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 acro yoga 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 on 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 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!

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!

-Julie, Pratikawelten Volunteer at Planet Conservation

Daytrip to a Recycling Plant

The 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 nearby 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

Kid’s Club Visits the Jaguar Rescue Center

It has been a while since the cyber world has heard what Planet Conservation has been up to here in Costa Rica! This past month has been a whirlwind of activities, events, and nonstop play at the Environmental Kid’s Club. However, last week was an extra special week in that the kids were able to learn about wildlife conservation through a field trip to the Jaguar Rescue Center.

The Jaguar Rescue Center is a wildlife foundation here in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica that works with various indigenous animals to recuperate and restore native wildlife that has been hurt or injured. These animals would normally be left to die or would be at further risk of endangerment without the help of the rescue center.

With the help of the Rescue Center’s generosity, our Kid’s Club Participants were able to take a tour of the center for no charge. The tour took us through to see animals of all kinds; big, small, fluffy and slimy; the kids were enamored. Some of the animals included orphaned sloths and monkeys, one-winged and eyed owls, whitetail deer, snakes who were being babysat for their owners, just to name a few. Although the conditions of these animals sound disheartening, the rescue center explained to us (in simple terms for the children) how the rehabilitation process works and the average amount of time that is taken to successfully release the animals back into the wild. While some, unfortunately, will never have the ability to return to the wild, the majority of animals there are given a second chance at life and are successfully released back into their natural habitats.

The tour seemed to have an impact on the kids who were full of questions and curiosity, and it was obvious that many of them realized the importance of conserving the biodiversity that Costa Rica holds. Planet Conservation gives a huge thanks to the Jaguar Rescue Center for the inspiring tour and for leaving a grand impression on our kids!

If you ever find yourself in Puerto Viejo, be sure to check it out. You can find more information or donate to the cause here: Jaguar Rescue Fundation.

Fun-Filled Days at Environmental Kid’s Club

As you may have seen in our last week’s post, we have been busy with Environmental Kid’s Club recently! Each day at Kid’s Club, we have been trying to introduce an activity that is different, educational, and entertaining to attract more children and to encourage those who already come to keep coming.

Last week, we had cooking classes, music workshops, English tutoring, agriculture projects with plant identification, and a movie night showing an informative cartoon; all the while teaching environmental education. Our volunteers also came up with some new games and activities to teach the children ways to save the planet, specifically with water conservation.

Although our focus is primarily on the environment and conservation, we also like to encourage creativity through topics that can be educational, or that can supplement what they are learning in public schools. Which, is the purpose of all of these workshops that we’ve been testing out.

With the cooking class, the kids learned how to make healthy (and yummy!) cookies made with organic ingredients:

The music workshop, given by Pablo (a local music teacher in Puerto Viejo), taught the group at Kid’s Club how to play various beats on percussion instruments while making silly songs to play along to:

One of our German volunteers (who is also fluent in English) did some tutoring for some of the kids who had an upcoming English exam at school:

I, myself, gave a course on agriculture and plant identification, which was followed by related games and a movie night:

The movie was one about the dangers of pesticides, depicted in a children-friendly and educational way, which you can find here if you’re interested in checking it out yourself:

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These workshops and activities, after having been fruitful with our local kids, will continue to be integrated into our daily schedule at Environmental Kid’s Club. Each week will be characterized by new topics and activities. Stay tuned for more details and activities to come!

Kid’s Club Field Trip to Bribri

Here at Planet Conservation, we started the week off with an excursion to Bribri, a nearby indigenous reserve. We decided to do another take on environmental education with the kids by doing a medicinal plant and cacao tour in Bribri, all in hopes of emphasizing the importance of conserving the plant species we’d be learning about.

At the reserve, our tour guide took us through his small property showing us various medicinal plants and ways we can utilize different natural resources in our everyday lives. Some ways he demonstrated to use the natural environment were more practical than others in this day and age, but that’s not to say that they weren’t all remarkably informative (the kids seemed to find all of them fascinating!).

Turmeric, something I was already familiar with for cooking, I learned can also be used for beauty purposes like painting nails or makeup. Achiote, another plant used for its intense and staining color, can also be used as lipstick and face paint. I can attest to their staining strength in after having been used for a natural make-up demonstration; my lips were stained bright red and my eyebrows were yellow the rest of the day (not sure that those would be my preferential colors in the future, ha!). Other than natural beautifying purposes, they both can be used for dying cloth or rope, which the indigenous still do to this day.

We also learned how to strip big leaves for their strong, natural string; which can be used for weaving, rope, or making hammocks that are so common here in Costa Rica. The guide also pointed out to us the natural sources for cinnamon and nutmeg, which our noses could not get enough of! The shells for the nutmeg could also be used to make charms for necklaces, which our tour guide created a dolphin out of and later gifted it to one of the kids.

The rest of the tour was filled with other interesting activities such as trying out our hand at shooting one of their handmade (and extremely large) bow and arrows, spotting poisonous frogs, trying to make animal noises with folded leaves (We weren’t so successful!) and blowing horn sounds with the conch shell (Not so successful either!).

But I think the most favored part of the tour, was the part where we learned how to make chocolate from raw cacao. The group was taken through the whole process; spotting the tree that produces cacao, seeing how the cacao beans are dried, roasted, and ground, then melted into a pot. Which, in the end, we were all delighted to be able to drink our raw cacao product from our handmade cups in the hut of the indigenous.

By the end of the excursion, it was easy to see that the trip was a hit among the kids, that they all really enjoyed learning about the ways and customs of the Bribri. The tour was the most perfect way to combine environmental education and fun, the way that we think learning should always be!

Also, big thanks and great appreciation to Le Cameleon Hotel here in Puerto Viejo, for donating lunch for the day. We wouldn’t be able to achieve the things we do without donors like them!