Summer Students Groups 2013

During the months of June, July & August of 2013 Bahia Aventuras & Geoporter are working with students to construct trash containers made from plastic bottles used during the tours. The student groups meet every Friday, after a Whale Watching Tour at the headquarters of Bahia Aventuras to work with Cindy Thiele , Luz Mirian Badilla & Amy Work (active community collaborators & Geoporter members) and our guides Wayner and Reimer. During the afternoon they create 3-4 trash containers that are composed of 458 bottles each. During this process the students have the opportunity to learn how to transform and resume trash and recyclable in order to minimize the pollution of our oceans and environment.

The goal is to deliver and place these trash containers for classrooms in the schools, at the newly constructed covered bus stops andat the entrance to Mariono Ballena National Park in our community.

Other projects students groups are working on are beach clean ups and painting and repairing the rangers stations and the facilities at the Marino Ballena National Park.

Creating opportunities for our youth

Bahia-Uvita Youth Program “Grupo SURF”

SURF is a community-based organization that empowers youth as integral agents of change in the sustainable development of their communities. SURF is founded on the belief that youth are a fundamental resource in promoting responsible community development and creating a healthy future for themselves and their communities.
In Bahia Ballena, Osa, Costa Rica, SURF provides youth the opportunity to participate in capacity-building programs that enhance their quality of life, help them gain employment options and improve their decision-making processes.

Youth and Conservation

Costa Rica covers less than 1% of the earth’s surface area but contains 5% of the world’s biodiversity. It has 26% of its 52,100 km2 of land under protection, but less than 1% of  its 580,000 km2 of marine territory under protection.
SURF’s program operates in Bahia Ballena, Osa, a region that includes 149,808 hectares of protected areas including three national parks, two reserves a wildlife refuge and a marine national park.  The Osa area contains an incredibly diverse set of ecosystems that are currently being threatened by unregulated tourism, pollution, illegal extraction of floral and fauna and commercial and real estate development.

Bahia-Uvita and the Marino Ballena National Park

The community of Bahia Ballena is located at the footsteps of Marino Ballena National Park, Costa Rica’s first Marine National Park, which was established in 1989.  The park is the main tourist attraction in the area and plays a key role in the community’s socioeconomic development.  Conservation efforts in the Marino Ballena National Park and the greater Osa region can be improved by empowering youth as integral agents of change in the sustainable development of their communities.

SURFs Methodology

SURF is based on the education methodology: Tell me, I’ll forget; Show me and I may remember; Engage me and I’ll understand.   Students participate in hands-on activities around their neighborhood through which they gain a deeper understanding of their community, its needs and the steps they can take to bring about institutional change.  SURF participants learn GIS and GPS mapping techniques so that they can create comprehensive maps of the greater Bahia Ballena region.  They go on excursions into the Marino Ballena National Park and coastal mountains to learn about relevant topics such as whale migration and the origin of their town’s potable water.
SURF’s curriculum is divided into four modules called “The Four Waves” that encompass six months of weekly sessions.  Each wave contains trainings, workshops and extra-curricular activities that engage students with their community and marine protected area.  As students progress through the Four Waves, they participate in activities that encourage self-awareness by connecting them to their community, environment and peers.  After gaining a sense of belonging in their community, students learn the skills of a responsible leader and master the techniques for project design and management.  The group then employs the knowledge they have acquired to develop and implement independent, sustainable community projects. The group culminates its SURF experience by learning that generosity is rooted in one’s intention to care for the common good of a community. After graduating, youth participants become SURF mentors for future SURF generations, ensuring the sustainability of the program and living the knowledge and skills developed throughout their participation in the Four Waves.

