It was our final evening as we gathered around a small table in our lodge. The students took turns talking about their favorite memories, locations, and activities, as we passed around the bandana one final time before cutting and dividing it. I looked around and couldn’t believe the changes I saw in these young adults. Their features, still engraved in my memory, were exactly the same as 3 weeks ago, yet their mannerisms and conversations had drastically matured. Each student had become an individual in just 3 short weeks, something that takes teens years to accomplish.
Growth and maturity are just two outcomes of the EarthConnect program. EarthConnect is a dynamic summer abroad experience for teens, 13-18, that goes beyond camp or a traveling tour. The eco-immersion program started in Costa Rica but has since expanded to Ecuador and Spain. Each program dives into the intricate layers of history, geography, politics, agriculture, culinary traditions and natural environments that create such a unique culture in each country. EarthConnect is the perfect pace between an overnight camp, always in one location, and a traveling tour, always on the move. Yet the expansive knowledge gained, rich connections made with both peers and locals, and the incredible adventures experienced, make our program incomparable to any other.
We do eco-immersion on our Costa Rica program by visiting one of the most biologically diverse places on earth, while working hand in hand with a local biologist researching dolphins and frogs. We hear his stories of how he became fascinated by his back yard, the Gulfo Dulce and primary rainforests, and his neighbors, the dolphins and frogs that surround him. We become an active participant in his research project while soaking in the extreme beauty that surrounds us.
In Spain, stay with local Andalucian families as we become apart of their families. We will walk to school with our brothers and sisters and cook with the moms, while learning about the importance of food in the Spanish culture.
We take advantage of being outdoors in the mountains and rivers, which is a large part of the Spanish lifestyle, and getting behind the scenes of important cultural components such as cuisine and music.
In Ecuador, we connect with a group of local teens while exploring the country side by side. Discover the meaning of teamwork as we travel six days without stepping foot in a car. Our feet, bikes and canoes will be our modes of transportation! Breathe in the fresh air of the mystical cloud forests and share stories with our peers on what life is like as an Ecuadorian versus American teen.
These are just a few examples of eco-immersion on our EarthConnect programs. Continue to follow the blog to hear more details on some of the sights, scenes and smells! If you have specific questions please leave a comment or contact Wendy, firstname.lastname@example.org.