Saturday June 15, 2019
Hello Family & Loved Ones!
All students have arrived at our gorgeous home base in Junquillal, Costa Rica. Many had been traveling since late last night, but everyone is now happily in the rooms they’ll call home for the next 10 days.
Those that got here early walked on the beach, completed the swim test and hung out by the pool. Many got in during the afternoon and played games at the airport until their bus was full. By the time sunset came around, we were only without eight students. With their arrival at 9pm, we were finally complete!! We can’t wait for the adventures, service learning, lifelong memories, and deep friendships that await.
Pura Vida!! More updates to come.
Your Beachside Service Adventure Team,
Michael, Daya, Nora, Sergio, Kevin, Jackie, Jacob, Richyth & Cassie
More photos from yesterday (arrival day)!
Sunday June 16, 2019
Orientation Day of Beachside Service Adventure Session 1 was a giant success! We kicked off the our summer with a welcome circle including some quick Spanish learning, an active game, and a mindful moment. Then we announced service projects; students will be working with local organizations painting schools, cleaning up beaches, replanting trees, building hatcheries for sea turtles, restoring the watershed, 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. Pura Vida! 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 small 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 having a great time!
After a review of water safety and the final swim test, we met up to watch the sunset and walk on the beach. We enjoyed a peaceful 6pm sunset, ate dinner in our new friend groups and then all the students had free time to relax, walk around the hotel, and play games. In the evening, mentor groups met up for a talk about values and to make our community contracts.
It has been a very long day, but we are so excited to meet our local community organizations and start service learning tomorrow!
Monday June 17, 2019
Last night we announced the first pillar of leadership: Living our values. Afterwards, we split up into our mentor groups and did an activity to discover our personal values and brainstormed on some group values and examples that we thought were important. Today we had an early start with breakfast at 6:45 am, and then we went straight to our service sites with our mentor groups.
The group at Junquillal School painted the walls, and on their off time, they played soccer with the kids. The group at ROW (restoring our watershed) learned about preserving water using watershed and vegetation. They also planted and transferred saplings. The group at VerdiAzul started their post/fence making process by sanding down logs. They even got to see a baby turtle make its way to the ocean to start its new life!!
At Paraiso School, students cleared all the weeds in order to plant new seeds, which the surrounding monkeys found very interesting. They also got to watch the 6-year-olds in their dance class, which was adorable!! At Avellanas, students picked up trash on the beautiful and famous beach with charismatic local leader Frank. At Marbella, students sanded wood and prepared signs about caring for the environment. They also saw some howler monkeys!! After coming back for lunch, we took some time to get ready for the beach!! We all went to the local beach and got to swim among the huge waves and play some volleyball with the mentors.
Later, we were fortunate enough to hear from a local who has lived in Junquillal for over 30 years. She talked about Costa Rican culture and history, specifically about the Guanacaste province. After that, most of the kids took our nightly trip to see the sunset over the beach while current leaders of the day and tomorrow’s leaders of the day debriefed. Finally, the night ended with Chow circle where leaders of the day presented the shout outs, schedule and tomorrow’s announcements, as well as the leader of the day knighting for tomorrow’s leaders of the day.
-Alex W., Stella C., Olivia K.
Tuesday June 18, 2019
Last night in mentor groups we had a mock debate about a controversial issue in a beach town not far from us. Some represented Hotel Riu, a conglomerate company from Spain that is accused of environmental and human rights violations. Some represented MINAE, the ministry of the environment in Costa Rica. Some represented Fraternidad Guanacasteco, an organization representing the local people. And some represented La Municipalidad, the local (and possibly corrupt) government. The discussions got very heated, but many were able to come up with sensible agreements for a very complex problem.
This morning we got off to an early start getting on the buses at 7AM. It was a 2 hour drive to the Adventure tours. It’s tubing time! Everyone got their tubes and walked down to the rapids. It was an hour long float down the river speeding through the heavy currents and over the waterfalls.
After tubing down the river we had an amazing lunch of fruits, pasta, chicken, beef, corn, etc. After lunch we got time in the Gift Shop for souvenirs before heading to the second excursion of the day, the hot springs!
A quick shuttle ride and hike brought us to three natural hot springs of varying temperatures. Along with the volcano heated pools was exfoliating mud to relax everyone before the long day of service tomorrow.
After a couple hours of unwinding with our natural spa treatment we headed back. Halfway through our drive home, one of our buses got a flat tire… but it was a blessing in disguise for us AND the man selling coconuts by the side of the road. We got a much needed car break with refreshing “pipa fria” (cold coconut water). By the time everyone had theirs, the bus was back up and running!
