The Lodge at Chaa Creek has kicked off its innovativeEco Kids Summer Camp program for 2013 with an invitation to budding young environmentalists to apply for a free nine-day, eight night educational adventure at the Belizean eco resort’s Macal River Camp.
Officially known as the Children’s Summer Camp Scholarship Program, the annual event gives 24 young Belizeans a chance to learn about their natural world through a mix of adventure, social interaction, fun and hands-on education aimed at instilling a sense of wonder and responsibility for the environment, according to program sponsors Mick and Lucy Fleming.
“We’ve always felt that investing in our young people was the best way to prepare Belize, the region and indeed the world for the many environmental challenges that lay ahead. Young people who are impassioned about their natural world and understand the need to protect it are our best hope for the future,” Lucy Fleming said during the launch of this year’s program.
Ms Fleming and her husband Mick own and manage The Lodge at Chaa Creek, considered to be Belize’s first eco resort and the recipient of numerous awards for sustainable tourism and responsible travel. The couple said interest has risen dramatically among the young people and schools of Belize since they started the Eco Kids project several years ago.
“It’s been so encouraging to see the quantity and quality of applications we receive growing each year,” Ms Fleming said, “It shows that, given the opportunity, young people are very willing to get involved in learning about and protecting their environment.”
This year, twenty four young Belizeans between the ages of 8 and 13 will be selected after submitting a 300 word written essay for review by the Chaa Creek scholarship committee. Shortlisted applications will then be entered into a draw, with the winners going on to attend the summer camp.
Chaa Creek provides lodging in the camp’s bungalow style accommodation, three healthy meals and snacks each day, structured educational activities, arts and craft materials, tee shirts, 24 hour camp counsellor supervision, and guided tours conducted by licensed naturalist guides.
The activities include hikes to ancient Maya sites where the students will 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.
Mick Fleming said that the days are structured to ensure that the kids have fun while they receive a comprehensive education in biodiversity, natural resource conservation, the ancient Maya, traditional healing, and other related subjects. “We begin with the three R’s – Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle, and go from there. We also encourage social skills, teamwork and sharing through activities such as song writing and talent shows that give kids opportunities and the confidence to creatively express themselves and work with others.”
“It’s a well-rounded experience that we like to think will put some of tomorrow’s leaders on the path towards environmental stewardship and social responsibility,” he said.
“If we can inspire even one child to devote his or herself to environmental sustainability, and then take into account the ripple effect from that, we’ve received a great return on our investment,” Ms Fleming added.
Ms Fleming said further information about the Eco Kids Summer Camp can be found on the Chaa Creek website.