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The Upside I Didn't Expect From Camp  Osita

When considering coming to Costa Rica to get my first experience in conservation fieldwork, I was thinking primarily about the abundance of wildlife that Costa Rica is famous for. From nature documentaries and my courses at university, I had heard so much about Costa Rica’s extensive National Parks, the disproportionately high number of species found here to the rest of the world, as well as the country’s commitment to transferring to renewable energy resources. With all this in my mind, I knew I wanted to come to Costa Rica. So, when I learned of an internship opportunity with Frontier-Cost Rica, I did not consider any alternatives very seriously.

Just before I left home to come to Costa Rica, I began to worry that I should have looked more closely into other options, that there might have been another project that I would enjoy more. It has turned out that I need not have worried!

The wildlife and natural beauty here in Costa Rica has surpassed all of my expectations. In these seemingly short 9 weeks here, I have spent sunsets kayaking through mangrove forests. I’ve stumbled across two tapirs while on surveys and seen another on my visit to Corcovado National Park. I’ve swam in a secluded pool below a beautiful waterfall, been woken by howler monkeys every morning and watched some of the last sea turtle hatchlings of the season emerge from their nest.

Through the survey and research work being done here, I have learned so much about data collection and observational studies. This experience has helped me to realize what direction I want to take in my career and how to achieve that. To add to that, I have been able to see species that exist nowhere else on Earth. All of this has made me glad that I came to Costa Rica but the main reason I am so happy to have chosen this project is that it has given me the chance to live at Camp Osita!

Due to my inherent interest in wildlife studies, I knew that I would enjoy the science side of this internship but nothing could have prepared me for how much I would love camp life. Having never lived with so many people before (27 at one point!), I thought it might be a difficult situation to get used to. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Almost as soon as I arrived here the camp felt like home. I was lucky enough to arrive at the same time as seven other volunteers who quickly became close friends and those who were already here went out of their way to make us all feel welcome. Everyone – staff, interns and volunteers – soon became like a big family. It has been great eating meals together, playing cards and bananagrams and having events like quiz nights and treasure hunts together.

Being here has allowed me to meet people I never would have otherwise. Everyone here has different interests and hobbies, different reasons for being here and different backgrounds. However, the one thing we all have in common is our initial decision to come and live in this jungle camp and surround ourselves with wildlife. This one commonality has been more than enough to bring us all together as friends and help create a fantastic atmosphere to live in. There are people I have met here who I know I will be friends with for years to come; including people who live in different countries and who I am already making plans to visit after my internship is over.

If I was pressed to pick what my least favourite aspect of camp life would be, it definitely would not be the lack of internet or the getting up at 3.15 am for morning bird surveys. It wouldn't even be not having cheese for three months! It would be having to say goodbye to my friends as they complete their contracts and leave camp for good.

The wildlife, culture and landscapes of Costa Rica are undoubtedly astonishing. And yet, there are so many beautiful places in this world to see. Had I chose instead to spend these three months in one of those places, I would surely also have had an amazing experience there but I can imagine nowhere else in the world where I would have found an opportunity to live in a camp as great as this one with such wonderful people as these for my campmates.

By Grace Bond - Costa Rica Big Cats, Primates and Turtle Conservation Project

Find out more about Costa Rica Big Cats, Primates & Turtles Conservation.

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