The Southern Environmental Association, kicked off this year’s summer camp under the theme “ Education and Climate Change- Widening the scope through the eyes of our youths and coastal communities” As the four days summer camp commenced, July 13th was met with much anticipation while students of Monkey River travelled to Independence Village on July 14th, Seine Bight travelled to Placencia as they gathered at the respective venue to learn and share on topics such as Coral Reefs, Mangroves, Sea turtles and a favorite the Manatees.
While presentations were done, students had a sequence of questions of their own which made the day exciting as they constantly reminded SEA of, when will the tour of the Placencia Lagoon take place? Students were wide awake as they knew the best was save for last. SEA ensured that every participant was motivated to participate and posted a segment of question and answer at the end of each presentation which in turn allowed students to win prizes of school supplies.
The best was certainly left for last as students could not imagine the complexity of the Placencia Lagoon as Mr. Adrian Vernon gave the tour indicating to them the different types of mangroves and its purpose, the manatees which needs the seagrass and lagoon to survive and showed the many developmental changes over the years, most of which are detrimental to the ecosystem such as cutting down mangroves and dredging.
On July 15th, the Summer Camp continued as students travelled from Sittee River to Hopkins Village, with similar enthusiasm to share and learn. Campers participated and won prizes and with the expert assistance of Mr. Rudolph Coleman the grand tour of the Hopkins Lagoon was one of history which took participants back to 1941.
Mr. Coleman highlighted that his ancestors lived in what was called “Commerce Bight” a community of about a hundred people who used the lagoon extensively for fishing and most areas around the lagoon for farming. He also highlighted how mahogany and logwood was transported through the lagoon on a raft setting and how the women travelled many miles in canoes to get fresh water for drinking and at the same time do laundry and spend the day with family and friends. He indicated that the sand bar which divided the lagoon to the open sea opened naturally as nature took its course but today with much development in the area it had to be open manually because of floods.
On July 16th, participants of Hopkins, to our surprise were strangers to the Hopkins Lagoon as many have never ventured to learn and see what was once used by their ancestors. Mr. Coleman emphasized to the children that their grandparents left many history in the lagoon and that they must seek to learn more of it whenever possible.
The Southern Environmental Association definitely met its goal and objectives for this year’s summer camp. It ensured that at least twenty five (25) children of each of its stakeholder communities benefited by participating, and with climate change in the forefront the camp focused on what happens if we don’t do our part to prevent some of the detrimental changes to our environment.
SEA would like to say many thanks to the following who made this camp a success. The SEA staff that supported, parents who allowed their child to be a part, the cooks who prepared snacks and lunch, both Turtle Inn Resort and Splash Dive shop in Placencia for providing their boats for the tour of the lagoon. A special thanks to Mr. Adrian Vernon and Mr. Rudolph Coleman who assisted with presentations on mangroves and manatees and for sharing their knowledge of the respective lagoon systems. To Mr. Clement Martinez and Hubert Miranda who donated their boat for the tour in the Hopkins Lagoon.
Special thanks to all those persons who assisted in coordinating this event and took time out to be with the participants. SEA also collaborated with the Punta Gorda Town Council on a one day summer camp in Punta Gorda Town.