Tuesday July 23, 2019
Pura Vida, Family & Loved Ones!
Our final students arrived late last night at our gorgeous home base in Junquillal, Costa Rica. We are so excited to have our largest session of the summer here and settled! With 58 students (and 11 staff), the energy is incredible. We can already tell that this will be a very special session.
Today was Orientation Day and we kicked it off with a welcome circle including some quick Spanish learning, an active game, and a mindful moment. Then we announced our seven service projects; students will be working with local organizations cleaning up beaches, planting trees, restoring the watershed, painting schools, and beautifying the community.
Every student successfully completed the orientation photo scavenger hunt learning about environmental risks, inventing the perfect disciplinary policy, hysterically acting out “code of conduct” skits, and learning about Costa Rican culture and how to be respectful travelers. All students also met their service/mentor groups today and started to discover the leadership curriculum focused on GLA’s leadership pillars.
We talked in our newly formed “mentor groups” about what leadership means to us and when we have been leaders. Then the “Bucket of Dreams” activity was a very fun (and often frustrating) way to actively learn about teamwork, support, and the different styles of leadership. While students wrote in their journals, mentors completed the health checks with each student to make sure everyone is happy, healthy, and enjoying themselves.
After a review of safety procedures, we took a walk to the beach to watch the beautiful sunset! We had our first “Chow Circle” where the leaders of the day introduced tomorrow’s Leadership Pillar, “Live Your Values”. We ate dinner in our new friend groups and had free time to relax, walk around the hotel, and play games. In the evening, mentor groups met up for a talk about what we value personally and as a group. We put those values to the test and came up with our own community contracts that we’ll abide by for the next 10 days.
It has been a very long day, but we are so excited to meet our local community organizations and start service learning tomorrow!
Your BSA Team,
Michael, Daya, Bianca, Blake, Cassie, Dana, Drake, Kelly, Lauren, Nora, & Sergio
Wednesday July 24, 2019
The first couple days of our trip have been a blast! Day 1 was a long travel day for everyone, but we made it safely to the Ecoresort and had tons of fun exploring and playing get-to-know-you games. Everyone was exhausted and most were fast asleep by 9 pm (except for the group that got in at midnight!) We kicked off day 2 with breakfast at 7, and then got into competition groups for a fun scavenger hunt around the resort. After that, we broke up into our mentor groups- the groups we’ll be doing service work and leadership discussions with all week. Both days we watched a beautiful sunset from the beach, which we’ll be doing every evening of the program!
Today (day 3) was our first day of service! Each group hopped on a bus and headed to their site to meet up with the organization coordinators and begin working. The Clara Vista group went on a walk with a bunch of local kids to pick up trash alongside roads throughout their community, and then built and decorated hanging gardens made of plastic bottles.
Another group headed to Paraiso School, where they painted murals on the outside walls, dug holes to add tires to the playground, and planted trees.
The group from Restore Our Watershed (ROW) spent the morning at Escuela de Florida with the students making mud balls filled with microorganisms that will eventually be thrown into the rivers to naturally clean the water.
The VerdiAzul group cleaned up lots of trash on the beaches, sorted and counted it, and then learned a new game that they will eventually teach the local children.
Similarly, the group that worked at Avellanas spent the majority of their time doing beach cleanup, and then got to play a game of fútbol with the locals once their work was complete.
Finally, there were two groups that spent the morning at Marbella. One group cleaned, sanded, painted, and assembled signs that they will eventually put up throughout the town, and the other walked several miles along the beautiful shoreline picking up plastic and other types of trash.
After our morning of service, the whole group took a trip to La Playa Negra, where we spent two hours hanging out in the waves and enjoying the warm, clear water! Then we got to hear from a wonderful guest speaker, who told us all about the geography, history, and culture of Costa Rica. Overall, it was an awesome day of service and fun!
Additionally, each day we are given one leadership pillar to focus on, and one “leader of the day” is chosen from each mentor group to present that day’s pillar to everyone at chow circle. Last night’s pillar was “live your values”. This means immerse yourself in the things that you find important, surround yourself with things that interest you, and promote positive change in any way you can. To support this idea, we challenged everyone to ask at least one other person what their main values are, and in mentor group we created a tree with the group’s values as the roots, goals as the branches, and ways to meet the goals in the trunk.
We’re all having a great time and can’t wait to tell you all about it! Pura Vida!!
