It was early Saturday morning on August 1st when ARCHELONʼs youth group, XELONOPAREA started putting up camping tents and setting up their campground under the olive trees in the MELTEMI Camping area, besides the Mavrovouni beach on Lakonikos Bay. The sea turtles Caretta caretta have chosen this same coast to nest since thousands of years.

On the other hand, itʼs been more than 25 years since ARCHELON volunteers have been there protecting it. Again this summer season, XELONOPAREA joined forces with them and the young volunteers experienced 8 very intensive days with the adult field volunteers, taking part in all efforts made for the protection of the nests.

Of course the activitiesʼ list was far more extended; the members of XELONOPAREA took a daily trip around Mani, visited -among others-the traditional villages and hiked the path to the lighthouse of Cape Tenaro (the most southern point of continental Europe).

The highlight of the camp was undeniably the release of “Filippos” into the sea, a young Caretta caretta brought especially for that purpose from the Rescue Center in Glyfada.

This summer camp illustrates an example of the environmental education and awareness for children and young people at national level (participants came from Athens, Crete, Lakonia, etc). Using the powerful experience of the every day life and the challenging activities with the other volunteers in the camp, it achieved something indeed unique: to promote cognitive learning, to capture environmental knowledge by vivid and enjoyable means.

The variety of activities introduced and the procedures followed served efficiently the goals and aims of Environmental Education as a whole, in terms of social, emotional, kinetic, learning and mental dimensions as well as those set by the Members of ARCHELON Environmental Education Team.

The structure of our daily program included many workshops and projects (film projections, photographs, building protective cages for the nests, recreational games, cultural visits around Mani, etc) that also put our selected educational and information resources into practice.

In addition, the learning and interaction activities, functions and tools used (keeping a diary, original observation and field work, obtaining information from the sources, presentations, demonstrations, etc) helped participants to envisage new possibilities for more sustainable relations with nature. Itʼs true; our bond with nature becomes much deeper when we are directly engaged in its cycles.

The tireless efforts of the people who volunteered and ran the programme, Olga Karadaki, Dina Zafeiri, Thanassis Benos-Pamer, Constantinos Lygeros, Efie Skarmoutsou, Athina Tsekoura and Theodoros Benos-Palmer were also extremely significant and greatly appreciated. (TBP/ES)



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