From tiny tots to sixteen-year-olds, all of the kids who attended the Friends of the Environment Summer Camps learned about local habitats- their function, their location, and their importance within the island eco-system, tied together with fun activities. Many of them are already looking forward to coming back next year.
Besides class tutoring on the habitats of local flora and fauna, on which they were quizzed, they also went on several field trips usually comprising swimming in either the sea or blue holes. Some of the trips included the Saw Mill Sink Blue Hole, the Creek at Camp Abaco, and Mermaid’s Reef.
The first two camps, the first one from June 26 to 30, the second one from July 3 to 7, catered to boys and girls ages six to nine.
The first group learned about the eco-system by visiting mangrove creek, particularly the one located near Camp Abaco.
They were also taught about the different types of reefs and their importance by swimming and snorkeling around Mermaid’s Reef.
The children were taught about the historical importance of Blue Holes on day 3, as they viewed fossils found in Saw Mill Sink Blue Hole, which are kept at Friends of the Environment, and later went on to swim in the Blue Hole.
The cave eco-system was explained as they visited Dan and Ralph’s Caves.
Giving back to the environment was celebrated on the last day of camp by a clean-up of Crossing Beach. On that last day of camp the weather was perfect for a cooling swim, which they did after filling the garbage bags.
The second group followed basically the same schedule but Conservation was the focus of the observations. The importance of fresh water, the conservation of historical sites, and the importance of bio-diversity were all covered during the first days of the session, which also ended at the Crossing Beach.
The Juniors, ages ten to twelve were treated to a Fishing Camp from July 11 to 14. After learning the techniques of fishing in class they went to South Side to practice and spent the remainder of the week in Man-O-War where they practiced fishing from the Government Dock after a brief classroom session at the school.
Sea Beans was the theme of the fourth camp which catered to children ages three to five. They spent most of the time in the Learning Center, drawing, playing, creating things with play-dough, learning what is a plant, what is an animal, and what is a coral reef. They watched videos to illustrate the questions. A field trip to Crossing Beach on the last day added some spice to the indoor routine of the previous days.
From July 24 to 28, the teens were allowed to play Nature Detectives during the last camp held.
They witnessed the dissection of a sea bird stomach done by Kristal Ambrose from The Bahamas Plastic Movement. They found out that the bird had ingested many small plastic pieces.
The teens learned how to conduct scientific research by first formulating an hypothesis and then verifying the results in the field. Most of their research had to do with salinity: salinity in the Mangrove Creek versus salinity in the ocean, salinity on the reef versus salinity on the shore, and salinity in different Blue Holes.
The first research was conducted at the creek near Camp Abaco, the second at Mermaid’s Reef. The group took a trip to the beach at Casuarina Point to look for micro plastic pieces and on the fourth day they measured and compared the salinity in several blue holes and caves.
Giving Back and Fun Day took place at Crossing Beach where garbage pick up was followed with games and swimming.
By the end of the fifth camp, Educational Instructor Cassandra Abraham was ready to return to her native Grand Cay for a few days’ rest. Not a complete rest, however, as she held a three-day camp there as well for a large group of 41 children ages three to thirteen.
The children met at Grand Cay All Age School. There they learned how to become a friend of the environment as well as the importance of bio-diversity. Greg Cephas and Kristin Russell took turns helping with the camp.
Macy Yust, Liam Croft, Lianna Burrows, Da Shane Knowles, Ebony Hanna, and Jaro Curry helped Mrs. Abraham to run the Friends of the Environment Summer Camps.