We got back to home base just in time for a beautiful sunset and dinner.
Wednesday June 19, 2019
After a long morning of service work, we took a cultural excursion to the Chorotega Eco-Museum to learn about the indigenous tribes that once ruled this land. We had a pottery class to make our very own bowls using traditional techniques.
In mentor groups, we discussed how to “connect our heart to our head” when supporting a community that’s not our own. In other words, how can we be responsible in the way that we provide service, making sure that we maximize positive outcomes and minimize the possible negative consequences of our actions?
Thursday June 20, 2019
Beachside started our 6th day with a zip-lining adventure and pool activities. Some students had the opportunity to zip-line first while others stayed back and enjoyed pool time with music and games. After every student had their opportunity to zip line, the afternoon came just in time because it poured showers right when we got back to home base and stopped right before we started service.
Paraiso gardened and helped students study
Avellanas picked up trash on the beach and some local school kids helped them out.
Marbella went to a local school, planted some trees, cleaned up the beach, made signs and played some soccer with local school kids to end a hard day.
Verdiazul went to the beach and dug holes for the new turtle hatchery. They put posts in the ground for the fencing.
ROW planted trees and worked on community beautification.
Junquillal School continued painting the local schoolhouse.
Friday June 21, 2019
Our mentor group topic last night revolved around the well known ted talk “The Danger Of A Single Story” by Chimamanda Adichie. The students learned how known first impressions can’t be the only story. There is always more to someone, something deeper inside the surface. We need to unite and dig deep instead of hopping on the bandwagon and believing everything we hear. We need to stand up and see for ourselves, because most of the time, the single story is false, yet so many people believe it to be the only truth.
Today at service:
-VerdiAzul picked up trash and painted at the beach
-Marbella picked up trash at the beach planted signs, and made dream catchers near the pool
-Junquillal finished painting the upstairs of the school and started prep work on the first floor
-RESTORE OUR WATERSHED volunteered at the local school to help with their garden and water filtration with planting new vegetation.
-Paraiso hoed and plowed the garden to prepare it for seed planting. In addition, we started out murals, table and tire paintings in order to beautify the school.
-VerdiAvzul: Our service started at the recycling center. Here we helped sort the recycle and trash of the community. After we finished, we returned to VerdiAzul building and planned out our activities for tomorrow’s service with the local children.
In the afternoon, we had “rally day” where we separated into three groups. One group learned traditional cooking in the house of Doña Yolanda who has lived there for over 50 years. One group played traditional games with local leader Frank. One group played a game of soccer with local kids. We rotated every hour so that we all did every activity.
-by Christine & Sophia
Saturday June 22, 2019
Today, sadly, brought an end to our service projects. We began the day by heading out to our service sites, and finishing what was left to be done. We are all sad to have to leave the projects we had grown so close to behind, but it was truly amazing to see all the progress we made from day one.
After we left the service site, we changed into our swimsuits and headed out to the beach to soak up some sun while enjoying the waves. Some of us went out in the ocean to swim, while others stayed back and just enjoyed the sand between our toes.
When we all had gotten enough vitamin D for the day, we took our treck back to basecamp where we changed out of our swimsuits and into our finest dance attire! We received lessons on traditional Costa Rican dances from our two phenomenal instructors, Leo & Sai. It’s probably more than fair to say that most of us had sweat all the way through our shirts. Nonetheless, it was an amazing experience.
We ended the day with our usual sunset watching on the beach and chow circle where we discussed our plans for tomorrow. There was a lot of the word “last” written on the schedule, which was a tad sad to see. We all have had such amazing experiences here, have made so many new friends, and have made so many memories we will take home with us. No matter how sad we may all be to leave soon, we still have one more jam-packed day of fun ahead of us!
Today was an amazing last day of an amazing trip. We took a trip on the Catamaran, stopping for snorkeling and lunch. We had an impromptu beach hour in Tamarindo, where waves were calm and the whole group could finally all be in the ocean at the same time! We had a local vendors set up at our resort so we could load up on locally-made souvenirs. We had an anonymous appreciation circle where we could tap our friends that have impacted us in so many ways. We had our last mentor groups and discussed everything that we’ve learned, how to take action, and set a goal. And finally, we had a pool party that we never wanted to end!
It has been an incredible 10 days that we’ll remember forever! We hope all students a safe trip home on Monday, and continue on with a fulfilled life of service, learning and leadership!!
Lots of love from your BSA team,
Cassie, Daya, Jackie, Jacob, Kevin, Michael, Nora, Richyth & Sergio