Strategic Alliances

The KETO Foundation is a “non-profit organization focused on the study of biology, management and conservation of marine and coastal resources.” KETO uses its research on marine ecosystems in Osa to teach SURF youth the importance of aquatic management and conservation. The KETO – University of DUKE – SURF partnership empowers youth through marine education and interactive excursions such as snorkeling, whale watching and beach clean-ups, providing youth the opportunity to engage and build a relationship with their Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).
Bahia Aventuras
Bahia Aventuras is a boat and nature tour operator in the national parks and reserves located in the Uvita-Bahia Ballena area.  SURF partners with Bahia Aventuras to augment students’ experiences studying the marine life in their community with boat tours and other excursions into the protected areas.
Bodhi Surf School in Bahia Ballena utilizes the incredible resource of Marino Ballena National Park to provide a unique surfing experience focused on a mind-body-earth awareness. Bodhi Surf provides lessons for SURF participants, introducing them to the national park and helping them build ocean awareness and confidence in themselves.
Outside The Lens (OTL) is a San Diego-based organization that works to “engage, educate and empower youth on issues affecting the world today” by promoting youth literacy through the arts.  SURF has partnered with OTL to bring dynamic photography and multimedia projects into the SURF curriculum that encourage students to reflect on the role they play in their community.
La Cusinga is a “coastal rainforest eco lodge dedicated to marine and terrestrial conservation and environmental education.” Located in Bahia Ballena, Osa, the lodge has obtained four out of five leaves marking certified sustainable tourism. La Cusinga maintains private trails to primary rainforest through which they lead SURF students on educational walks. Staff also teach SURF students about sustainable hotel operations.
GISETC has spent the last ten years providing workshops, software and curricula for both educators and students.  GISETC provides SURF students with GPS hand units and teaches the students how to use GIS and GPS mapping techniques as a tool to map their community’s resources.

Always improving our services

Through continuous trainings Bahia Aventuras guides have earned certifications from the Costa Rica National Area of Conservation System known as SINAC.  Although finishing the courses is a great achievement, the Bahia Aventuras team continues to increase their knowledge and skills by participating in different courses and trainings.  One course that the guides are currently participating in is offered by UNED.  The course is composed of 7 modules such as local geography, natural history, tourist legislation, first aid and tourism control and will last approximately 3 months.  Team Bahia Aventuras is always looking for opportunities to learn more in order to continue providing the most responsible and best service in the Uvita-Bahia and Osa area.

Reimer Carnet ACOSA 1RAFA Carnet ACOSA 1

Summer Student Travel Groups

Summer Student Travel Groups
Bahia Aventuras has started organizing plans to host several student travel groups for the summer of 2010 in Uvita-Bahia Ballena.  Community service, whale watching, snorkeling, surf lessons, and cultural exchanges are some of the highlights of the 2010 summer programming.
For the third year in a row Bahia Aventuras will play host to Rustic Pathways Surf and Service program.  The program has a focus on learning how to surf, community service, and participating in cultural exchanges with local community members and youth.  Included in the program is the famous Cano Island Snorkel Tour with Bahia Aventuras where students get to learn about the Marino Ballena National Park, participate in whale watching, dolphin encounters, and snorkel beautiful reefs in one of Costa Rica’s best island tours!
When the students aren’t busy taking surf lessons, snorkeling, whale watching or enjoying a beautiful sunset they will work closely with community members on small-scale construction, environmental, and social projects that will contribute to community’s economic development.  By working alongside community members the students will immerse in the flow of life in the friendly beach town of Uvita-Bahia Ballena and learn about the culture of PURA VIDA!
Radical sunsets, beaches lined with palm trees, crystal clear blue water, and friendly locals all contribute to a great week for the students in Uvita-Bahia Ballena.

Student Travel GroupBahia Aventuras has started organizing plans to host several student travel groups for the summer of 2010 in Uvita-Bahia Ballena. Community service, whale watching, snorkeling, surf lessons, and cultural exchanges are some of the highlights of the 2010 summer programming. For the third year in a row Bahia Aventuras will play host to Rustic Pathways Surf and Service program.  The program has a focus on learning how to surf, community service, and participating in cultural exchanges with local community members and youth.  Included in the program is the famous Cano Island Snorkel Tour with Bahia Aventuras where students get to learn about the Marino Ballena National Park, participate in whale watching, dolphin encounters, and snorkel beautiful reefs in one of Costa Rica’s best island tours!  When the students aren’t busy taking surf lessons, snorkeling, whale watching or enjoying a beautiful sunset theyCommunity Servicewill work closely with community members on small-scale construction, environmental, and social projects that will contribute to community’s economic development.  By working alongside community members the students will immerse in the flow of life in the friendly beach town of Uvita-Bahia Ballena and learn about the culture of PURA VIDA!  Radical sunsets, beaches lined with palm trees, crystal clear blue water, and friendly locals all contribute to a great week for the students in Uvita-Bahia Ballena.

