BLOG FOR JULY 9, 2021
Good evening family, friends and those following along with our Atmosphere Academy student group on the Global Leadership Adventures program in Florida. Welcome to the program blog!
All of our students and chaperones who landed from the flight to Tampa today have been picked up by GLA staff members at the airport, and have arrived safely at our Home Base here in Venice, Florida.
After a busy day of travel, everyone is looking forward to our first full day on-program on Saturday. Plans include service-learning on the Florida shores with Turtle Defenders in the morning, alongside program orientation and other fun activities throughout the day as we get this incredible immersive experience started.
Due to a later-than-expected arrival time, photos of the students will be posted here on the blog on Saturday! Stay tuned for more on our adventures here in Florida.
-Brett and the GLA Team
BLOG FOR JULY 10, 2021
Good evening! Let’s kick things off with a photo of our incredible student group and chaperones here on the coast of the Florida Gulf.
This morning, students and staff were guided by our friends from Turtle Defenders as we learned how to survey sea turtle nests. We discovered that Loggerhead turtles are highly threatened, and that a whole community of local volunteers works hard every week to ensure their nests are protected from human and environmental factors that may contribute to lower numbers of successful hatchings on the beach.
We then witnessed the experts digging up a turtle nest (in a safe, permitted way) and show us what happened to a recently unearthed nest that had been affected by Hurricane Elsa. Fortunately, there were some baby sea turtles who survived the beach flooding, and the students got to see the baby hatchlings up close!
We also had learning and immersion activities throughout the day, including an insightful lecture on the seven elements of human security. We also became honorary Turtle Defenders after meeting with local volunteers at the sanctuary.
And then we had a fun time in the pool this afternoon to refresh and relax!
We’re heading to the beautifully preserved natural beach of Cayo Costa tomorrow. We couldn’t be more excited to head out on another adventure!
-Brett & the GLA Team
BLOG POST FOR JULY 11
Good Evening, family and friends who have been continuing to follow up with Atmosphere Academy’s adventure on their Global Leadership Adventures program in Florida.
This morning, students and chaperones had a very enjoyable adventure as they entered Pine Island. Students were excited to enjoy some early morning activities as they played a game of volleyball amongst themselves while waiting to board their ferry ride to Cayo Costa. The scholars all helped load supplies onto the Ferry safely and enjoyed their relaxing ferry.
When students arrived at Cayo Costa we went on a tram to our pavilion and the GLA staff guided us to the beach. 2 of the staff started to grill food while the other staff member arrived at the beach. Once students arrived they set up and played volleyball and then went in the pool. Some students did the swim test and all passed. Then many played volleyball in the ocean and had a great time.
After the water activities students were safely guided back to the pavilion to have lunch. The lunch provided were burgers and hotdogs with plenty of condiments. They were able to digest and get some water along with extra snacks. Lastly, students returned back to the beach to continue the fun activities in the ocean.
After all the beach activities, we took a tram back to the boat’s boarding location. While we were on the boat we experienced some weather troubles as it had started raining. However, the Ferry was safely prepared for anything to come. Students took polaroid pictures and enjoyed the wonderful surprise from dolphins. When they arrived back at the Ferry parking lot, students safely got off, loaded all supplies on the van and headed back to the home base for some warm spaghetti and meatballs with garlic bread and garden salad on the side and warm cookies. Thet wrapped up the day by watching a film called Coastal Seas and getting ready for another busy day tomorrow!
-Gavin, Jelianny, Loida, & Myles
BLOG POST FOR JULY 12
Good evening, Atmosphere Academy scholars’ parents. Today, our scholars were accompanied by “Save Our Seabirds” and “Mote Marine Aquarium” to do new activities and learn more about nature. They worked and explored these activities in two groups, before switching activities! In group 1, students started their day by volunteering to help reopen the bird habitat, which had been shut down due to the pandemic, during their time at Save Our Seabirds. Scholars put in a lot of effort to help get it reopened by the end of the month.
Meanwhile in group 2, students started off at Mote Marine, which is an aquarium where you get to learn about sea turtles, manatees, otters, and many more sea animals. During this experience, we used our journals to write down some facts about the animals that we learned at the aquarium. Some things we learned were: Manatees are big animals but they only have little fat in them since most of it is made up of muscle and large intestines that measure up to 150 feet. Another fact we also learned is, average adult manatees are 10 feet long and weigh 1,200 lbs. While on the other hand, calves at birth are 4 feet in length and weigh 66 lbs.
