It has been a week since the first SDG Youth Camp by Palawan Council for Sustainable Development Staff (PCSDS) ended. Two days of camp and training for the pioneers of Youth Wildlife Savers Club have built inter-school friendships, introduced new standpoints, and flamed an inner fire to advocate for sustainable development in Palawan.

But before the campers go forth as champions of the environment in their respective campuses, here’s a quick review of the whole SDG Youth Camp experience.

The participants and organizers of the first Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Youth Camp held last Oct. 18 to 19 at PCSD Training Center, Brgy. Irawan. The camp was a project by Palawan Council for Sustainable Development Staff with support from USAID Protect Wildlife, 3rd Marine Brigade, Pilipinas Shell Foundation, and Wild Expeditions Palawan.

Meeting new friends, strengthening teamwork

All fifty campers from Kids World Learning Center, Life College, Salve Regina School of Palawan, and Palawan State University Laboratory High School were grouped into teams outside their usual peers. Though strangers at first, group chants, new challenges, and the need for a constant exchange of ideas have later turned them into almost inseparable camp buddies.

Here’s the camper’s guide to making the best team flag: first, choose an important wildlife species that need urgent help. Then, draw the right symbolisms and patterns. Mix them with bright colors, and *ta-da!* we have the perfect flags to represent the team!

Raising awareness on conservation issues

Speakers from various environmental and training organizations gave lectures, played video clips, and showed demonstrations to help campers understand the relationship between humans and the environment, help them level off with the present conservation challenges, and empower them to fulfill their role as Filipino youth in attaining the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

WHAT WOULD YOU FEEL? To illustrate the impact of plastic pollution on marine wildlife, plastic wastes were taped on the campers’ drawings.

Celebrating nature and cultural heritage

The first day was capped off with festive music, movements, and words solely dedicated to the uniqueness of Palawan and its natural wonders. Every beat of instruments, tapping of feet, to lines birthed from playscript had one resounding message: Palawan is beautifully beaming with life and it needs to be protected.

Exploring outdoors

It could have been just another morning for these junior high school students, except the wake-up alarm was not coming from their smartphones, but the rain’s sounds and its touch slowly creeping inside their tents. The rain is said to be a sign of blessing; in this case, of new adventures and lessons that can only be learned outside the four walls of the classroom.

As soon as the pouring ceased and after some stretch, hiking experts from the Wild Expeditions Palawan taught the Leave No Trace Behind principle to the campers and guided them on their way to Irawan River where they learned river crossing from the 3rd Marine Brigade.

To further help the campers appreciate human dependence on the natural environment, the next challenge was to learn how to prepare meals using only raw materials around them.

Committing to sustainability

Campers sealed the camp with a promise to become champions of sustainability. With the help of PCSD and partners, these leaders will meet regularly to engage their friends and school mates in their environmental programs and activities.

Bidding farewell

When awards have been given, things placed back in their bags and boxes, and group photos have been taken, it was time to go. Everyone was giving each other words of gratitude and encouragement before leaving in groups. The noise of laughter and excitement gradually faded, leaving only the sound of chirping birds and rustling leaves. Everything seemed to be the same, but hopefully not for the new young wildlife savers who completed the training. The camp has just ended but may the story of how the Youth Wildlife Savers Club transformed their schools begin.

Campers’ takeaways

Here are insights and takeaways shared by some of the campers:

Bea’s consistent eagerness to learn and lead her team with excellence from the beginning until the end has made the campers vote her as the Best Team Leader.
Bram was voted by his campmates as friendliest or the “Beshie ng Bayan”. Aside from his friendly character, he also possess great skills in writing that won him the camp’s Best Essay Award.
Before reaching high school, Hani was part of the Kiddie Wildlife Savers Club where she joined wildlife conservation activities of PCSD such as releasing wildlife back to their habitat. Throughout the SDG Youth Camp 2019, Hani, along with her campmates, has actively and generously shared talents and skills to accomplish the given tasks with brilliance.
Of all the activities, John’s favorite part was the interactive lectures. Before the camp ended, he happily took over the stage to start thanking his teachers and campmates and even encouraged them to put everything they have learned into practice.