Posted by Chase O'Briant | 12.05.2023 | Costa Rica Surf Camp
Why Do Community Service at Camp?
Those who have attended our Travel Summer Camps or who have at least read about them on our website are aware that campers can earn service hours while at camp. Campers will earn either five or ten volunteer hours, depending on the length of the camp session, by working with local schools, churches, and non-profits.
What many people don’t know is the “why” we have for doing all this service work. Parents are often excited about the fact that their camper will add to their volunteering resume, which is usually a plus on college applications, but rarely consider the reason we have included such an opportunity in our programs. It is not, in fact, just there to make our camps more appealing to families, but rather to show our gratitude to the place we are visiting.
Every summer we spend more and more time in Playa Grande, Costa Rica. We believe that travel is crucial for the development of not only young surfers, but also for the development of mature, well-rounded young adults. We offer an experience that goes well beyond any all-inclusive resort package, cruise stop, or big tourist destination, where campers are fully immersed in the community meeting real individuals who are local to the area and learning about their culture, routines, and lifestyles. The amount of emotional, spiritual, and intellectual growth an individual can experience through this type of trip is unparalleled.
To provide this experience to campers, our staff develops close ties to as many people possible who are local to the area. Many other travel companies will bring groups and keep their participants within a closely monitored bubble, rarely leaving the resort grounds, staying within comfort zones, and consuming as much of the “Pura Vida” lifestyle possible before flying home to tell all their friends about their trip and how they need to go next time, never realizing just how many members of the local community needed to come together just to provide that protected experience.
At WB Surf Camp, we do realize how much we rely on the local community of Playa Grande and the surrounding area to provide amazing camp experiences for teens, and our goal is to give back and show gratitude with every single group that comes through our program. The local people are consistently welcoming, kind, and helpful to both our staff and campers, we believe it’s only right that we show the same kindness and willingness to help in return. We also realize that even something as small as a beach sweep cleaning up the section of beach we use for camp can be seen and talked about around town, making the local community aware that our groups are not blind to the community and culture around them, and thus making them more willing to welcome us back year after year.
Something to think about, especially those of us who live on the coast or in a place that sees a lot of tourists each year, what is our sentiment towards tourists and visitors in our home community? What do those visitors do to give back to your community? Do they contribute to the well-being of your town by supporting small businesses and donating to local non-profit organizations? Or do they consume, stick to their comfort zones, and leave your favorite beach, or other favorite place, worse off than how they found it? If it’s the latter, would you personally welcome those people back with open arms?
We can apply the philosophy we have in our Teen Costa Rica Overnight Summer Camps to any traveler in any place. When you are a visitor somewhere, try to be cognizant of how you’re contributing to, or consuming from, that community. Are you leaving it better than how you found it? Are you making a positive impression on the locals who are undoubtedly watching the visitors? Something to consider and maybe work on during the next vacation. It’s a philosophy that we try to teach all our campers, as we work to not only make them better surfers, but better individuals in general.