After we got back, scholars were given time to decompress at the pool and get ready to head out for dinner at Fresh Kitchen. They had an option of any type of veggie, protein, and base (including rice, mashed potatoes, and pasta). They were able to begin the rest of their night with a nice healthy meal. During their first mentor group meeting, scholars were challenged to consider one thing they discovered about themselves during their time here. This activity helped us to see how much we have grown and developed throughout this journey. Also, to get to know ourselves and each other better. Overall, everyone is enjoying their time being here and we look forward to seeing what’s gonna happen tomorrow and going back home.
-Christodiah, Lauren, Michelle R., & Rihana
BLOG POST FOR JULY 13
Hello parents! Today has been an exciting day where Atmosphere scholars had the opportunity to snorkel with some Manatees. We saw a calf and a mother Manatee doing their daily eating routine as well as a male following behind. Students had to wear wetsuits so they float over the water and not bother the Manatees. And some students were even lucky enough to have a Manatee begin an interaction with them. After a lot of students were brave enough to go close to a fake alligator before even knowing it was fake. Here are some students in the water with the instructor.
After swimming with the Manatees they had lunch at a park across the street from Crystal River (where the manatees were located) and a few students played sports such as volleyball and soccer. Once they finished lunch they were able to go get ice cream at an ice cream shop and were able to spend time on the deck of the building just enjoying their ice cream with their friends. Students then took a 2 and a half hour drive back to the hotel where they had dinner and later on had a lecture where they learned about different types of pollution and different factors that contribute to it.
Following that they had a leadership activity where each student had 1-2 images that had to be connected to each other without other students seeing their images, they all had to describe their images and try to connect them to create a logical story. From this activity students were able to understand what the meaning of leadership is as well as how important different perspectives are. Lastly our Leaders of the Day and teachers gave shout outs to students for their leadership and contribution in the activities of the day.
-Abraham, Kimberly, Leilani, Michelle A.
BLOG POST FOR JULY 14
Good Evening, Atmosphere scholars and parents! Today we started off our day with an amazing breakfast which included scrambled eggs, omlet, boiled eggs, pork and turkey sausage patty, fruits, etc. After that, we got in the van and we were jamming out until we got to the state park. Some were nervous and others were hyped due to the fact that we were going kayaking, which involves you trusting your friend and be able to use communication skills as a way of teamwork to drive a small boat using paddles to get to land.
After getting to the state park, all of the students were fitted into life vests and by pairs entered their kayaks and we got to roam around to practice getting a hold of how to steer it. However, some students instead of learning to steer were accidentally playing “bumper kayaks” and even having two of the students to be tipped over when trying to steer! When we finally had at least learned the basics of kayaking we went off into our three separate groups and searched inside of the lagoon and saw the many animals that lived inside of the mangrove trees. Though we did have some troubles since many of the students had crashed into the mangrove roots and would continuously bump into each other. But later learned that distance should be put in between the kayaks and that idea was what made us at least have the day somewhat of a breeze. We then had made a stop at a nearby island and played human knots in which both groups faced immense frustration at how they were unable to untie themselves, nevertheless the importance was to be able to work together and take leads of our own. Finally, we raced each other to get to the dock and then took the wonderful picture of all of us on our group kayaking activity.
After lunch, we got to the beach. Some people were playing volleyball but eventually everyone went to the water. It was all fun, we were playing volleyball and having fun. Sara, a staff member from GLA, introduced one of our students, Armaldo, to a man that was trying to find some shark teeth. He showed them how to do it and we were able to find a pretty big one! Later all our students got to clean up and change and then we headed back to the hotel.
At about 4 students got back to the hotel and were able to decompress for some time, after which they had dinner. Later on we headed on to one of the best activities, our lecture, in which we learned a lot about important things affecting the planet such as pollution, global warming, etc. After that, we broke up into our mentor group in which we were introduced to the new saying of “OMG”, which stands for “One Meaningful Goal”. Each scholar ended up making a goal for themselves which they have to accomplish, this goal will be shared out tomorrow between all of us as a way of reminding us of joyful and grateful moments we spent together in Florida. To end this fun and amazing day, we all formed a circle in which the Leaders of the Day and staff members gave students shoutouts.
-Arnaldo, Beverly, Fermin, Franchesca