Twenty four young Belizeans are set to embark on a unique educational learning adventure as this year’s Chaa Creek Children’s Summer Camp Scholarship Program, better known as the Eco Kids Environmental Summer Camp, kicks off today July 20 2013.
According to Chaa Creek founder and general manager Lucy Fleming, the innovative annual event gives Belizean youth an opportunity 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.
“We’ve always believed that a commitment towards environmental sustainability and promoting things like responsible travel go hand-in-hand with eco-tourism, and that education should be an important part of what we do,” Ms Fleming said, “We also felt that if we can inspire and encourage today’s young people to become active in environmental issues, that will translate into a better, more secure future for Belize’s environment.
“So with that in mind, the Eco-Kids concept was born,” she added.
For the 2013 Eco Kids summer camp, which runs from July 20 to July 29 at the eco resort’s Macal River Camp, the twenty four young Belizeans between the ages of 8 and 13 will take part in a structured program with talks, workshops and activities that include hikes to ancient Maya sites to assist in archaeological excavations, guided horseback excursions along jungle trails through Chaa Creek’s 365 acre private nature reserve to study the flora and fauna and Maya medicinal plants, hands-on sustainable organic farming techniques, supervised water activities as well as song writing and talent show sessions.
Ms Fleming said that that the combination of learning activities and social interaction was designed to ensure that the young students have fun while they receive a comprehensive education in biodiversity, natural resource conservation, the ancient Maya, traditional healing, and other related subjects. “By starting with the basic three R’s – Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle, and going on from there with hands-on field work and activities and such as song writing and talent shows, we’ll not only educate but encourage social skills, teamwork and sharing.
“This puts them in a better position to communicate what they learned here to the broader community. By giving kids learning opportunities and the confidence to creatively express themselves and work with others, we hope to create a team of ‘nature’s ambassadors’ who will be able to promote sustainability in the future,” Ms Fleming explained.
The 2013 Eco Kids were selected after submitting a 300 word written essay for review by the Chaa Creek scholarship committee. Chaa Creek provides lodging in the camp’s bungalow style accommodation, three healthy meals and snacks each day, the structured educational activities, arts and craft materials, tee shirts, 24 hour camp counsellor supervision, and guided tours conducted by licensed naturalist guides.
Ms Fleming and her husband Mick designed and sponsor the free camp each summer as part of the Chaa Creek Cares program, which sees 10 per cent of all Chaa Creek room revenue going towards a range of social and environmental initiatives.
“It’s part of giving something back to the land and community, and it also falls under our charter of environmental stewardship. I think being surrounded and inspired by so much natural beauty naturally gives you a sense of responsibility to help preserve it, and that’s something we’ve always wanted to communicate.
“Inspiring just one child to devote his or herself to environmental sustainability will create a ripple effect, and if you take that into account, we’ve received a great return on our investment.
“And, to be honest, it’s something Mick and I, along with the staff, really enjoy doing,” Ms Fleming said, and added that further information about the Eco Kids Summer Camp can be found on the Chaa Creek website and Belize Travel Blog.
The Lodge at Chaa Creek is an award winning eco resort set within a 365 acre private nature reserve in Belize.