The 2017 Belize Eco-Kids Summer Camp Is Off!
Chaa Creek’s 2017 Belize Eco-Kids Summer Camp started with a storm, which, anywhere else, would have probably been a bad omen. But here, in the middle of the jungle surrounded by dark woods, flooded rivers and trees full of howler monkeys, we just took it in our stride, and as they came down the jungle trail, there were smiles all around that cut straight through the gloomy clouds.
Literally. As they sat down around our famed camp fire, the clouds gave up and moved away, and we started with – of course – the ice-breaker, our nickname game, where we have the chance to give ourselves our own camp names before other, less charming ones are bestowed on us. There’s a catch – your nickname has to be a food, and it has to start with the first letter of your name.
My name’s Alex.
Not apple, I thought as the campers made their way towards me. The first A is always an Apple – it’s basically a brand of predictability. Avocado. Armadillo. Apricot. Not apple. Agouti. Not apple. Not apple, not apple-
“Alex?” Levi, our camp director, asked.
Agouti, I told my tongue.
“Apple,” it said.
And that’s how I got stuck with Apple for the rest of the week, surrounded by the infinitely smarter Avocado, Apricot and basically everyone.
Still, who cares? I get a gigantic double bed to annoy the campers stuck with their still-great-single-beds-but-the-key-word-here-is-still-single, great food, fun camp games, walks through one of the greatest eco lodges in the world, cool hikes, and, of course, the spirit of summer camp. We all get that, and we all love it, even if it comes with the price of a few pushups and a two-hour hike every day.
Anyway, back to business.
After the nickname game, the campers were assigned to their teams – Toucan, Tapir, Jaguar and the Howlers. Then, after forever inscribing their names in one of our flags, they were given a much more mediocre task – lugging their bags to the cabins while the howler monkeys above roared and generally made a big noisy mess of the beautiful canopy above our jungle bungalows.
Then, after changing into long pants ang getting their headlamps, we came up for dinner, a delicious meal of beans, rice, stewed chicken and potatoes, and banana/chocolate cake, which wasn’t eaten as much as inhaled.
After our amazing dinner, the campers were taken on a nighttime jungle hike with Chaa Creek’s top guides. There were millipedes, centipedes, grasshoppers, wolf-spiders galore, and even a few scorpions here and there, scattered among the raindrop-filled leaves and squishy drenched leaves that are the jungle floor.
And then – wipeout. The kids retired to their cabins, dead-tired, and the moon rose over camp as the snores finally, finally shut up the howler monkeys.
Eco-Kids Camp 2017 started off with a bang, kids who weren’t shy to sing the songs, Howlers who weren’t shy to say we annoyed them and that signature rain-forest weather to greet us.
Our Eco-Kids This year!
Alyssa Riverol Jared Hall
Ginelli Choj Michael Zetina
Kadie Young Kevin Thurton
Shayan Gentle Jareth Tablada
Gaia Cariddi Johan Rosado
Torrie Cruz Rygel Manzanero
Kailey Pacheco Eyron Peters
Chloe Riaz Ethen Mendez
Ayisha Riaz Ajani Bech
Zeiny Flores Gustavo Mendez
Day 1 (Actual day one) – Biodiversity & Conservation day!
The first day is usually our campers’ least favorite day – no, not because it’s Monday, but because it’s our earliest day at camp!. Surprisingly enough all our young campers were up and much more eager to find out what’s going than any other year in recorded history… We started with bird watching on the howler trail near camp. Our excited young kids got to see motmots hummingbirds and even learn some of the calls.
Bird watching was followed by a hearty breakfast, arts and crafts where the kids made their jungle journals and a brisk hike to Chaa Creeks Butterfly Farm and Natural History Center.
Once there, the kids marveled at the iridescent blue on the Morphos and the large intimidating print on the owl Butterflies and guessed at which skulls belonged to which animals.
Lunch was cheese burgers and bacon… mmm bacon – which was the perfect fuel for their next activity, swim test and revision of water safety. We made our way to Mrs. Fleming’s swimming pool where we fitted all life jackets and had the kids do their swim tests before we got to water games.
Every afternoon at camp we get free time. 90 minutes for kids to do whatever they like… Of course our Eco-kids spent their time playing tag and kick ball before Levi (head counselor) taught them the caterpillar race – which is variation on dragon race for those of you who may want to google it.
Dinner time went by pretty quietly, which always means; the kids either like their food, or they’re exhausted. We thought it was the latter until someone said the words “Watermelon Eating Contest” which was met by a roar of “Yeah!”s. The competition was fierce (video to come soon) and thankfully -surprisingly- the competitors kept both their dinner and unceremonious desserts down.
The night carried along by campfire time followed by a hysterical improvised skit by our counselors and some brave kids.
There were no howlers tonight, nor were there noisy kids, lights out time came and everyone drifted happily to bed – ready for Ancient Maya day on Tuesday!