The future of Belize’s natural resources isin good hands after this week’s graduation of 24 “Eco Kids” from an innovative summer camp aimed at educating and empowering tomorrow’s conservationists, The Lodge at Chaa Creek’s co-founder and general manager, Lucy Fleming said today.
The 24 students all graduated from Chaa Creek’s Eco Kids Summer Camp, an annual eight day event aimed at instilling a sense of “wonder, understanding and responsibility” of Belize’s world famous natural resources in today’s youth, according to Ms Fleming, who designs and facilitates the programs for the camp.
Officially known as the Children’s Summer Camp Scholarship Program, the camp program uses a mix of adventure, social interaction, fun and hands-on education to engage young people with their natural surroundings while teaching the importance of conservation and natural resource stewardship.
Ms Fleming said the idea for the camp came from her personal experiences while she and her husband Mick watched their own children grow up in the 365 acre private rainforest reserve they call home.
“Over the last 35 years living on the Macal River, first as small scale farmers and then building Chaa Creek, we developed a keen appreciation of how beautiful and ultimately fragile our natural habitat is. This sense of wonder and responsibility came naturally to our children, and it occurred to us that the more we expose Belizean youth to the natural riches in their own back yard, the more likely we were to have a generation of people dedicated to its preservation.
“From that simple premise we developed the Eco Kids program, and couldn’t be more pleased with the results. We’ve seen some very aware and responsible young people graduate today,” she said.
At the July 29 ceremony, the 24 graduates received a certificate of learning in Biodiversity, The Ancient Maya, Traditional Healing, Land Conservation, Solid Waste Management, Responsible Tourism and Belize Wildlife, and they all signed a pledge to, among other things, “be a role model in my community, and to be an eco-steward of the earth”.
To become an Eco Kid, young people between the ages of 8 and 13 are required to submit a 300 word written essay to Chaa Creek’s scholarship committee, which then shortlists the entries ensuring that children with an eco-passion from each of Belize’s six district attends. The 24 winners chosen from this year’s 86 entries then participated in archaeological excavations at ancient Maya sites, took part in hikes and horseback excursions to study local flora and fauna and Maya medicinal plants, and participated in song writing and talent show sessions, hands-on sustainable organic farming techniques, and supervised water activities.
The Eco-Kids initiative is part of the Chaa Creek Cares program, which sees ten per cent of the popular eco resort’s room revenue going to environmental and social programs throughout Belize as part of an ongoing commitment to responsible travel and sustainable tourism.
“At the end of the day it’s an investment in Belize’s – and the planet’s – future, and to share in the excitement and smiles as these kids engage with the natural world and see them develop into budding environmentalists is just priceless,” Ms Fleming said.
Chaa Creek’s Eco Kids Educational Summer Camp 2012
List of Graduates 2012
Girls 8- 10 years old
- Reign Ackerley – San Pedro, Ambergis Caye
Girls 11- 13 years old
- Brianni Danieli Requena –Santa Elena , Cayo District
- Kieva Mangar – Orange Walk Town, Orange Walk District
- Raeesa Ahmad – Belize City, Belize District
- Xanahia Borallos – Orange Walk Town, Orange Walk District
- Jalyssa Arthurs – San Ignacio, Cayo District
- Diani Roches – Belize City, Belize District
- Gabriela Escobar – Orange Walk Town, Orange Walk District
- Chelsea Young – Belize City, Belize District
- Camryn Nicholson – Belmopan, Cayo District
- Erica Wade – Stann Creek, Stann Creek District
- Emily Sanchez – San Pedro, Ambergis Caye
Boys 8 – 10 years old
- Shaahid Abdul Jaleel – Hattieville ,Belize District
- Roben Harrison – Belmopan, Cayo District
Boys 11 – 13 years old
- Luis Zavala –Yo Creek Village, Orange Walk District
- Elias Gonzalez – Belize City, Belize District
- Glen Tillet – Orange Walk Town, Orange Walk District
- Jaheim Mejia – Belize City, Belize District
- Javier Gongora – Yo Creek Village, Orange Walk District
- Eulogio Teul- Toledo District
- Kimauni Alwin Lewis – Belmopan, Cayo District
- Glevaughn Smith – Belize City, Belize District
- Erick Lopez- Corozal Town, Corozal District
- Tyler Casimiro- Toledo District