The Adventures of Aventuras

The Adventure of Aventuras – by Kristal Griffith
In September of 2009, four students in the Professional-MBA program at the University of Denver set out on an adventure. They were charged with the mission of helping a business in Costa Rica become profitable while having a positive impact on people and the planet. That business was Bahia Aventuras.
Walter Brenes, the owner of Bahia Aventuras, has had opportunities to work with educational institutions in the past, but chose to work with the faculty at the University of Denver because of their approach. The introduction between Brenes and the University of Denver was made by Global Journeys Inc. owner Franco Marini and staff member Kay LatchmanSingh.
“We felt that Franco, Kay and the DU staff were dedicated to creating an experience that brings people together to enhance people-to-people understanding and grow friendships between people of different countries, languages, cultures, religions, socio-economic classes and political outlooks with an emphasis on equality among all humans regardless of personal circumstances,” Brenes says.
The students traveled to Costa Rica and met Brenes and his staff for the first time on the morning of Sept. 4, 2009.
“I was nervous to meet the Bahia team,” says Geoff Bieging, a P-MBA student. “I didn’t know how sophisticated their business practices would be, nor did I know if language or business practices would be a huge barrier. Fortunately, Walter speaks great English, and he was able to share a vision that is consistent across all borders.”
The participants did have communication help. Travis Bays, long-time friend and Peace Corps volunteer, helped Brenes start the business in 2007. His knowledge of the business and fluency in Spanish and English was critical.
“I cannot express how impressed I was with Walter and Travis,” says Pete Crowe, P-MBA student. “Here are two guys our age who were willing to take a risk on something they truly believe in. They are working to create a successful business and they are always thinking about how the business can contribute to the local community of Bahia Ballena.”
After the initial meeting, the Denver and Bahia teams decided to meet for dinner that evening at a local pizza restaurant called La Fogata. It was a memorable evening for all.
“My favorite part of my entire trip was the evening spent at the local pizza shop,” says Chaun Powell, P-MBA student. “It was important to me because it helped me understand what was important to Walter and Travis. Meeting Walter’s family made it clear to all of us that there is more to this than a business plan and a financial statement.”
“Rapidly we were able to connect on a very intimate level,” Bays says. “From our first meeting to the dinner party at La Fogata Pizza, our relationship as a team was built with shared values underlining friendship as number one.”
Since September, the two teams have been communicating through email and Skype to come up with ideas to build Bahia Aventuras.
It’s been an education of heart and mind for Team Denver.
“I think DU struck gold with Bahia Aventuras,” Powell says. “Walter and Travis’s innate excitement never die attitude, and unprecedented charisma have certainly made this experience memorable. I look forward to future memories made between the two teams as Bahia grows in an ethical and sustainable manner.”
“If anything, it has helped me learn how to probe a business owner and learn some of his/her key touch points,” Bieging says.
“I was truly inspired by Travis’s incredible motivation, Walter’s incredible spirit and how savvy both these guys really are,” Crowe says. “It was refreshing and encouraging to see two friends take a risk on something they believe in and work like crazy to make it happen. And there is no doubt these two will make it happen!”

The Adventure of Aventuras – by Kristal Griffith

In September of 2009, four students in the Professional-MBA program at the University of Denver set out on an adventure.

Team Denver-Bahia AventurasThey were charged with the mission of helping a business in Costa Rica become profitable while having a positive impact on people and the planet. That business was Bahia Aventuras.

Walter Brenes, the owner of Bahia Aventuras, has had opportunities to work with educational institutions in the past, but chose to work with the faculty at the University of Denver because of their approach. The introduction between Brenes and the University of Denver was made by Global Journeys Inc. owner Franco Marini and staff member Kay LatchmanSingh.

“We felt that Franco, Kay and the DU staff were dedicated to creating an experience that brings people together to enhance people-to-people understanding and grow friendships between people of different countries, languages, cultures, religions, socio-economic classes and political outlooks with an emphasis on equality among all humans regardless of personal circumstances,” Brenes says.

The students traveled to Costa Rica and met Brenes and his staff for the first time on the morning of Sept. 4, 2009.

“I was nervous to meet the Bahia team,” says Geoff Bieging, a P-MBA student. “I didn’t know how sophisticated their business practices would be, nor did I know if language or business practices would be a huge barrier. Fortunately, Walter speaks great English, and he was able to share a vision that is consistent across all borders.”

The participants did have communication help. Travis Bays, long-time friend and Peace Corps volunteer, helped Brenes start the business in 2007. His knowledge of the business and fluency in Spanish and English was critical.

“I cannot express how impressed I was with Walter and Travis,” says Pete Crowe, P-MBA student. “Here are two guys our age who were willing to take a risk on something they truly believe in. They are working to create a successful business and they are always thinking about how the business can contribute to the local community of Bahia Ballena.”