Your leaders of the day,
Caroline, Sophia C., Kiki, Veda, Lily, Taylor, Jesse, and Damyon
Blog Post by Caroline Strahorn and Sophia Callender
Thursday July 25, 2019
Last night, our leadership pillar was courage. Our challenge was to have a conversation in spanish with a local Costa Rican. Then, in mentor groups we discussed responsible photography and social media usage when traveling or volunteering in a place that’s not your home.
This morning in service, groups filled bags with dirt and fertilizer, and planted saplings, cleaned up the beach, went to the recycling center, or attended a local school’s celebration of the 195th anniversary of Guanacaste joining Costa Rica.
Then, in the afternoon we participated in the festivals, went to a museum about the indigenous people and culture of this area, and played soccer with the local soccer team (and won, 3-2)!
When we got back, we watched the sunset together, had chow circle, and knighted the new Leaders of the Day.
At night, we celebrated Diya’s birthday with a song and some cake, and then we played a thrilling game of Cops & Robbers around the grounds of the eco-resort, complete with thumping battle music in the background.
Friday July 26, 2019
¡Pura vida! Hola families, I am Abby Guttman, your GLA blogger for today, coming to you straight from gorgeous Costa Rica. The leadership pillar from last night was: connect and influence. The amazing leaders of the day (including yours truly) created the heartfelt challenge of talking to two new people in the GLA program. Then in mentor group we switched things up a little bit. Instead of going off into our mentor groups, we as a whole GLA group gathered in the ranchito and watched this inspirational ted talk, featuring Chimamanda Adichie. She shared her knowledge on “the dangers of a single story”. I personally found her talk very
eye-opening and something we can all learn from. After watching the video we went off in our mentor groups and discussed our thoughts on the video.
This morning instead of doing service right away, we went… drum roll please… ZIP LINING!! We drove all the way up this beautiful mountain and zip lined down 11 different zip lines to the ground. And yes, you heard me right, 11 DIFFERENT ZIP LINES!! I had so much fun and it was definitely one of my highlights of the trip so far.
This afternoon in service we:
Row: Planted seeds in a local nursery and worked on a game to play with the same children tomorrow.
VerdiAzul: Worked at the turtle hatchery and replaced the sand from the previous turtle egg laying locations.
Marbella: One group made signs about recycling and preserving water. The other group sorted micro plastic from the beach and made signs with it. “Also Noah, Keo and Jared killed it” – Nora the amazing mentor.
Clara Vista(aka the best group): We painted a bunch of signs to put around the neighborhood, as well as playing a quick game of soccer with the local kids at the end. Also Sergio and I made the best sign.
Paraiso: Painted a mural outside the school we’re working with, and dug holes to put tires in for the kids to jump in. We also set up a chicken fence.
Avellanas: We walked on a black sanded beach picking up trash. We walked through the rocks, cliffs and cactuses on the beach and concluded our trash cleanup with a rewarding game of volleyball with our local friend Frank, who guides us in our beach cleanup everyday. We also enjoyed some strawberry and pineapple smoothies courtesy of a cafe on the beach.
As the day started to end we watched the sunset together on the beautiful beach watching the waves crash, enjoying the company of our new peers and loving the soft black sand on our feet. Then we knighted the new leaders of the day.
We’ve already met the half way mark and it feels like I’ve only been here for two days. I’m loving every second of this life-changing experience and don’t want it to end. ¡Pura Vida!
Your leaders of the day,
Abby Guttman, Hailey Callan, Mia Rowan, Megan Hager, Voss Schwitter, Madison Holden, Mia Webster and DJ
Blog post by: Abby Guttman
Saturday July 27, 2019
I’m Indiana Pellegrino, a student participate in GLA. For Day 7 we had lots of fun during service, mentor groups, and our first traditional dance lesson!
– The leadership pillar was discover solutions
—> the challenge attached to that was if you encountered a problem you should find a new solution to solve it so you don’t get frustrated/ give up
During service hours the groups did the following:
– That group went to a local beach in Marbella and planted trees. They also planted signs that we painted and made and dug them into the ground for people to recognize. Then they did beach clean up and sorted through trash.
Row & Verdiazul
– Went to a school and played games with locals kids and taught them about the water cycle. At the end they threw the river cleaning mud balls into the river.
– went to a beach and walked 4 miles up and down picking up trash. At the end we had friendly ping pong and darts competitions to create bonds between group members.
– working with different gardens and building fences around them. They also painted murals and signs. Plus they finished adding playground equipment using recycled tires.
– They Planted trees and also planted seeds in recycling bottles. They played games with kids and made sure they understood by translating Spanish to English. To finish it off they played a soccer match.
