Help Them L.A.S.T. – Love A Sea Turtle is dedicated to preserving the world’s sea turtle population, inspiring young people to get involved, and providing targeted youths an outdoor summer environmental camp experience. The directors of A Time For Science asked me to narrate a video project for one of my local Boys & Girls Clubs. After seeing the kids’ dedication and hard work, I wanted to meet the kids myself! I was disheartened to learn that many of them had never been to the beach, kayaked, snorkeled, baked cookies, participated in a camp, or spent time outdoors. I then decided to do something to help them. The plan was to give them a week of summer camp at A Time For Science, a 400-acre nature conservancy, for them to experience nature, understand that learning can be fun, and provide environmental educational opportunities.
After sharing my idea with the directors of A Time For Science, the following help was enlisted: a local high school science teacher and nature interpreter, high school volunteers, and assorted volunteer educators. With the help of the science teacher, a camp curriculum was established that followed my guidelines: the camp needed to be science and water oriented, have hands-on activities, teach them the importance of their environment, and be fun. By following the guidelines, a schedule was formulated and the camp was to be a five-day experience for the selected students. The first three days would focus on water quality and its importance to our planet. The pH levels, turbidity, pollution, water source points, water run-off, and global water issues were to be items explored based on the theme of the camp – “The Upstream Downstream Connection”. Campers would use calculators, computers, Excel spread sheet programs, triple beam scales, water quality testing and sampling kits. They would apply scientific methods to perform the research and then publish a video to show the results of what they did through a power point presentation. On days four and five, they would learn new skills that physically challenged them and they would use more skills like problem solving, teamwork, and confidence building. Day four included a kayak trip on the local river along with field observation of water and a trash clean up along the way. Day five’s focus was a coastal marine field study of the ocean, including seining and collecting samples found in the ocean and on the sound side of marshlands, snorkeling, a beach clean-up, and touring a sea turtle hospital. We would blend technology, ecology, and life experiences through hands-on fun STEM (science, technology, engineering & math) experiments. It is important to me that the students understand that their actions on land create reactions in the ocean – good and bad.
To make my vision of a summer camp become a reality, it meant getting some serious funding. I needed to raise a whole bunch of money! The estimated overall cost of the camp added up to be $2,500 per week. I got to work: I requested donations, submitted grants, entered environmental contests, held my annual 10K/5K trail race, and I sold my sea turtle sugar cookies and tee-shirts. I was able to get the funding for the camps! It took a lot of hard work to make the camps happen and it was totally worth it! In this process, I had learned how to delegate, negotiate, collaborate and work with many different groups and individuals to yield the best result.
During the two camp weeks, a public service announcement was produced and filmed on location to encourage other students in our state to do something to make a difference and to post their results on the NC Students Make A Difference facebook page. This is a grassroots movement started to engage others to get involved. The PSA can be viewed at http://youtu.be/evDtHO_2Pfk. This movement also led to another later event. I made a presentation at a local high school where several of the students were camp volunteers. Their school watched the PSA and I spoke to them about getting involved with National Make A Difference Day. Their school agreed to host the event and 50 Boys & Girls Club members participated in recycling projects, nature walks, tree plantings, and games. A food drive was also held during the event. We continued to make a difference in our community.
Some students from the Boys & Girls Club told me that they were not interested in attending a science camp. When their camper friends returned, these stories changed. They heard all about camp and said, “We didn’t know science could be this much fun – how can we sign up for next year?” A difference was made in their attitudes and perceptions about science, math and the environment this summer! Students and counselors were evaluated on teamwork, leadership, social and problem solving skills at camp. Ultimately, the campers told us how much fun they had during the week of camp.
During camp, students focused on fresh water conservation – the effect/outcome was a pledge to conserve 2,864,155 gallons of fresh water. In addition, we cleaned two miles of NC beaches, impacted 28 students’ attitudes about how much fun environmental science can be, started a recycling program at five Boys & Girls Clubs serving more than 1,600 students, practiced student led service learning, and forged lasting community partnerships.
Since the camps, I have expanded my collaborative efforts with A Time For Science and the Pamlico Tar River Foundation. To date, we have made four presentations at the Boys & Girls Clubs in my county. We talk about the summer camps, the importance of our rivers, sea turtles, and water conservation. At each presentation, the kids are given native pine trees to take home and plant and my turtle-shaped cookies to eat! Our involvement didn’t end with summer camp – we were just beginning!
The summer camp attempts to instill that everything we do upstream will eventually make its way downstream affecting our water which in turn affects not only the animals in the water, but us, too. When I talk about these things to the campers, they take it to heart because they never thought about this cause and effect process. Some of the high school volunteers didn’t either!
The camp weeks were hot and the days long, but without a doubt, it was one of the most fun and rewarding weeks during my summer. The video results of our camps are posted on You Tube - http://youtu.be/XGbX335F87M. I made new friends, forged bonds with other organizations, learned more about myself, and I am absolutely certain that a difference was made in many lives. The results of the camp led to water conservation, expanding knowledge of fresh water and coastal resources, large amounts of trash being removed from our landfill by implementing a recycling program at the five Boys & Girls Clubs, and teaching the kids that everything you do has a ripple effect on others. Thus, the camps will have a ripple effect. John F. Kennedy said, “One person can make a difference and every person should try,” and I live by this quote. I think and hope that more people are starting to live by this quote as well.
· Date: December 26, 2011 · Views: 1954 · File size:19.2kb, 3542.4kb · Dimensions: 3264 x 2448 ·
Hours Volunteered: 750
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 14 & 13 to 70