Day 1 :
Welcome to Ecuador
- Depart from your airport:
Relax and enjoy your flight from North America, arranged on your own.
- Upon arrival:
Camps International staff will be at Quito International Airport to greet you and assist with your transfer to Quito.
- Private shuttle to Quito:
Our private coach and driver will be waiting to transfer us to our hotel in Quito.
Our base for the next evening will be a Quito hotel. While here, meals will be included.
- Welcome and orientation:
Quito is one of the most compelling cities in Latin America. Nestled in a long, narrow valley in the Andes, between the Volcano Pichincha to the west and the Machangara River Canyon to the east, Quito enjoys a spectacular natural setting. The Ecuadorian capital city's mix of colonial and modern architecture creates a fascinating built environment in which the modern inhabitants forge their busy lives. In addition to being the site of the Ecuadorian government, Quito is also the nation's cultural capital, with an impressive selection of museums and festivals. Depending on arrival time of the flight, students may be able to visit the Historic Center of Quito, purchase some souvenirs at the local market and explore this beautiful city.
- Daily reflection and group discussion:
On every evening of the program, we will set time aside to update our Reflection Journal and share thoughts and impressions that have come to the fore in the course of the day.
"We do not learn from experience, we learn from reflecting on experience" - John Dewey
Day 2 :
Tranfer to Camp Donbiki (3 Nights)
- Private shuttle to Camp Donbiki:
We will have use of a private coach and driver for our transfer from Quito to Camp Donbiki.
- Along the way:
The bus journey alone is a traveller's dream, including possible sightings of the glacier of Cerro Antisana, as well as ranging views east across the immensity of the Amazon itself. The last bit of the journey is by motorized dug-out canoe.
- Arrival to Camp Donbiki:
We will continue to Camp Donbiki, which will be our base for the next evening. Camp Donbiki is located in the Arajuno area of the Pastaza Province. We will be staying in traditional jungle lodges on bunk beds, the bathroom facilities have flushing toilets, cold showers and sinks.
The end of each cabin has a chill out space with cushions and there is a small dining room.
Staying at Camp Donbiki is a very special experience as it offers a unique jungle experience. Situated in the heart of the Ecuadorian rainforest, it's located next to a wonderful river, so you can be lulled by its peaceful sound as you go to sleep. You'll be welcomed by the friendly community here as they teach you their local customs and knowledge of the rainforest, including the traditional use of medicinal plants. You'll work alongside them to help protect and restore the indigenous trees and improve the community facilities. There will be time to relax in the jungle and get your bearings. In the afternoon, you will receive a full briefing on the projects that we are doing in the community.
- Local dance ceremony:
On arrival, there will be a dance and Kichwa name giving ceremony. The Kichwa are an indigenous group of Amazonian Ecuador.
- Project briefing:
In the afternoon you will receive a full briefing on the service projects that we are doing in the community. This includes a walk through the neighboring village which gives both you and the community residents a chance to meet and build bonds.
- Donbiki community and project background:
The community of Donbiki are situated in the heart of the Ecuadorian rainforest. Ecuador is the eighth most biodiverse country on Earth, with more than 20,000 plant species, 1,500 bird species, more than 840 species of reptiles and amphibians, and 341 species of mammals. Yet it also has one of the highest rates of deforestation in the world, where up to 200,000 hectares of forest are destroyed illegally every year leaving less than 15% of primary forest intact. Most of this is due to the expansion of pastures and pressure from oil and mining companies. The Shiwakucha (Donbiki) community are very concerned about the deforestation and are keen to preserve the forest by planting indigenous trees.
As the community expands, more trees are cut down to sell the wood and make space for crops. Since 2019 we have been working with the community to reforest land that had been used for agriculture. Yutzu trees are excellent for helping with issues of erosion in the river banks. Chunchos are among the tallest of the locally species. Both species are native and play a part within a process of conservation in the area.
- Meals provided:
While at camp, three healthy, well balanced and tasty meals will be provided daily. For example, toast, cereal, and fruit for breakfast; fish with veg for lunch and dinner and fruit. The
signature dish is Maito de tilapia or Maito de pollo - Fish or chicken cooked inside a banana leaf with palmito (roots of a type of palm) and yuca (root veg) and rice.
Following on from the service work briefing, the group starts their engagement with this work by thinking deeply about their goals for the week; in a framed, student led discussion forum. In Camp Donbiki we have established some ambitious goals through a dialogue with the community. This is very much a joint venture, in which we have built a relationship with the community and are working with them in mutually beneficial activities. Through an understanding of the process of dialogue, the development of ideas and the aims that we have, the group can identify their own goals, plan for those and then work towards their own objectives.
Day 3 :
Service Project - Donbiki
- Begin your service project:
After breakfast, it's time to work up a sweat. The next few days are all about getting your hands dirty and making a real difference.
