Week 4 was a very exciting week because we got to start the R.E.E.F. Camp, which is for kids 12 and older and for those who have done the Youth Camp before.
Day 1 of camp consisted of learning each other’s names, establishing the rules and giving the kids an introduction to what doing research looks like. We had three research stations: 1. Observing and identifying different types of sand with a microscope and magnifying lenses. 2. How to do research underwater with SCUBA gear. 3. Citizen Science presentation.
The theme of Day 2 was plastics. We took the kids to do a beach cleanup to gather plastics. After a presentation of the effects of plastic to the environment and to humans, the plastics we had collected were used to make art.
On Day 3, we had a guest, Mariela Archer, the education director at Hol Chan Marine Reserve, who talked about advocacy and the role of Hol Chan in reef conservation. After a presentation describing advocacy and what it takes to be an advocate, the kids designed their own advocacy campaign, which included making posters and flyers.
On day 4 we hosted Chris from ACES (American Crocodile Education Sanctuary) who collaborated with us to teach about mangroves and crocodiles. The kids got to learn about the cultural and ecological importance of mangroves. Chris also helped them debunk myths about crocodiles.
On this day we also got to take the kids to dinner at Fido’s where they shared their highlights of the week.
Day 5 was the culmination of the REEF Camp with a snorkeling trip to Hol Chan and Shark Ray Alley with Amigos del Mar. Some of the kids got to touch the nurse sharks in Shark Ray Alley. The kids were really happy to see the corals and to swim around the sharks. It was the first time for some of them!
20th Year Reunion Snorkel Trip and Celebration
Besides the R.E.E.F. Camp, this was a very exciting week because it was the week of the 20th year anniversary of the program. Alums and professors started arriving on Wednesday, where the celebration began with a reception at the Blue Water Grill restaurant. On Thursday morning, 25 alums professors and current Smith students went on a snorkel trip to Hol Chan and Shark and Ray Alley with Amigos del Mar. Though most of us had already been snorkeling there, it felt like a new experience because of the program alumnae that were there, making the experience much more memorable. The celebration continued and culminated with a gala on Friday night where past campers and many members of the San Pedro community that have been so valuable for the program joined us to commemorate the 20th year anniversary of the camp.
This week will be the start of the Youth Camp and we are looking forward to the next two weeks.
- Yeiny Moreno and the STARRS Team