Sunday July 22, 2012
While a 6:30AM camp-wide bell ringing should have most kids moaning and groaning in their beds, many of this year’s eco-campers informed me today that they were already up with the sounds of the birds and were eager to get started on the first full day of their camp experience. All days of camp focus on a distinctive theme, and today we looked at biodiversity and conservation. This centered around four very cool activities for the campers: creating a jungle journal, going bird watching, exploring the Natural History Centre Museum, and visiting the hilltop butterfly farm.
After a delicious breakfast, the eco-campers began to collect leaves, plants, and many other interesting natural things they could use to create a unique cover for their jungle journal. These journals were not merely for presentation value as campers immediately began using them to write down contact information for their new friends, thoughts on the camp so far, and enlightening facts that they learned throughout the day, during their other fun experiences.
The first of these activities was a bird watching tour of the Chaa Creek Resort. Belize is known as a bird watcher’s paradise, with tourists coming from all over the world just to catch a glimpse of some of the rare and striking birds who call this country home. Led by naturalists, David (from the Creatures of the Night hike) and Alan, the kids were given a pair of binoculars to share with a partner and the four eco teams split into two groups to go off exploring. Before leaving the Macal River Camp the eco-campers got to see and hear a beautiful toucan up in the trees. Things only got better as we were treated with an amazing selection of birds.
After viewing some of our flying friends, we walked up to the Natural History Centre Museum (N.H.C.M.) and Butterfly Gardens. Despite humidity and sweat soaked clothes, the campers were still eager to learn more about biodiversity and conservation. At the N.H.C.M. the kids tried to match word labels to skulls…some more successfully than others! Our guides informed us about the different creatures and mentioned some of the different conservation efforts taken to reduce over-hunting and eating of these animals. Emphasis was placed on the new 2013 law that will ban the eating of iguana, much to the surprise of some of our campers who have enjoyed them as a tasty treat in the past. Inside the museum, we looked at a recreation of a Maya home and learned about how they live, as well as looking at displays and learning about many different local animals, butterflies, and insects.
Our final eco-activity for the day was a quick visit to the butterfly gardens. Despite their initial fears after being told a butterfly might try and bite their ears, our campers entered the enclosure where they lived and were soon covered in brave insects. We got to learn about the life cycles of the magnificent creatures and see live examples of them at each stage. Learning that these beautiful butterflies only lived in their winged form for two or three weeks, one of our campers summed up his surprise and disappointment by saying that he wished he could “ask God to trade my life so that all butterflies could live as long as humans.” The “awwwwes” from the councilors could be heard for miles!
The afternoon wouldn’t be complete without a swim in the river to cool off after all that walking. After taking a swim and learning to paddle canoes, the eco-campers headed back to camp to enjoy the nightly dinner, games, songs, and campfire before heading to bed. And they actually took shorter showers today!!!
Stayed tuned tomorrow for the Ancient Mayan theme.
Some of the boys forgetting how to smile for the camera
David teaching the kids about butterflies
Checking out caterpillars, larva, and pupa’s
See also: 2012 CHAA CREEK ECO CAMP – COMMENCEMENT