in the home, the community and the work place.
1 Church Leadership Courses: There is a growing need to have pastoral and lay leadership conferences to encourage, challenge, train and uplift the church leadership of Zimbabwe. In the future we’d like to bring in speakers from all over to broaden the perspectives of how to effectively impact their communities for Christ. We intend to do this in a culturally sensitive manor but one that motivates the church leadership to effectively reach others for Christ.
2 Headmasters Conferences: The schools have a dramatic influence on the future of the country. Providing support and assistance for the leaders of the schools could have a tremendously positive impact. The campers of LI are primarily from Zimbabwe schools. To help the Headmasters know how to continue to support and encourage the children after they have left the camp is a Blessing and creates a Lasting Impression.
3 Certified Instructor Training Program: We would like to develop a formal 1-2 year program in which instructors develop skills in leadership, recreation, bush craft, public speaking, etc. We aim to have this become a recognizable qualification in Zimbabwe.
4 Pastors Retreats: We have several pastors that come to utilize our facilities for prayer retreats and just to have some time away either on their own or with their families. We provide the facilities free of charge. We hope to develop a lodge specifically for this purpose in the future.
Life Skills for the Emerging Generation
Young people should be excited about the future. They should have the support and encouragement from parents, teachers and friends to reach for the stars and achieve amazing things. Unfortunately, we are seeing more and more kids in Zimbabwe quite dismal about their futures. Many have lost one or both parents. (Remember life expectancy is 34 for women and 37 for men.) Some have one or both parents overseas trying to earn enough to keep the family going back in Zimbabwe. Many of the great inspirational teachers have headed to greener pastures. The young people of Zimbabwe are left with underpaid, unenthusiastic teachers with limited education. With the lack of mentors in the lives of young people there is a tremendous need to give guidance to students about the critical life choices that come when they are teens and emerging adults. Choices about moral values mean the difference between life and death for these young people. AIDS continues to run rampant in Zimbabwe. The World Health Organization says that a conservative estimate is that 1/3 of the population is infected with HIV. We want to help change this statistic. Young people need a chance to reach for the stars. We hope to provide guidance to make it a possibility.
1 Life Skills Camps: For the past 11 years we have run several Life Skills courses that have equipped young people with information to make wise choices, helped them develop relational skills, enhanced their self confidence, and challenged them to overcome fears so they could reach for great goals.
2 Relationship Talks in the Schools: For the past several years we have been doing presentations in schools about sex education. It is approached from the perspective that AIDS is a symptom of a bigger problem, the breakdown of relationships and values.
3 Building Balanced Lives Program: This is a new program that was started last year. It has been developed for all ages in primary school. The focus is building self-confidence, communication skills, team building, conflict management, etc. We have one particular school in Botswana that is sending all age levels to us every year to help their students achieve “balanced lives”. It is all done from a Christian perspective. This year we were encouraged to see and hear that our efforts last year are starting to have an impact. Over a 7 year period these students will have received thorough training and guidance.
Transforming the Environmental Outlook
Zimbabweas been one of the richest countries with regards to biodiversity and abounding wildlife. Unfortunately, in the past 9 years the environment has been decimated by poachers, rampant slashing and burning of forest areas and mismanagement of wildlife reserves. There is a tremendous need to educate Zimbabweans about caring for God’s creation. If the destruction doesn’t stop soon, this beautiful country will end up a desert. It is crucial for people to understand how we are so interconnected with our environment. The more we misuse it, the worse our lives will become in the future. We have passionately pursued environmental education over the past 13 years. God centered environmental education will continue to be a primary focus for us.
Environmental Camps for Elementary students: Approximately 120 environmental camps have occurred in the past 13 years. Students love the hands on approach to learning about creation. Since they take an active part in the learning process, they tend to retain a lot more. Over the past several years it has been brought to our attention that our environmental camp students do much better on their grade 7 exams than students who have not attended an environmental course. We share with the students a love for God’s creation and a desire to care for it to the best of their ability.
Environmental Camps at Rifa Educational Center in the Zambezi Valley: A couple times a year we assist this camp with running their program. They are very short staffed and rely on volunteers. This helps them and exposes our staff to the true Zimbabwean bush. It has lions, elephants, hyena, and all sorts going through the camp. It’s a very wild camping experience. We have built a healthy relationship with the chairman of Rifa and look forward to developing more programs in the future.
Programs being Developed
Biology/Geography Courses for High School: We are targeting a whole new group of students, assisting them in their educational pursuits and teaching them about our immediate environment. They will collect data that will include information about wildlife movement, population density, water purity, etc. As we see changes in such things we can bring them to the attention of the government or conservation organizations. A current example is that the mercury content in the dam and river near our campsite is on the rise because of so many illegal gold miners. If we can gather the scientific data to prove this then we may be able to encourage government action. There are endless possibilities with the development of this program.
Future Programs and Development
Fish Pond Development: Marine biologists in Zimbabwe have encouraged us to consider developing a series of fish ponds that would provide a regular supply of fish. Space, fish fingerlings (babies) and food are all reasonably available. This program could generate income, serve as a training model for others to set up simple businesses, and provide a good ecological study for the biology camps.
Game Park Status: We would like to put a game fence around the 450 acre property and bring in more game like sable, eland, zebra, giraffe, etc. to expand the wilderness experience for the campers. We already have kudu, bushbuck, waterbuck, a few impala, springbok, duiker, ant bear, monkeys, baboons, bush pig, and warthog. So much of the wildlife in Zimbabwe is diminishing due to poachers; this could be a special opportunity to preserve God’s creation, while educating the campers. Lasting Impressions has been officially designated as a conservancy area by the government, who will aid in the restocking of the wildlife, which may be God’s answer to this prayer.
College Credit Semester Courses: In the future we would like to offer programs for college credit to students from various Christian colleges in the states. Potential courses include practical adventure camping or biological and ecological studies in a cross-cultural setting. Courses like these already exist in other parts of Africa.
Other Camps and Events
One of our goals as an organization has been to be involved in the local community and work alongside the local churches. In an effort to achieve this goal we provide the following camps.
1 Youth Camps: Various church youth groups have conducted camps during the school holidays. The focus of these camps is to share Christ, deepen relationships among the group members, and challenge students to a growing relationship with Christ. Fun activities always accompany the enrichment aspects. Sometimes we run the whole program and sometimes the church does the programming. They generally run for 3-6 days.
2 Family Camps: These camps are generally over a long holiday weekend and the participants are from various churches. In the past we have left the churches to find their own speakers but we provide activities and the food.
3 Marriage Enrichment Weekends: Several churches have worked together to develop these weekends for encouragement and outreach.
4 Ladies' and Men’s Retreats: Each year we host various ladies' and men’s retreats. Campers generally come from a few churches in the area. The retreats occur over a weekend and generally focus on challenging and encouraging the participants to a healthier walk of faith.
5 Craft Weekends: Ladies or Mother/Daughter Craft Weekends or Craft Days have become popular. They are a time to encourage ladies to use their creativity and to enjoy fellowship.
6 Weddings: There are not many venues for hosting a wedding reception in the local area. We have hosted 4 weddings so far and in the future it may be a good source of income and a great way to promote Lasting Impressions.