Surfboard Refurbishing

After Kid’s Club vacations, Rolando and I decided that it would be a lot of fun to start up surf lessons and classes with the kids. Having surfed myself, I understand the dedication, humility and patience that surfing requires; and what better way to teach children important values than through action itself?

Naima, a well-known and respected surf instructor here in Puerto Viejo that often takes our volunteers for surfing lessons, was kind enough to donate her time and old boards to the cause. Having our own boards was the majority of the problem of doing surf classes with the kids, because financially for us, renting boards isn’t a feasible option.

The boards that were gifted to us were broken, or had many dings and needed lots of cleaning and necessary fixes. However, this turned out to be a perfect situation. Being given old boards gave us the opportunity to teach the kids how an array of lessons while fixing, painting, and reusing broken surfboards.

The process of transforming unusable boards into something we could eventually use in the water was an ideal way to teach the kids a couple of important lessons. First, that they have to work for what they want, that it doesn’t just come naturally. If we had of just rented the boards, they wouldn’t have had the same rewarding feeling of having worked towards the goal of having repaired their own surfboards. Second lesson being to practice what we preach in Kid’s Club, to utilize the three R’s- Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. Boards that normally would have ended up as rubbish were able to be reused into a usable product. Lastly, the kids, with Naima’s help, learned how to refurbish and repair old foam boards into fishtail and boogie boards. This helped them to practice their motor and mechanical skills while having fun!

Keeping the theme of surfing in mind, in between fixing the boards and waiting for foam and paint to dry, we talked about ocean conservation, tips to stay safe while surfing and exercises to improve their surfing skills. We practiced our “pop-ups” to efficiently go from laying to standing on top of their boards, we talked about the rip tides and ocean currents that can affect surfing, how ocean conservation can positively impact surfing and areas where there is tourism due to surfing, and watched video clips about important safety tips while in the ocean with the board.

When the boards were finally finished, Rolando took some of the kids to Punta Uva to try out their new boards (wasn’t so much of surfing, just paddling around and having fun on their new products!). Hopefully when rainy season ends and the ocean settles down we will be able to use them more!

Sea Turtles, Bioluminescence and Full Moons, Oh my!

Last week I was given the rare opportunity to visit the isolated and magical Osa Peninsula, where I was able to work with and learn all about the conservation of sea turtles. Everything was a completely new realm for me, with no prior knowledge of how the conservation of endangered sea turtles really works.

The first big surprise was just how difficult and exhaustive the work could be, from patrolling the beaches in ankle-deep sand during the wee hours of the morning or night, to digging arms-deep artificial turtle nests to relocate badly placed eggs; the work was not for the light of heart.
Upon arrival we were given a brief presentation of the work that was expected of us (and although I was helping coordinate volunteers I also took on the role of a volunteer since everything was new for me), and how the night patrols would work. This was followed by a second presentation of the anatomy of various turtles we work with and how endangered some of them are, as well as how worldwide conservation efforts are helping to increase their likelihood of survival.
Between recoveries from previous night or morning patrols, we did a variety of jobs during the day as well. Some days we built baskets for the hatchery that will soon open, reconstructing nest covers, beach clean-ups, excavations of nests that had been hatched, and beach searches for new hatchlings.
Perhaps the most difficult and important work of all though, were the night patrols that I previously mentioned. However testing the night walks may have been, they were the most rewarding and provided the most hands-on work for rapid learning. Patrolling basically entailed going to the beach during peak activity for the turtles, where we (the assistants, the volunteers, and I) would walk along the beaches back and forth to look out for turtles and inhibitors to their nesting such as dogs, poachers, or high tides. Each patrol was perfectly timed with the tides to make sure we were on the beach when the most sea turtles could be found to optimize our efforts in protecting their nests.
Night patrols entailed bioluminescent sand that lit up like mini galaxies as we walked, nesting turtles leaving and returning to the sea, measuring the turtles as they laid their eggs for future data, the inspection of nests to ensure their eggs hadn’t been poached or eaten by animals, marking already laid nests, and the relocation of nests (we did this only when a turtle had laid eggs in a place that would lower the chances of survival for the eggs).
Some nights were more successful than others, in that some nights there were many turtles and nests, while other patrols there were none (this could be accounted for by the full moon, turtles hate light for nesting- make sure you turn off your lights if you are staying in a beach hotel or house!). Despite having a lack of activity during unsuccessful nights, the inexplicable beauty that surrounded us each night made every patrol special in its own way.
Having been given the opportunity to work in an incomparably special environment, while working to conserve some of the world’s most timeless species, will surely be a highlight of all of my travels. Working in Carate was an experience that impacted me immensely after having seen the fruit of our efforts, and I came out with a whole new array of knowledge and deeper understanding of the mechanisms of sea turtle conservation. A huge thanks to the team at Planet Conservation (Beate and Federico), the assistants in the project (Courtney and Attenea) and the volunteers who make our projects possible. After having experienced the project firsthand, I now have the utmost respect and admiration for all of those who work so tirelessly and passionately in sea turtle conservation. It was an experience I will never forget.
Interested in participating in sea turtle conservation? Contact us to find out more details on how you can join!
Other ways you can help indirectly with sea turtle conservation:
  • Ask for your drinks without straws, or sin pajilla in Spanish
  • Use reusable bags instead of plastic, or sin bolsa 
  • Avoid buying jewelry or souvenirs that use turtle shells as decoration
  • Travel consciously through programs that support rather than hurt sea turtle conservation, E.g. horse riding tours that do not ride their horses through known nesting areas (the horses are notorious for breaking eggs in nests along the beach with their hooves!).
  • If staying on a beach at night where turtles are known to lay their nests, turn off all bright lights during the night. Also avoid going onto the beach at night with bright white lights and use the red light option instead.
  • If you live near the sea, organize a beach clean-up in your area
  • Donate to authentic programs working in sea turtle conservation

Getting Back into Rhythm at Kids Club

Music workshops, storytelling, theater, games, and agriculture; Kids Club is back in full swing after national vacations in Costa Rica! We were lucky to start off with two guests in the Kids Club, Fernando, a leader of culture and arts in San Jose; and Santiago, a local music teacher in Puerto Viejo.