That afternoon we did the following:
After service we ate lunch plus had free time. We went to a nearby beach for a couple hours, then we learned how to salsa/ traditional dance! Michael, the director of this program, and two local dancing instructors led us through multiple dances. They also gave us a special demonstration in their typical dress. At the end, we had an epic dance off.
Finally, to end the day we all watched the sunset together and had our daily leader of the day ceremony where the current leaders knighted the new ones!
Sunday July 28, 2019
Last night the leadership pillar was Take Action. Our challenge was to take anything we learned from this experience so far and apply it. An example of this could be that over the course of the first week some of us learned better Spanish so in order to apply it we can speak to the locals in Spanish.
Today was a full day of adventure. For the first half of the day we went tubing down a river. For almost an hour we floated on our tubes as the current took us downstream while also going through some crazy fun rapids. For the second half, we went in hot springs and even got a chance to cover ourselves in some exfoliating mud. The hot springs reached up to 102 degrees Fahrenheit, but it was surprisingly relaxing and I’m sure most of us can agree.
In the afternoon, we watched the sunset as a group and knighted the new leaders of the day.
Looking forward to having more fun times like today.
Your leaders of the day,
Zach, Andi, Charlie, Jamie, Jared, Bhavana, and Kaylin
Blog post by Kaylin Huffman
Monday July 29, 2019
Hey Parents, what’s up!
The leadership pillar was inclusion.
Our challenge was to meet two new people and introduce them to two of our roommates.
Then in mentor group we discussed the pros and cons of volunteering for us and our families, and the positive or negative ways we could be affecting the communities we work in.
This morning in service,
ROW, worked as a team and planted trees. We used materials such as salt, water, and the trees itself. By the end of the hard working day, we planted a total of 93 trees.
VerdiAzul spent the morning working with compost, and preparing it to break down. This job consisted of sifting the compost through a large sifter, and then removing any excess rocks or plastic for usage.
The Paraiso group spent the first part of the morning with the kindergarteners in the school. They taught the kids how to plant seeds and water them, then later watched and learned a traditional dance. After the kindergarteners left, the group finished up last minute painting and enjoyed rice with corn and chicken and black corn juice that the teachers had prepared for them.
Today at service, Marbella walked across one of the local beaches picking up trash and making the beach look better, and because that didn’t take the entire time for service, we swam in the ocean after and bought pastries from a local vendor
In Avellanas (1) we participated in beach cleanup today. We walked for 2 miles along the beach and picked up plastic and other non-compostable items. After our work was done we enjoyed time at the beach for the rest of our service time.
Today in Avellanas (2) we planted mangrove trees along the beach. We also put up signs saying things like “pick up trash” and “pura vida” a native saying. We worked along side local organizations to do this.
The group that worked with Clara Vista today spent their service time helping out wherever was needed. From picking up trash after a local soccer game the day before, to painting signs there was quite a bit going on. Before the service time ended, the group was treated to a pool party at the house of the founder of the organization which was beyond exciting.
In the afternoon:
There were three groups that rotated between three activities including a cooking class in a local’s home, “fútbol” (soccer) with local school kids , and a series of costa rican games. During cooking, we made our own empanadas and tortillas. In the games we played and competed with local children.
We watched the sunset together and knighted the new Leaders of the Day.
Your leaders of the day: Julienne Nguyen, Hannah Davis, Kristen, Nick Lopez, Henry Eisenbeis, Trip Magdovitz, Diya Aneja, and Keo Kiriakos
Blog Post by Hannah Davis and Julienne Nguyen
Yesterday was the perfect last day to an amazing trip. We took a trip on the Catamaran, stopping for snorkeling and lunch off the coast. Dolphins, turtles, and octopuses were spotted along the way! We had a last beach day in Tamarindo, where waves were calm and relaxing! We had a local goods market, complete with live music, set up at our resort so we could load up on locally-made souvenirs.
We came together in the evening for an “appreciation circle” where we anonymously tapped our friends that have impacted us in so many ways. We had our last mentor groups to set group goals for going home, talked about our inner critics, and wrote each other cards. And finally, we had a pool party with music and games!!
It has been an incredible 10 days that we’ll remember forever! We hope all students a safe trip home, and continue on with a fulfilled life of service, learning and leadership!!
Lots of love from your BSA team,
Bianca, Blake, Cassie, Dana, Daya, Drake, Kelly, Lauren, Michael, Nora, & Sergio