Day 9

Greetings from Tobacco Caye! *sigh* It was regretfully our last day in paradise. Today started much the same as the others, but ended with the sweet wistfulness of that final evening we all were secretly dreading. So here’s the run down on what happened today:

Today started off with a hardy American breakfast of pancakes that was accompanied by a sweet breeze, the shimmering sunlight, and pleasant rolling of the waves. Which subsequently was interrupted by a nice application of elbow grease in the final installation and touch-ups of our community service projects from the day prior. It was such an interesting experience getting the humbling feeling of seeing the islander’s smiles that were lit up when we installed the projects in the community. We never knew little kids could get so excited about trash cans.

Our final educational experience was unsurprisingly a bit chaotic. We were given an introduction to the world of marine survey techniques, specifically transect methods. Michael did his best to explain the procedure to us; however (and kind of the point), we realized how difficult it is to get accurate data of that beautiful underwater world. Using PVC quadrants and a thirty meter tape measure along the ocean floor can only be so accurate for our inexperienced Culver minds, especially because fish don’t really care much about what we have to say about leadership.

After an action packed day and saying goodbye to our aquatic friends, we all had the opportunity to share in small groups our own personal leadership stories. Leadership in this case is used a bit loosely—the stories we told were more centered on our life philosophy (who we are), how we individually are inspired to change and help the world for the better, and of course, how we are going to make that happen.

Going to miss the slow, yet incredible island life. Thanks to all the parents for the opportunity, and for following our journey so diligently.

Signing off from Belize,

George Cruickshank and John H. Buggeln

Day 8

Hello from Tobacco Caye where the weather is 85 degrees and currently not snowing (unlike Culver), this is Tegan Smith and Nikki Maroney reporting on day 8. Yesterday we started with our usual 8 AM breakfast, followed by a learning session where we identified each other’s strengths as a leader. At 10 AM we broke into groups to start our Community Service Project. We were divided into 5 different groups by our interests in order to have the best impact on the community. We had one group design 10 different trash cans, each specific to the location where it would be left. This group was assisted by some of the local kids who helped paint the trash bins. The next group repaired government fishery signs that needed touching up. The third group, at the request of one of hosts Michael, created signs that showed where you could enter the water to snorkel, where there is no snorkeling, and where there is no walking. The fourth group made signs for the lodge where we are staying that help provide more direction to where things are. The fifth and final group, which we were part of, created a mural for the outer classroom doors of the Tobacco Caye Marine Station. In the mural are the big 5 marine animals that you would see snorkeling in Belize. This includes the shark, manatee, dolphin, crocodile, and the turtle. We were assisted by another one of our hosts Matilde. Half way through we broke for a quick lunch and came back and worked to complete our projects. Once we completed our projects everyone showcased their projects to the entire group. All of the pieces fulfilled the requirements that the people of Tobacco Caye had, while also showcasing everyone’s creative abilities. After the long day of service, we had free time where we were able to swim or lay in the hammocks. At 6 PM we had a delicious dinner and we got ready for the night snorkel. At 7 PM we met back in the classroom for a short debrief on the rules of night snorkeling. We split into 2 groups and started our snorkel. Along the way we saw lobsters, eels, octopi, and bioluminescence, which we saw by kicking down towards the sand and then staring in the water with all of the lights out. We concluded our day with our anchor meeting to prepare us for the next day. During our anchor meeting our world leadership guide, Kori told us a story about the constellations. With one day left the anxieties of going back to snow and Indiana weather has finally set in. Hope it’s not snowing too much!

Much love,

Tegan and Nikki

Day 7

Good morning from Tobacco Caye with Miles Jones and Kyle Dane writing your daily update! Yesterday was a busy day, starting with breakfast at 8, departing for a full day on the boat at 9. We first visited the Mangroves, hoping to find some manatees which we eventually found before stopping at a nursery for young fish. We then snorkeled around the mangroves, seeing many different colored sponges and starfish, with our snorkel cut short due to a crocodile in the water. Since we had to leave early because of the crocodile we snorkeled one of the most beautiful reef patches in the world. Miles squared saw barracuda and a nurse shark as soon as they got in the water. There were also quite a few sea urchins. After the snorkel we went to the Carrie Bow Caye which is a Smithsonian station that is a base for marine research around the Caribbean. It was very self-sufficient and some of us got to pee on a toilet on the ocean with a window facing the reef. After this we went to another island and ate lunch.  On the island we saw seahorses and other small fish. Next, we went to snorkel in another part of the ocean where we swam for around an hour. We saw many interesting things, including a pack of barracuda’s. We also saw a scorpion fish swimming through the sand at the very bottom. We then all hopped back on the boat, checking out everyone’s latest sunburns. We then hung out on Tobacco Caye for a few hours before watching the beautiful sunset as a group. Dinner was great, then we had a short leadership meeting and game to end the day.

