This past week was our last week in San Pedro. It was a week full of activities, emotions, and excitement. The team worked very hard to have everything ready for departure back to Smith and to finish Youth Camp.
On Monday, Emiline and Liz led a lesson focused on fossil fuels & renewable energy. Unfortunately, it was a rainy day so we couldn’t do the amazing solar ovens we had prepared beforehand, but the students had a chance to learn about where Belize’s energy comes from and other sources of energy besides oil. They also tried to clean an oil spill simulation in order to better understand the impact of off-shore drilling.
Tuesday was also a day full of activities, starting with Mariela from Hol Chan visiting us at camp. Mariela led an informative lecture about the Marine Protected Areas (MPA) in Belize and the different environments protected by them; the kids learned a lot about the history of MPAs and all about the marine life they protect. After that Aidan and Liz led the tragedy of the commons activity, in which the kids got to try their hand at (gold)fishing to understand resource exploitation.
Wednesday we had two visitors come to camp: ACES (American Crocodile Education Sanctuary) and Paula and Shannon Riley from the Blackadore Project. Chris Summers and Ciaran O’ Mordha from ACES taught the students about the crocodiles in Belize, and they even brought a one-year-old American crocodile, Enchilada, for the students to meet. Paula and Shannon guided a lesson in which students learned about sea turtles’ life cycle and the actions that people around the world are taking in order to protect them. Paula also taught the students basics of drawing, and how to draw sea creatures using lines, angles, and simple traces. They ended the lesson with the students making four big murals, letting them try out their new drawing skills as they created a rainbow reef.
Thursday was our big graduation day, so students spent all the time in camp working on final projects. This year we decided to host a poster symposium, so all the campers prepared a poster to present about their favorite topic they learned in camp. Among the topics presented were: mangroves, renewable energy, sargassum, coral polyps, plastics, and pollution.Later in the evening, we hosted graduation at the San Pedro High School auditorium. The event was a success despite the rainy night, with families and friends gathered to hear the students present their posters and to see the projects that they have been working on during camp. The event culminated in 51 students making a pledge to use what they have learned in camp to protect their community as they proudly held up their new ‘reef protector’ cards.
On Friday, we hosted three glass-bottom boat trips as a closing activity for camp. The campers saw all the corals they had learned about in “Coral of the Day” through the glass bottom, as well as hoards of sharks at Shark Ray Alley. One group even got lucky and saw a few turtles! This was our last day with the students and it was a perfect way for us to close out Coral Ed 2018.
This week we are back at Smith preparing for our SURF presentation on Thursday and ensuring that all is in order for the next team STARRs. We hope you liked our posts about this year’s ed-venture and that you keep following us for next year, our big 20th year anniversary!!!
-Dana Vera & Team STARRs