Kids Club started off with a bunch of new silly games, icebreakers, storytelling, and dance with much thanks to Fernando. Many times the Kids Club needs a new face, with different energy to revamp the club, and Fernando did exactly that! I have never seen them pay attention so quickly with someone new, but they were all locked in and interested in what our guest had to offer. Fernando has an amazing way with kids and we hope he will return soon!

Santiago came in for a quick music lesson using drums and other percussion instruments in which the kids learned how to use and create different rythms when playing music. Along with the rythms and music, Santiago came up with some silly songs and dances to go along with the music, which the group had an absolute blast with. I always love when we are able to do a music workshop and watch the kids connect with the music and find their own creativity, music can be magical like that, moving the young and old alike.

We are hoping to be able to continue to incorporate more music and cultural arts each week to help them grow, learn and most importantly- have fun!


Planet Conservation Logo

Selinas Pool Party Bash

After two weeks of craziness and continuous fun here at Environmental Kids Club, we had a closing celebration in Selinas Hostel with a pool party. The idea behind our excursions for school vacations was to attract more kids who normally do not come, and to give the children of Puerto Viejo a way to make their vacation time count by learning and exploring in creative and fun ways. Through this, we were able to introduce to them ideas about sustainability, recycling, organic farming, cooking healthily, swimming classes, and other excursions intended to have a general lesson behind them.

So what better way to celebrate the ending of school vacations at Kids Club than a pool party bash?! We had water games, pool activities, a treasure hunt and an acroyoga exhibition by one of the kids club participants and their dad. The pool party was a tremendous success, with around 30 kids (some old faces but a lot of new faces too!) who showed up to join the fun! We are so excited about the turn out of kids and the help and collaboration from nearby businesses, vacations may have ended but the beginning of a new chapter in Environmental Kids Club is surely upon us!

Planet Conservation would also like to give a big thanks to Selina Hostal for giving us the space to host the party as well as providing us transportation for the kids, also a big thanks to Hone Creek and The Bakery for providing us food and snacks for the Kids Club.

CariBeans Chocolate Tour

On Wednesday of our Environmental Kids Club vacation week, we went to a chocolate tour with the one and only Caribeans. The tour was sponsored by the owner of the Caribeans, which is a really popular place amongst locals and tourists alike to drink coffee and eat locally made organic chocolate. They also offer Tai-Chi, community gatherings such as talks and cacao ceremonies, surf workouts, and unique yoga classes (hint hint, definitely a place you should not miss should you ever visit Puerto Viejo!). We walked through the jungle admiring the greenery as the owner took time to explain every detail of the cacao growing and chocolate making process to our kids. Along the tour we were lucky enough to see tropical snakes and colorful frogs. Towards the end of the tour we arrived at the top of a mountain, where we enjoyed a an incredible look-out over the treetops and the beautiful coast of Puerto Viejo, the view was definitely one that the Kids and the rest of use will not forget.

Towards the end we were able to try the raw cacao and could mix the raw chocolate with several flavors like coconut flakes, sea salt, peanut butter and milk powder. Everyone adored the chocolate! It was very interesting for the kids (and us volunteers) to learn about the process of cacao and how their unique chocolate is made.  We are very thankful that the Caribeans gave us the chance to learn to learn about the magical world of chocolate. Another successful tour during vacation week at Environmental Kids Club!

-Julie, Pratikawelten Volunteer at Planet Conservation


Another shout out and huge thanks to CariBeans for the tour, Vida Sana Bakery for the lunch, and Outdoors Exploradores for the transportation. We are so grateful for businesses like you that give back our wonderful community of Puerto Viejo!


Image result for caribbeans chocolate puerto viejoImage result for vida sana puerto viejo

Daytrip to a Recycling Plant

First day of school vacations in Puerto Viejo, and our first vacation excursion with the Kids Club! On Monday the 3rd of July we went to a recycling center in Bribri, Costa Rica to put the world’s problem of consumption into a real-life perspective for the kids instead of just always talking about it as an abstract issue. The shuttle took three volunteers and twelve kids to the landfills, where the kids were taught about the recycling process of different materials. There were mountains of plastic, glass and cartons, which all comes from Puerto Viejo and neaby towns. The tour was really eye-opening to see where all of our bottles and packaging from our daily garbage goes (which would normally end up in a landfill instead) to be reused and reprocessed. A lesson for everyone and a great kick-start for our two weeks of excursions and fun with the Environmental Kids Club! Stay tuned for more updates of what we will be up to these next couple of weeks!

-Julie, Pratikawelten Volunteer at Planet Conservation

Planet Conservation owes a big thanks to Exploradores Outdoors and Terraventuras for the free transportation to and from the recycling site. Also, another big shout out to PanPay for the food donation so that we could all enjoy a pleasant lunch with the kids! We are so thankful for their support and contributions!


Terraventuras Jungle Expeditions: Cultura, Naturaleza y Aventura / Culture, Nature and Adventure   Image result for pan pay puerto viejoImage result for exploradores outdoors costa rica