The week before the Spring 2012 internship started, interns from all over the U.S., some international, began arriving at the place where they would start their 3-month adventure in Panama. Outnumbering all other programs, the seven Outdoor Recreation interns began collaborating and brainstorming right off the bat.
The first week in the valley ideas were being thrown left and right, some feasible, others not. As an ice-breaker and warm-up for the team, Outdoor Rec took the initiative to rebuild the existing, overgrown volleyball court to make a better, more resilient court. Lacking machinery to tear away the grass, the team grabbed hold of shovels, pick axes, and rakes, and began manually excavating the court. Once down to the dirt, the team pinned down plastic sheeting, and covered with locally harvested sand from the nearby river. The first project complete, and our community would benefit from it for the remainder of the semester and beyond.
The next main project is an ongoing project that was well-established by the interns this semester. Through the thick of the jungle that covers the mountain on the property, beaten-down cattle paths leave a labyrinth of winding trails. Outdoor Recreation, along with a Biology member, teamed up to make the second main hiking trail on the property: “Honeycreeper”, one of the birds seen and identified just off the path. Days of hard work resulted in a beautiful, 15 minute trail that goes in and out of the canopy and leads to the first main trail, created by the Summer 2011 interns.
The first trail, now named “Hormiga Cortada”, leads to the highest point on the property. An intern led the role of clearing out the invasive grass species that stood in front of the view. Although this will likely grow back rapidly because it is so invasive, the view looking down on the property, seeing the two rivers meet and flow down the valley, the “campesino rancho” houses across the mountains, and our basecamp headquarters with an ant-size work force, puts into perspective the countless opportunities for Outdoor Rec to conserve the natural land by using it as a leisurely and educational tool.
Amongst many other projects, including: a needs assessment, a proposal for a low ropes course, case studies of eco-tourism resorts, rock climbing destinations, and many more, the Spring 2012 interns laid down a great foundation for prospective interns to come down and work. From continuing to maintain the existing trails, to creating new ones, designing parks, and proposing other outdoor recreation activites, future interns are left with a plethora of projects to choose from.
Whether you study Outdoor Recreation or simply enjoy it as a hobby, Kau Yala offers a hands-on learning adventure, and is still accepting applications for Summer and Fall 2012! Experience the unique opportunity of entering an undeveloped landscape with creative and innovative freedom to create and pursue your goals! Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.