Our children are the future of our island and teaching them about the importance of conservation of our beautiful Barrier Reef and fragile ecosystem is essential. What better way of doing that than engaging them in a hands-on experience summer camp. The Smith College Coral Reef Ed-Ventures Summer Camp was in its 14th year of fun and educational summer youth camp here in, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize.
The program seeks to inspire conservation and sustainable use of coastal resources by providing children an opportunity to learn how healthy reefs function, how various organisms interact with the reef, what threats to the reef ecosystem exist, and how to protect it. Smith College’s Environmental Science & Policy Program and Center for Community Collaboration sponsored this project along with the Hol Chan Marine Reserve.
This year’s team of student teachers from Smith College consisted of: Alyssa Stanek, Kayla Clark, Dena Greenstreet, Sarah Tucker, Kiara Gomez and Sarah Alper. The Smith student teachers and school children, aged 7 to 11, participated in a two-week, inquiry-based program to learn about coral reefs. There was also a one-week program for youth aged 12 and older, during which the students produced a final project to share with their community.
During the second week the students went on a glass bottom boat trip to Hol Chan Marine Reserve to see the corals, sea grass and animals that they had learned about. Students also enjoyed a presentation from the American Crocodile Education Sanctuary (ACES) on crocodile habitats and got to watch two episodes from the National Geographic series “Planet Earth”.
Coral Reef Ed-Ventures student teachers strive to educate the community and heighten awareness about the important economic, ecological, and aesthetic benefits that coral reefs provide to Belize. They use a wide variety of strategies, techniques, and materials to teach children concepts about reef ecology, including field trips, crafts, skits, games, and other hands-on activities.
On Thursday, July 11, 2013, 63 island children became Coral Reef Experts in a fun graduation ceremony at the Lions Den. Children participated in different skits and songs which they had learnt during the camp. After singing their coral reef camp song the children were presented with their Coral Reef Expert Cards.
Congratulations to all proud graduates and thanks to all the teachers for hosting a fun and educational summer camp; see you next year!