Camp Eco-Explorer – Kids Version taught 12 Grand Bahama youngsters to appreciate the environment and motivated them to do all they can to protect it
FREEPORT, Grand Bahama – The word ‘environment’ means a whole lot more to a group of Grand Bahama students now that they’ve completed the first ever Kids Version of Eco Explorer Camp!
Camp Eco-Explorer – Kids Version, a seven-day camp sponsored by Waterkeepers Bahamas and Save the Bays, was organized to get youngsters excited about their eco-systems and impress upon them how important it is to take care of our natural resources.
“Our facilitators had the experience of working with teenagers over the past three years and became painfully aware at times of the lack of knowledge about and appreciation for our wonderful, rich and precious environment. It became obvious that a great deal of work has to be done to enlighten our youth about our natural treasures,” said STB chairman Joseph Darville.
The theme for the week was ‘Protect. Preserve. Lead’ and students learned about pine forests, composting, recycling, mangroves, caves, the water cycle, weather, and climate change.
Rashema Ingraham, executive director of Waterkeepers Bahamas, says her organization focuses on ensuring swimmable, fishable, drinkable water for all. “We are adamant about giving each Bahamian an opportunity to connect with the water, either for enjoyment or to ensure it is safe. Programs like the Eco Explorer Camp gives campers opportunities to really understand why and how all species of the Earth depend on clean water,” she said.
When they were done in the classroom, they headed to the great outdoors to see first-hand just what they were learning about.
There was no shortage of outdoor fun! Field trips to the Rand Nature Centre, Garden of the Groves, Lucayan National Park, GB Meteorology Office, and Fortune beach brought out the true explorers in each student.
They were supplied with binoculars, magnifying glasses and even snorkeling gear to help them really get into the role of the scientist or the observer.
According to Darville, the program was very ambitious. “The content was challenging and demanded a level of attention and involvement commensurate with and beyond their age. However, with due diligence and encouragement, seasoned with a lot of patience, the facilitators were able to implant in those young minds and spirits an awesome regard and respect of our precious environment”, he said.
Both Ingraham and Darville agreed these lessons should be part of everyday learning. “We can have beach cleanups every week,” said Ingraham, but if there is no focus on why littering and illegal dumping are toxic for our water supply, there will always be unsightly trash in our communities.”
Darville is strongly advocating for the inclusion of a vibrant environmental curriculum in every school. “If our children do not know and aren’t able to celebrate our natural blessings, they will be more inclined to destroy them.” he said.
Those 12 students left camp with more than certificates. “From all indications, we have some future environmentalists on our hands,” Ingraham said.
As members of Waterkeeper Alliance, a leading international NGO that coordinates more than 290 member licensed organisations who act as watchdogs for the world’s waterways, Save the Bays and Waterkeepers Bahamas work tirelessly to make sure the citizens of the Bahamas are educated and informed about decisions, policies and practices that have an impact — positively or negatively — on the country’s fragile ecosystem. One of its main initiatives is protection of mangroves which act as incubators for marine life and a barrier from ocean surges and flooding during storms.
Waterkeepers Bahamas works to promote the availability of clean water on all three of the waterbodies for which it is licensed – Bimini, Grand Bahama and Clifton-Western Bays in New Providence – with the goal of ensuring they are swimmable and fishable for future generations of Bahamians. The organisation is a proud member of Waterkeeper Alliance, the world’s fastest growing environmental movement that has united more than 290 Waterkeeper members and affiliates around the world, all working together to focus citizen action on issues that affect waterways from pollution to climate change. If you are aware of pollution, unregulated development or other illegal activities taking place in the area please contact Rashema Ingraham via phone 242-602-7531 or email firstname.lastname@example.org