Belize’s Cool Eco-Kids to Help a Warming Planet

An innovative program aimed at engaging young people with their natural world while instilling a sense of environmental and social responsibility is underway again at Belize’s Chaa Creek eco-resort.

Chaa Creek’s owners, Mick and Lucy Fleming have been sponsoring the annual free summer camp since 2010 and interest has since risen dramatically among young people and schools in Belize, where much of the land is pristine wilderness and eco-tourism is the primary means of employment.

“We’ve always felt that an investment in our young people was Belize’s best hope for the future, and now, after sponsoring the Eco-Kids camp for a couple of years, we’re very optimistic about the up and coming generation. We’re seeing some very switched-on, responsible kids these days,” Ms Fleming said.

Officially known as the Children’s Summer Camp Scholarship Program, the Eco-Kids camp is held each year at Chaa Creek’s rustic Macal River Camp, down the Macal River from the main resort and the Natural History Centre, Butterfly Farm, Maya Medicinal Plant Trail, Hilltop Spa and other rainforest attractions.

Twenty four young Belizeans between the ages of 8 and 13 are selected each year, based on a 300 word written essay they submit to the scholarship committee which are then reviewed allowing for the best and brightest to be chosen .

While at the camp the children will participate in activities such as hikes to ancient Maya sites where they assist in archaeological excavations, horseback riding along jungle trails through the 365 acre private nature reserve to study the flora and fauna and Maya medicinal plants, song writing and talent show sessions, hands-on sustainable organic farming techniques, and supervised water activities.

During the eight day experience Chaa Creek provides lodging at the Macal River Camp, three healthy meals plus snacks each day, a range of educational events, arts and craft materials, t-shirts, 24 hours camp counsellor supervision, and guided tours with licensed naturalist guides.

“We wanted to make sure that the kids have fun while they receive a comprehensive education in biodiversity, natural resource conservation, the ancient Maya, traditional healing, and the three R’s – Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. We also encourage social skills, teamwork and sharing through activities such as song writing and talent shows that give kids opportunities to creatively express themselves and work with others.

“We like to think that among each group of 24 are some of tomorrow’s leaders, thinkers and activists, and if we can put even one child on the path towards environmental stewardship and social responsibility, we got a great return on our investment,” Ms Fleming said.

The Lodge at Chaa Creek, set in a private 365 acre nature reserve is Belize’s oldest eco-resort and has pioneered responsible travel in the region for over 30 years.

Chaa Creek’s Eco Kids Educational Summer Camp 2012
List of Winners 2012

Girls 8- 10 years old
1.    Reign Ackerley – Belize City, Belize District

Girls 11- 13 years old
1.    Brianni Danieli Requena –Santa Elena , Cayo District
2.    Kieva Mangar – Orange Walk Town, Orange Walk District
3.    Raeesa Ahmad – Belize City, Belize District
4.    Xanahia Borallos – Orange Walk Town, Orange Walk District
5.    Jalyssa Authurs – San Ignacio, Cayo District
6.    Diani Roches – Belize City, Belize District
7.    Gabriela Escobar – Orange Walk Town, Orange Walk District
8.    Chelsea Young – Belize City, Belize District
9.    Noelle Melendez- Belmopan, Cayo District
10.    Erica Wade – Stann Creek, Stann Creek District
11.    Emily Sanchez – San Pedro, Ambergis Caye

Boys 8 – 10 years old
1.    Shaahid Abdul Jaleel – Hattieville ,Belize District
2.    Roben Harrison – Belmopan, Cayo District

Boys 11 – 13 years old
1.    Luis Zavala –Yo Creek Village, Orange Walk District
2.    Elias Gonzalez – Belize City, Belize District
3.    Glen Tillet – Orange Walk Town, Orange Walk District
4.    Jaheim Mejia – Belize City, Belize District
5.    Javier Gongora – Yo Creek Village, Orange Walk District
6.    Eulogio Teul- Toledo District
7.    Kimauni Alwim Lewis – Belmopan, Cayo District
8.    Glevaughn Smith – Belize City, Belize District
9.    Erick Lopez- Corozal Town, Corozal District
10.    Tyler Casimiro- Toledo District

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