- Project details:
Each one of the projects we work on is designed to improve the basic well-being, education, or sustainability of the local community and the environment. The projects are identified through a partnership with the community and in all our projects we are working with the community authorities and alongside trademen from within that community. Project work could include helping to maintain or develop facilities at local schools, create organic gardens for families to tackle malnutrition, reforestation or constructing water catchment and sanitation facilities.
- More options:
All projects are ongoing and, in collaboration with our volunteers, we work on them year- round to ensure a responsible and sustainable approach in all that we do. Your group could be starting a new project or continuing with a project in progress. This could include helping to maintain or develop facilities at local schools, creating organic gardens for families to tackle malnutrition, reforesting or constructing a local medical center.
- Community challenges:
Each of these activities sits at that point of meeting between the needs of the community and the needs of their local environment - a difficult and challenging point of contact which we encourage the groups to understand and think deeply about.
A student focused discussion of Leadership, its challenges, models and aims. The students will be asked to think about these issues particularly in the context of their current environment and activities. What has worked, what hasn't? Are we on schedule for our own aims? How could we do things differently?
Day 4 :
Service Project - Donbiki
- Pass on work:
Today we will finish our service project and there will be a gathering whereby your group can handover the work you have done to the locals. There will be a proud moment of reflection as you look at what you have achieved and the positive impact you have made.
- Reflection, communication and fun:
Much of Camps work in this community has been focused around the school, including building a house for the teacher and various school buildings. We are continuing that work, but, further, this relationship with the school opens up great opportunities for interaction between the group and the school students, who are always keen to learn English, share stories of their lives or just have a game of soccer with visiting groups. We often find that the shared language of sport and competition can transcend any difficulties in communication that may crop up through not having a shared vocabulary. A blowpipe competition rounds off the afternoon.
Of great importance is to reflect on what the group has achieved, and we ask the students to lead a discussion focused on that question - particularly looking at the service and learning elements of the time in camp.
Day 5 :
Jungle Trek to Chilli Urku (2 Nights)
- Begin hike:
After a hearty breakfast at camp, we will pack our rucksacks and hit the jungle trail en route to Camp Chilli Urku. Situated in a remote area of the rainforest, to arrive at the camp you'll trek for a couple of hours through the jungle - the journey is well worth it. During the trek,
students will learn about some of the indigenous plants and trees and how many are used for medicinal remedies.
- Welcome ceremony:
At Camp Chilli Urku, you will again be welcomed by the local community and this is a great opportunity for traditional face painting and the making of traditional, reed head-dresses. In the afternoon, we will tour this tiny community and investigate the service work projects that are on-going.
Camps has a series of interactive lectures, that cover subjects such as Stakeholder Engagement, Citizen Science and Threats to Biodiversity. These sessions can be run following discussion with the school of the topics considered most appropriate to the group.
Day 6 :
Service Project - Camp Chilli Urku
At Camp Chilli Urku we celebrate the idea of immersion, in the community and the jungle itself. Having slept in the jungle in a hammock, you will feel a part of the world around you and ready to take on its challenges.
- Conservation and sustainability:
Camps is working with the community in both reforestation and sustainable income generation. The community recognizes the importance of their natural environment and want to conserve it, but they need, and deserve, an income. We run a reforestation program with them, which, for our groups, may mean searching the nearby forest for seeds and saplings or working in a tree nursery planting native species. The saplings that are grown are either sold to generate income for the project or planted on community land as part of a process of reforestation. A significant part of the income generation process is promoting eco-tourism in the area, which the community have identified as a sustainable, long-term plan for themselves.
A student led session, following on from the previous reflection sessions, in which the group identifies goals achieved, both group and individual, both internal to the group and externally in the service work achievements, to bring context and resolution to the week's
experience before heading back out of the jungle.
Day 7 :
Trek Back to Donbiki - Transfer to Quito (1 Night)
After breakfast we will say good bye to our new-found friends and head back up out of the Amazon, into the Andes and the old colonial city of Quito.
A final dinner in Quito awaits and a chance to make final entries in Reflection Journals. It is often on this final night that individuals chose to share their own impressions of their experience and what they have learnt in an intense and very full week.
Camps pays close attention to the UN's Sustainable Development Goals in its work. In the placing of camps, identifying of communities, the consideration of appropriate service work and in program writing we ensure that we are working toward aims set out by the UN framework. At Camp Donbiki and Camp Chilli Urku we are focusing on UN SDG: 1: No Poverty, 4: Quality Education, 6: Clean Water and Sanitation, 13: Climate Action and 15: Life on Land.
Day 8 :
Departure from Quito
Depending on flight timings, it may be possible to grab a few hours of sightseeing and souvenir shopping in this ranging, high altitude capital.
Our rewarding and enjoyable experience comes to an end as we make our way to the airport on our final day.
- Recognize perspectives and communicate ideas:
3 College Preparatory Credits As a result of participating on this program, all high school students are eligible to take an online Global Perspectives course through a learning management system, where all the grading and assessment will be undertaken by the WorldStrides Curriculum and Academics team.
- Credits awarded:
Credit will be awarded upon successful completion of the online coursework with all costs associated with the course covered by WorldStrides.