NatureKids

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While in Drake Bay, Costa Rica, we had the opportunity to work with a great organization called NatureKids.  NatureKids is an extracurricular school (which means that kids go there after their normal school) that helps kids learn English and good environmental practices.

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Drake Bay is located in the remote Peninsula de Osa, which sticks out into the ocean from the southern Pacific Coast of Costa Rica.  The Osa is one of the most bio-diverse places on earth (meaning that it has a lot of different types of animals and plants).  The number of species of plants and animals in this small area – which is a bit larger than metropolitan Los Angeles — is equivalent to the number of species in the entire United States!  If you want to learn more about the Peninsula de Osa, we did a whole blog post about it.

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Map from Google Maps

 

Why do kids go to NatureKids?

While Drake Bay is an incredibly beautiful place, there are not a lot of ways to earn money, other than from ecotourism.  According to the International Eco-tourism Society, ecotourism is “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people.”  As the primary language needed to work with tourists is English, learning English will help local students and their families benefit more directly from tourism.  Additionally, learning English is a skill that can help them in other pursuits outside of Drake Bay.

 

NatureKids also tries to teach kids about good environmental practices, and occasionally organizes clean-up activities (we went on a hike with some students one rainy afternoon and picked up trash along the way) and other environmental actions (they cleaned up one area that had been used as a trash dump, made it an informal park, and created trash bins).

 

A school day

In Drake Bay kids go to school for a half day, either from 7-11 or 12-4. Their school includes math, science, social studies, physical education, and some English.  For families that want their kids to have more work in English, they can sign up (and pay a small amount) for classes at NatureKids.  Kids come to NatureKids two times per week for one to one and a half hours each class.  The classes are divided into age groups, and the school serves kids between the ages of 4 and 15.  The NatureKids school is about a 10-minute walk from the main school, and most of the kids arrive to their classes by themselves.  Younger kids are dropped off and picked up by their parents or an older brother or sister.

 

NatureKids in Drake Bay is run by Pamela Nave.  Pamela has a really tough job, teaching kids of such a wide age range on a tiny budget.  But she’s energetic, has a ton of ideas, really cares about the kids, and has great connections with them.  Here’s a picture of Pamela with Jamie & Jason.

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The Krafts and NatureKids

We spent several days with NatureKids helping to teach a little English, and we had a very rewarding cultural exchange with the kids there.  Both Jamie and Jason got involved in singing some English songs with the younger kids, playing games, creating artwork together, and just interacting.  With some of the older kids, Jamie led the teaching of the song “Cups” by Anna Kendrick.  (Jamie learned it in her second grade music class at school).  We started slowly, step by step – then you’ll see in this video what happened when we tried it up to speed (which was challenging!).

 

Video of Cups

 

We really enjoyed getting to know the kids.  Here’s a photo during a rainy walk on the beach to coconut trees.  Daniel taught us how to open green coconuts and drink the milk.  Yum!

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We also were lucky to be in Drake Bay for Costa Rican Independence Day, September 15th, and got to be part of some of the Costa Rican traditions.

 

Pamela had the idea for one of the classes to help us make a “farol.”  Farols are little homemade houses with lights inside (often candles) that are carried around in a late-night procession the night before Independence Day.  We had a great time working with the kids at NatureKids making it.  And, one of our favorite moments of our time in Drake Bay was walking down the dark beach with the whole community with everyone’s farol twinkling all around us.  Here are some pictures of our farol.

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A Parade

On the morning of September 15th, the whole community again gathered for an Independence Day parade.  The parade is just for kids to participate, and pretty much all of the kids in the community are part of it.

 

Video of Parade

We had a fantastic time watching the various dancers, twirlers, and band members march by, mostly because they had become our friends!  Here are some other pictures from the parade with our NatureKids friends.

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