As our plans have started for our trip to Tanzania in 2021 with Camps International, Lee Hardeman, Head of Rufford House, shares with us a piece on the trip to Borneo this year.

Last summer, students of Retford Oaks Academy signed up for a trip to Borneo with Camps International.

There were four students from the academy and one member of staff; Mr Hardeman (who kindly volunteered to give up a month of the summer holidays to accompany them.)

The student were part of a bigger group which included students and staff from four other schools in London, Sheffield and Norfolk. The team was called “Pulau Tiga” which means 3 islands in Malay.

This was a once in a life time opportunity for them to get involved in a life changing experience which has an impact on the people, wildlife and environment. We spent time with the local communities and participated in local traditional dances.

We flew out on the 26 Jul 2019 from Heathrow Airport and returned on the 23 Aug 2019.

On arrival in the capital of Borneo Kota Kinabalu (KK) which is in the Malaysian state of Sabawe, we stayed in a hostel overnight, before being  transported the following day to the jungle to take part in a community run eco-tourism project, as well as a jungle restoration project to work hand in hand with the village to re-establish the eco systems in this area.

Set on the crocodile infested banks of the River Kinabatangan, the jungle reserve is home to fascinating and endangered animals including the orang-utan, proboscis monkey, crocodiles and pygmy elephants. Living in the jungle for four nights was certainly an experience. Sleeping in hammocks and having a cup shower. During the early morning and evening we were taken on boat trips to try and see the local wildlife. Many monkeys were seen but alas no orang-utans. The students worked extremely hard in the heat and humidity of the jungle planting trees.

Students visited Sepilok sanctuary which is home to Orangu-tans and Sun Bears.

The next camp we moved to was Mantanani Island approximately 45 mins over the South China Sea. In this stunning location we participated in various conservation projects including marine projects and community projects. The island is home to the rare scoops owl and other bird life. During this occasion we helped to build a classroom. Students learnt how to make cement in the same way the locals do and were shown how to plaster walls. They also made bricks out of cement and recycled plastic.

Students visited Sandakan Memorial Gardens to remember the prisoners of war who died during the Second World War. Otherwise known as the Sandakan Death Marches.

We spent time on a community based project where we were helping to build a community centre for the local villagers. Once again, it was hard work making concrete, clearing vegetation etc. We stayed in a traditional longhouse and met with local children and got involved in sporting activities with them.

Finally we spent a few days diving on Mamutik Island. The camp is surrounded by rain-forest and the ocean. Here we saw monitor lizards and various species of sea life. It was a great end to the adventure.

Finally we had time to do some souvenir shopping in Kota Kinabalu and a farewell meal before we left Borneo to return home.

This was truly an adventure that none of these students will forget. Well done to all of them.

You can see a selection of our photos below.