Every year, the Intercultural Center for the Study of Deserts and Oceans (CEDO Intercultural) organizes a summer camp for kids aged between 10 and 14 years old focusing on a specific conservation theme combined with lots of fun activities to offer the participating children an unforgettable summer in the Gulf of California. This year the theme was Saving the Endangered Species, looking especially at 3 species: a bird, the least tern (Sterna antillarum), a fish, the totoata (Totoaba macdonaldi) and a porpoise, the Vaquita (Phocoena sinus).
Learning by having fun is the goal every year, and this year was no exception. During camp we indulged in games, competitions and craft-makings, and we visited places that showed us the magnificent natural and cultural treasures of Rocky Point.
When kids arrived to the field station they received a secret envelope. When they were allowed to open it, they discovered the name of the team to which they would belong during camp, while a camp counselor explained that each day teams would participate in competitions to try to win a very special prize at the end of camp. These competitions included a rally in the estuary, a treasure hunt, a sand castle competition, the creation of a new dance and the design of a team flag. All of these competitions were great fun, but also taught campers about teamwork. Also, these contests provided important and interesting information about the Gulf of California.
In nature, the words “Garbage,” “Trash,” and “Waste” have no meaning because everything exists in a cycle and therefore has a purpose. Everything is connected and, as we are part of nature, we must not forget this basic principle. To learn this message every day through fun activities, crafts were waiting to be made, inspiring campers’ imagination and abilities to create. They made a notebook using milk containers and old pieces of cloth; they made recycled paper that became an art masterpiece when they used this paper as a canvass for their paintings, using natural pigments (provided by minerals, plants and animals; natural pigments were used commonly before artificial colorants invaded the market); they created two piñatas using newspapers and their own designs; finally they painted a shirt using fish as a model for their individual designs.
The Field Trips
As we have every year, campers visited several of the different natural habitats that surround Puerto Peñasco. While having fun, kids learned so much about the region’s environment, which is a priority outcome of camp. Of course, we all got our feet wet in the waters of the Gulf of California! So, every day included a field trip and free time to swim. Campers visited:
1.) Isla San Jorge (Bird Island) and got to swim with the sea lions;
2.) The estuary to taste delicious oysters and
3.) The rocky reef to find alien looking creatures that demonstrated how in nature everything is connected.
On the other hand, swim time was simply to enjoy the salty waters without any worries. In fact, kids enjoyed it so much they didn’t want to leave for dinner!
Like in a movie, kids were charged with a mission – to save an endangered species. They received general information about the species that their team was named after, and then were asked to create a plan to save it. During the final camp session, with their parents in attendance, each team presented this information and recommendations, with the goal of reaching and sensitizing people to help these species and others to be saved from extinction. During camp, and even when they went home, kids were committed to save their endangered species.
All good things must end (except for time itself, which is intangible, a term created but which we cannot touch or draw). So Wet Feet Ocean Camp 2013 finished as it started – with a celebration of parents and kids! Campers presented to parents their crafts and their plans of action to save an endangered species. Moreover, they had a wonderful time breaking the Piñata they had created and eating lunch before leaving the field station, while hugs, kisses and good wishes were distributed to all!
Kids left a mark on CEDO and CEDO a mark on them, a mark that is the promise of a better future, with a cleaner planet where love among humans and nature rules the world.