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6 Oct 2021

Summer camps 2021: Investing in a greener future through sustainability education

Chatteris’ own Luke Athow talks us through the environment-themed English summer camps we hosted for students this summer.

The need for change

Each year environmental concerns grow, with mounting plastic waste washing up on shorelines, bunker oil coating the surface of the ocean, and the very air getting thicker. Pressure has been mounting for fundamental change in environmental policy to protect what we see around us, not only for our own wellbeing but for those that share this planet with us. 2021 has been a substantial year for news on the health of the planet with the landmark IPCC 2021 report, influencing policymakers and educators alike. With that being said, Chatteris Educational Foundation has put its best foot forward in taking action by debuting its Environment and Sustainable Education (ESE) programme this summer.

The role of environmental education

Having established itself in the Hong Kong education system, Chatteris found itself in a unique position to do its part for the planet. Specifically, by increasing environmental awareness at the grassroots level for those with limited access to engaging environmental programmes, all whilst improving participants’ English-speaking skills.

To do this, Chatteris set out to put together an interactive learning experience geared towards raising environmental awareness, in the Hong Kong context, whilst also staying true to its core vision and mission: to empower Hong Kong students’ English-speaking proficiency and intercultural understanding. 

This came to fruition with a series of environment-focussed summer camps. Over three days, Chatteris Tutors took a group of students to Lamma Island and Kadoorie Farm & Botanic Garden to have hands-on experiences with the environment whilst also developing their English-speaking skills.

Students learnt about power sources while on-site at Lamma Winds wind farm | Image by Jake Morton

Day 1: coastal impact

The first day of the three-day camp saw the tutors and students venture to Lamma Island to spend the day investigating how humans impact coastal settings, explore how people can then minimise their impact, and learn about endangered species in Hong Kong. Power Station Beach acted as the classroom for the day, allowing Chatteris Tutors to host their very own ‘Beach Olympics’ which included environmental-themed games that encouraged recycling and an endangered animal sand sculpting competition. At the end of the day, a grand ceremony was conducted where the winning team was crowned the victor. After flaring their competitive spirit, each group did their part for the environment by attempting to clear the beach of as much plastic pollution as possible – which also led to some very soggy Chatteris Tutors!

A ‘beach olympics’ activity allowed students to apply their new knowledge while getting competitive | Jake Morton

Day 2: flora and fauna

On Day Two the summer camp visited Kadoorie Farm, an organisation rooted in providing aid for Hong Kong, whether that be for its people or the environment. The camp visited for a comprehensive walk and talk on what KFBG does to help the flora and fauna of Hong Kong and what we as individuals can do to aid animals in this sprawling metropolis. Throughout the day the group got close and personal with Barking Deer, Dog-Faced Bat, a variety of Raptors, Leopard Cats, and a very close encounter with a Ball Python named Bello!

Hands-on learning opportunities at Kadoorie Farm included an encounter with a real python | Image by Jake Morton

Day 3: wildlife and renewables

The final day of the camp was back to Lamma Island, this time for a nature walk and a discussion on renewable energies in Hong Kong at Lamma Winds, Hong Kong’s only terrestrial wind turbine. The nature walk acted as a chance for students to open their senses and appreciate the wonderful nature that can be seen every day in Hong Kong. Utilising specially designed booklets, students were able to identify numerous wildlife on the nature walk. Once the group reached Lamma Winds they discussed the limited role of renewable energies in Hong Kong and brainstormed ways this could change, as well as putting their brains to the test with some energy riddles.

During nature walks, students learnt how to identify different species, ticking off the creatures they spotted in their camp handbook | Image by Jake Morton

A summer well spent

As the summer camps drew to an end the Chatteris Tutors reflected on the students, and their own, experience. Overall, the Tutors felt that they had made a profound impact on the students, boosting their confidence in speaking English and improving environmental awareness for the students involved. However, there are still improvements to be made and more to be done. Some student comments from the camps include: 

“Thanks for making these inspiring activities for us. We learned while playing. Teachers are kind and easy going, appreciate it.”

“I think the summer camp is very interesting, the teachers are very funny and nice.”

“I appreciate all of your efforts, but I recommend organizing an overnight camp.”

Interested in providing immersive experiential learning opportunities to under-served students in Hong Kong? Become a Chatteris Tutor, like Luke – click here to apply.

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