School in Nature has started last weekend. A great team was involved in its organization and thanks to it, the first of the 5 youth camps was a success. A big thanks to Isaac and Rita (renewable energy students, TF volunteers for 4 weeks and special guests in School in Nature), Yanick (School in Nature veteran camp leader), Melanie (local volunteer in Boa Esperança camp, School in Nature camp leader), Domingos (Protected Areas Park Guard – Boa Esperança Camp), Lynette (Peace Corps, Turtle Foundation volunteer for 2 consecutives seasons, camp leader in School in Nature), Julie and Ronny (Boa Esperança Camp coordinators) and to everyone from Boa Esperança team for all the help.

„The School in Nature opened with a scurry of activity and planning at Boa Esperança camp on Friday, August 3rd, as 23 youth from Sal Rei arrived to learn about turtles and the environment. Special guests from Lisbon University – Portugal, Rita Almeida and Isaac Carrelo provided the camp theme of renewable energy in addition to lots of turtle and beach fun.

The campers were divided into 4 teams, named after turtles found in the sea around Cape Verde, and competed throughout the duration of the camp. Each team was assigned a Turtle Foundation Cape Verdean and International Volunteer partner to help their team compete and participate in camp activities. Marine Club Hotel kindly provided food for the participants.

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The arrival at the camp

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Lets start with a game!

The first evening the campers were introduced to turtles in a powerpoint presentation done by Ronny and Amanda about turtle nesting and conservation work. Then, two teams got to experience their first night patrol on the beach led by Lynette and Melanie, while Amanda, Rita, Isaac and Domingos remained at the camp with the rest of the campers to watch films and music videos and get aquainted. The lucky junior rangers on the beach patrol saw numerous tracks from turtles, and when they reached the shipwreck near the end of the beach, they eagerly witnessed a turtle making 4 attempts before she finally dug a nest and laid her eggs. A couple boys got to put their new ranger training into practice as they crossed the tracks in the sand to notify later patrols that this nest had been recorded.

Saturday morning began early with a military style workout led by the camp troups on the beach. After breakfast, the kids had no time to stop before they were competing in a fast paced beach cleanup to make the biggest pile of trash. When everyone was exhausted from a marvelous job that left the once trash ridden beach beautiful and clean, we all headed to the water for a couple hours of skimboard, bodysurfing, and lots of beach fun.

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Exercise early in the morning

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Race to clean the beach

An afternoon lesson on renewable energy by Rita and Isaac was followed by a series of beach games, turtle sand sculptures and swimming. Saturday night, the groups switched for patrol and in camp fun. The two teams who had not yet patrolled found it well worth the wait when their patrol yielded three turtles, including two nests. We made it back from patrol not long before the rains came, and awoke Sunday morning to a cloudy day, disappointingly preventing Rita and Isaac from teaching the campers to make solar cars on schedule.

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Isaac and Rita talking about renewable energy in Cape Verde

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Football match

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Having fun in the waves

Fortunately, the sun came out in the afternoon, and the cars were a huge success. Two teams worked on each car, designing it with recycled materials. One group made a sturdy if slow boxy (juicebox) car while the other opted for a speedy milk carton race car that required frequent repairs. Races were held, but in the end a tie was announced!

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Building the solar cars

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Testing the inventions

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small repairs were necessary

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Isaac proud of his team

The camp ended with some more beach fun and announcements of winners and thanks to all participants for their hard work and enthusiasm making the school in nature a fun filled and educational weekend for leaders, volunteers, and campers alike.“ Lynette

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Congrats for the good work!

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Time to say goodbye

(Originally posted/written by: Amanda Dutra)