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Learning at Camp  Osita

Coming to Costa Rica, I knew that I was in for a learning experience; I expected to be educated in conservation, in environmental sustainability and on the multitude of species found here. And it has lived up to my expectations - through the various surveys and presentations carried out here I have vastly expanded my knowledge on monkeys, turtles, reptiles, amphibians, insects and big cats.

For example, I now know that the leaf cutting ants are the only other creature (apart from humans) on Earth to harvest. I now know that a turtle’s gender is determined by temperature. I now know that the margay’s hind legs can rotate up to 180 degrees. Surrounded by experts in all aspects of the natural world, I find myself constantly saturated with new and interesting information.

However, there are a number of things I did not expect to learn from my time here at Camp Osita; how to Ce’ili (a form of Irish dancing), how to juggle, how to write creatively, how to improve my CV, how to salsa, and how to survive in the wilderness. Each week, either a volunteer or a staff member treats us to a workshop in their own area of expertise. Whether it be dancing around the kitchen, engaging in a lively debate, or taking detailed notes, every workshop involves something new, fun and exciting.

My personal favourite was the Ce’ili workshop - who would have thought that I’d learn how to Irish dance in Costa Rica, thousands of miles away from its origin country? Taught by Grace, an Irish ARO, we were taught the traditional dance that is typically performed at gatherings and parties. She patiently lined us up, and taught us the steps. It took us a few attempts to transform from a bunch of people clumsily stomping around and bumping into each other to what looked like a credible Irish dance, but we managed it. Not only was it good fun - and one hell of a work out - it was a great team building exercise! It now holds a permanent space in our weekly fiestas!

More practical was the CV workshop, led by our Principal Investigator, Emma. With many of us either applying for university, an internship or a job, this is a priceless skill. We were shown what to include in our CV’s (and what not to), how to format it correctly, and how to transfer past experiences into credible skills. Thanks to Emma, my CV has been transformed from a jumbled mess into a professional document, and I have no doubt this will increase my chances of gaining employment in the real world.

The wilderness survival workshop was absolutely intriguing - and very apt in our current circumstances (though thankfully I am never in the position to put the skills I have learnt into action!) This was taught by a fellow volunteer, Nate, showing that anyone with expertise in any area can lead a workshop. He broke down the three most important elements of survival: water, shelter and fire. He then explained in detail how we might obtain these things in the wild. We were shown how to purify water, how to start a fire with just flint and stone, and how to make a snare. It was enlightening and entertaining, and hopefully put us all in good stead to survive the wilderness.

The broad spectrum of knowledge offered here at Camp Osita is truly incredible!  From the practical to the fun, the workshops offered here cover everything. Not only are the workshops a good break from the surveys and science, they also give each volunteer a chance to experience what it's like to be the teacher. I will return to the UK with an amalgamation of fascinating skills that I never dreamed of possessing!

Ruby Jarvis – Media & Journalism Intern | Frontier Costa Rica

Frontier runs conservation, community developmentteaching and adventure travel projects in over 50 countries worldwide - so join us and explore the world!

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