Ecuador 2016 - Trip Of A Lifetime!

“My Biology teacher moment came during a visit to the Darwin Research Institute on the Galapagos Islands. Our guide asked if anyone knew anything about natural selection or Darwin’s finches. A warm surge of pride accompanied thirty-seven hands as they punched the air. It was a text book moment.” Head of Biology and Camps International College Coordinator Miss Faye Roberts reflects on the four-week life changing experience to Ecuador this summer. “I’d go back tomorrow at the drop of a hat. It was incredible.” Clearly, the accompanying Year 11 and Lower Sixth pupils would agree. I mean who wouldn’t relish the opportunity of eating live lemon ants (named as a result of their distinctive citrus twang) or Guinea pig? How about rising at dawn to help dig the foundations of a remote community’s health centre or building a school fence? This trip’s robust intention was to pack a punch. By immersing leafy Warwickshire’s teenagers into the most desolate of South American communities and expecting them to live and work alongside the indigenous population there was no alternative other than simply getting on with it, grafting and making friends.

“The pupils worked hard. And I mean hard. It was tough manual labour they were undertaking a lot of the time. Aside from the donkey work there were football matches, English lessons, games and friendships – the stuff that just can’t be planned or advertised on a web site. Our pupils gained so much.” Miss Roberts explains.

Beetling between three diverse communities: Amazonia, Esmeraldas and Kurikatchi whilst battling with extreme humidity and basic accommodation (one camp saw College trekkers living in shipping containers and another at 3500 metres altitude) only served to zip up the experience for all on board. Nothing was too much trouble and a general air of make do and get on underpinned the ethos during all twenty-eight days.

“Our show stopping finale had to be the trip to the Galapagos Islands,” adds Miss Roberts. “We traced Darwin’s steps where he landed on board The Beagle, we snorkelled marvelling at bejewelled sea life, spotted dolphins and gasped at the infamous giant turtles. To get so up close to such staggering natural beauty was indescribable.”

Prime time telly shows such as I’m a Celebrity play on the public’s craving for the outlandish and surreal in faraway places; well, Princethorpe pupils re-wrote the script, ate the ants and accomplished all given tasks. In the spirit of our College ethos their work was undertaken with the intention only of helping others and becoming better, global citizens of the future.

“I’m so proud of all of them,” concludes Miss Roberts, “to see the Ecuadorian children literally hanging off the arms of our pupils and to know that we have helped to improve their infrastructure during our short time there is a priceless memory to cherish for the future.”

Grateful thanks go to accompanying staff: Miss Faye Roberts, Mr Simon Robertson, Miss Kate Boothroyd and Mr Matt Parsons.

Image shows Camps International students and staff on location in Ecuador.