 

See you all soon,

Miles Jones and Kyle Dane

Day 6

Good morning family and friends, Ben Burns and Brian Krupp are reporting for you today. We began our first sunny day in paradise by discussing global issues and goals. After sharing our ideas about the challenges the world is facing, we began to clean up the island. We split into groups and picked up trash around the island. We were surprised by the diversity of the trash that washed up on shore, such as a generator and PVC pipe. After the cleanup session, we were led in another round of snorkeling, this time by the island’s researcher Mathilde. She took us out beyond the reef, and the water was so clear. We spotted some lionfish, a school of tarpon, and plenty of canary fish. The group made sure to take plenty of pictures, and enjoyed some very cool sights. After our session, we learned the importance of applying sunscreen, and ate lunch. Then, we were tasked with cleaning up the reef. There is a part of the reef that is above the water, and the waves and tides bring constant trash that stays on top of it. For over an hour we worked to clean the trash up, finding even more diverse items such as the lid to a toilet, a penicillin bottle, and antibiotics from Venezuela. After eating a delicious dinner, we came together as a group to journal and team-build with a game of Two Truths and a Lie. Afterwards, we were given the night off, and spent our time dancing to local drums, hanging in the hammocks, and going to the docks to look at the stars. Today was a fantastic experience we hope to match or surpass during the rest of the trip.

 

Sincerely,

Ben Burns and Brian Krupp

Day 5

Greetings from Tobacco Caye reported by your very own Taylor Robbins and Sophia George! Today was quite the adventure, as it was our first full day on the island. This morning, we had breakfast at eight, followed by our learning session. At the learning session, we heard our World Leadership Schools leader, Kori’s, leadership story. The leadership story encompasses experiences you have had in your past, combined with hopes for your future and how you wish to impact the world. After that, we had a presentation by one of the researchers stationed on the island about possible marine hazards and some of the species on the reef. Following that, we had some free time to spend playing cards, laying in hammocks, and exploring the island, but most importantly enjoying each other’s company and the beauty of our surroundings. Despite the overcast weather, we were able to get into the ocean and begin our introduction to snorkeling. Taught by the other researcher on the island, he led us from the dock to the reef. At first it was a scary experience for us, seeing as how we had never snorkeled before. However, we overcame our uncertainties and ended the experience as (almost) seasoned snorkelers. After we snorkeled we met back up with the researchers and they answered our endless questions about what we had seen today. They taught us about various species of fish, coral, and other marine life. Additionally, they explained what kind of research they were performing on the island and in surrounding Caribbean areas. The evening included an intensely competitive game of sand volleyball with the help of some of the local kids who live on the island. The night concluded with another team meeting and some free time. We are looking forward to more snorkeling and helping out on the island.

 

Yours Truly,

Sophia and Taylor

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Day 4

Hello parents and friends, this is Miles Clark and Conner Henderson blogging from Tobacco Caye, Belize.  We woke up this morning at Chaa Creek with a new member to the group, Captain Wick Kelley. Breakfast was served and we were soon on are way to Xunantunich to check out the Mayan Ruins. While we were there, we saw temples, plazas, ball courts, and the El Castillo palace. The El Castillo was probably the favorite of the group because of its staggering height of 600 ft. above sea level and its sheer beauty. In the time of the Mayans, all trees were cleared from the area and all buildings were painted red and plazas were painted white. It was amazing to imagine the divinity of the area at the time and what the temples stood for in the beliefs of the Mayans. After touring the smaller temples, we climbed El Castillo to the top and nearly gave Dr. Buggeln a heart attack after standing near the edge at a respectable distance to get the shot for the boys. From the top, we could see the beautiful countryside of Belize and Guatemala. We descended from the palace and entered the ball courts where the ancient Mayans would play for their death. This seems counter intuitive, but the Captains of the winning team would be beheaded to live eternally in the underworld which was a great honor. We then stopped at local gift shops to cop some sick knifes and hammocks. Lunch was at Benny’s, a Chipotle on steroids. After lunch, Juan drove the bus into the mountains and we emerged in Dangriga for our final destination, Tobacco Caye. Tobacco Caye is like a page out of Paradise magazine. We are looking forward to finally being able to wear open toed shoes so we can fully enjoy the Caribbean vibes.

Peace, Love, Happiness, and Raspect Mon!

Miles Clark and Conner Henderson

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Belize Day 3 – Chaa Creek Lodge

Hello jealous Americans! It’s Katy Arkell and Erica Sadlowski here. We had a busy and informative day in Belize today, starting bright and early. The two of us began early, helping the family that runs our campsite make tortillas for breakfast. We learned the traditional way to make and cook tortillas from native Belizeans, and our group was pretty pleased with our finished product! A few other Culver travelers woke up early and did yoga with Ms. Girard before starting the day. We all took a quick break and then went on a hike by the river, learning more about the medicinal properties of Belizean plants and how native healers use them. (There is a tree that locals call the “tourist tree”, because it is red and has a flaky bark that looks like a sunburn…hopefully it will not be an accurate name for us!) Then, we learned about the life cycle of the beautiful Blue Morpho butterfly and got to interact with them in a butterfly house. We saw more Mayan artifacts, ate a quick snack, and hiked back to our camp.

After we returned, we had a few hours of free time! Some students took naps in hammocks, others went down to the pool to drink virgin pina coladas, play cards, and swim. After free time, we played a game and gathered together for an interactive learning session. We learned a lot about each other and our various characteristics and leadership styles. Then, we all had a delicious dinner and cake to celebrate the birthday of our campsite manager, Docio. All in all, it was a tiring but rewarding and interactive day, and we are all looking forward to tomorrow :-)

 

Much love,

Katy and Erica!