This week we began running our Youth Camp: a 2-week long educational camp focused on marine science for children ages 7-11. We headed out of the house with a suitcase full of supplies, bags filled with bananas for snack time, and an overwhelming amount of excitement for what would be our first day of Youth Camp. About 60 kids showed up and registered the first day of camp and 90+ kids in total registered throughout the week!
The first half of the day consisted of introductions, rules for the camp, “Get to Know you Bingo,” and as always, Coral of the Day. We introduced our camp theme this year: “My Roots in the Sea.” The kids also learned a song called “Don’t Litter the Beach” (lyrics taught by Emily and I accompanied with ukulele) and ended the day with a beach clean-up.
On Day 2, we dove a little deeper into the meaning behind our theme this year by focusing on eco-cultural identity. In order to have the kids learn about this topic, we talked about the meaning of home and where we come from. One of our activities was to use the mural (depicting Ambergris Caye) and have the kids place a cutout where they lived. Another one of our activities was doing a fill-in-the-blank “I am From” poem.
The focus of Day 3 was Mangroves. For the beginning part of camp, we taught the kids a lesson on Mangroves and the role they play in the ecosystem. We also taught the kids a song written by Emily and Jasmine called “The Mangrove Song”.
For the later half of the day, we had guests Chris and Gary from ACES (American Crocodile Education Sanctuary) collaborate with us to teach about the mangroves and crocodiles of Belize. They also talked to the kids about waste, how long different things take to break down, and played a food-chain themed game with them.
On Day 4 the focus was coral reefs. We had a guest, Mariela Archer, the education director at Hol Chan Marine Reserve, who talked about the roles of different stakeholders in reef conservation. We ended the day with our “building an edible coral polyp” activity, which consists of 3 parts: the polyp (marshmallow), tentacles (twizzlers), and zooxanthellae (green sprinkles). Each kid built their own coral polyp, and was quizzed on the parts before they were able to eat it.
On Day 5, the focus was on relationships and food webs. Yeiny taught a lesson on symbiosis and led an activity that had the kids compare relationships in the sea to relationships that they have in their everyday lives. I taught a lesson focusing more on the food-web and how different animals interact. We played a food-web game using balls of string to illustrate the complexity of food webs and how every component has an effect on the rest.
2nd Movie Night
We had our second movie night at the Lion’s Den on Saturday. It had been raining the entire day, making the evening perfect for movie-watching. We showed the movie Shark Tale and the kids could not stop laughing, they seemed to really enjoy it. About halfway through the movie, a kid from camp even came up to me and asked me about the type of coral being shown in the movie. It was great to see that he was being so observant and using what he had learned in camp!
– Glenda Perez & Team STARRS