Costa Rica Pre-Trip Prep Nights

2016 Student Field Reporter Project:  EcoTeach has enlisted the help of several students to share their 2016 Costa Rica experiences with us. Over the coming months we will regularly feature their posts, photos, and reflections – letting them tell their amazing stories of Costa Rica and it’s impact on their lives!  

Reporter:  Lily, Tillicum Middle School

Hi, everybody.  It’s Lily.  I thought I would give you a sense of what our Costa Rica pre-trip prep nights are like.

Here goes!

We meet in the school library on some Monday evenings. We sit in different places every meeting, moving from one group of tables to another for no reason in particular. The chaperones act as leaders, the kids sit at tables next to their friends, and the parents lounge against any available piece of furniture. We all know each other; any one of us can name everybody in the group, and the seven prior meetings allowed some get-to-know-you time. In the most recent meeting, everyone was especially excited. It was our last planning meeting ever, before we head out in two weeks. One of my friends is counting down the days until we leave, and gives me constant (daily) updates on the number.  Someone’s a little excited, I think. Well, to be fair, we all are.

The meeting space falls silent when Mrs. Faulk speaks the key word. We decided the key word for when a chaperone wanted our attention, they would say “Costa!” loudly, and the kids would respond “Rica!” and then be quiet. Then, she and the other chaperones went over the schedule. We talked about the hotel stays, home stays, turtle rescue, white water rafting, hiking, reforestation, visiting the orphanage and the schools, buses, souvenir shopping, the field trip to see a Sasquatch habitat… Just kidding.  We’re in the tropics; it’s gonna be the habitat for their tropical variety.

After that, packing lists, mandatory health warnings, and prearranged absence forms for school were distributed and dutifully inscribed. We all have to get the teachers to acknowledge that we’re going to be in a different country for three whole school days. (For them, this is like a grade-A emergency.) The packing lists were long and I’m still trying to convince myself to actually pack the stuff (and not just wear the same jeans and tennis shoes the whole time). We also learned about exchange rates, passports and customs, and basically how to airplane. I’m no stranger to large aviation machines, but a few of my classmates have never been on a plane before; lots of excruciating, painstaking preparation is best when flying for the first time.

Finally, when the chaperones wrapped up the pep talks, the kids migrated to the collection tables. We’re going to donate toys and supplies to an orphanage/school, and we are collecting them now to send them down there ahead of time. And being teenagers as we are, the bright rainbow slinkies, piles of stuffed animals, board games and trinkets were fairly distracting. I don’t even know what the chaperones had originally planned, but we took the free time to play jump rope with the slinky, see how big of a mountain could be created with the toys, and who could keep a soccer ball in the air the longest. The three separate tables were organized for three groups; school supplies, books, and toys. There were so many books that the leaders had to ask the kids to take the extras back and pack them in their luggage. We finished the meeting with some new, official Costa Rica Tillicum 2016 t-shirts and a huge & classy group photo. The meeting rounded out, and we all headed for home.

Talk to you next time – when I am in Costa Rica!!