After the initial meeting, the Denver and Bahia teams decided to meet for dinner that evening at a local pizza restaurant called La Fogata. It was a memorable evening for all.

“My favorite part of my entire trip was the evening spent at the local pizza shop,” says Chaun Powell, P-MBA student. “It was important to me because it helped me understand what was important to Walter and Travis. Meeting Walter’s family made it clear to all of us that there is more to this than a business plan and a financial statement.”

“Rapidly we were able to connect on a very intimate level,” Bays says. “From our first meeting to the dinner party at La Fogata Pizza, our relationship as a team was built with shared values underlining friendship as number one.”

Since September, the two teams have been communicating through email and Skype to come up with ideas to build Bahia Aventuras.

It’s been an education of heart and mind for Team Denver.

“I think DU struck gold with Bahia Aventuras,” Powell says. “Walter and Travis’s innate excitement never die attitude, and unprecedented charisma have certainly made this experience memorable. I look forward to future memories made between the two teams as Bahia grows in an ethical and sustainable manner.”

“If anything, it has helped me learn how to probe a business owner and learn some of his/her key touch points,” Bieging says.

“I was truly inspired by Travis’s incredible motivation, Walter’s incredible spirit and how savvy both these guys really are,” Crowe says. “It was refreshing and encouraging to see two friends take a risk on something they believe in and work like crazy to make it happen. And there is no doubt these two will make it happen!”

Bahia Aventuras and Thinking Beyond Borders – Bringing different cultures together

Bahia Aventuras and Thinking Beyond Borders – The Ideal start to a Gap Year Program
In September 2009 Bahia Aventuras teamed with Thinking Beyond Borders for the second year in a row to help facilitate the best gap year program in the world!  Thinking Beyond Borders gap year program is designed for students to explore international development through global service learning and academic study.  The organization has the mission:
To empower youth as agents of proactive change by developing consciousness of global issues.
To translate learning into action.
Thinking Beyond Borders program orientation in Uvita – Bahia Ballena, is an opportunity to prepare for eight months of service learning and traveling throughout South America, Africa, Asia and the USA.  During the orientation students begin exploring the curriculum by learning about various development issues and why they are immediate problems in each country.  They also learn how to travel in a culturally sensitive manner, how to communicate with people when you don’t speak the same language, and how to immerse yourself into a new community.  Finishing out the orientation, students learn the safety protocol, including how to prevent minor illness, general traveling “do’s and don’ts, and good conduct to keep yourself healthy and safe.  The orientation program challenges students to develop new perspectives on themselves and the world. Set goals to reach new levels of personal and global consciousness. Identify strengths and pinpoint areas to improve. Engage in team building and leadership activities that unite this incredible and talented group of individuals.

In September 2009 Bahia Aventuras teamed with Thinking Beyond Borders for the second year in a row to help facilitate the best gap year program in the world!  Thinking Beyond Borders gap year program is designed for students to explore international development through global service learning and academic study.  The organization has the mission:

  • To empower youth as agents of proactive change by developing consciousness of global issues.
  • To translate learning into action.

The Ideal start to a Gap Year Program

Thinking Beyond Borders program orientation in Uvita – Bahia Ballena, Osa, Costa Rica is an opportunity to prepare for eight months of service learning and traveling throughout South America, Africa, Asia and the USA.  During the orientation students begin exploring the curriculum by learning about various development issues and why they are immediate problems in each country.  They also learn how to travel in a culturally sensitive manner, how to communicate with people when you don’t speak the same language, and how to immerse yourself into a new community.  Finishing out the orientation, students learn the safety protocol, including how to prevent minor illness, general traveling “do’s and don’ts, and good conduct to keep yourself healthy and safe.  The orientation program challenges students to develop new perspectives on themselves and the world. Set goals to reach new levels of personal and global consciousness. Identify strengths and pinpoint areas to improve. Engage in team building and leadership activities that unite this incredible and talented group of individuals.

Bahia Aventuras and Thinking Beyond Borders

Together with Bahia Aventuras Team Members and local community leaders, the Thinking Beyond Borders students attend workshops about local community economic development.  Connect with nature and create powerful experiences while participating in whale watching, snorkeling, and dolphin encounter boat tours in the Marino Ballena National Park.  Learn yoga and surfing while living for 10 days where the rainforest and the ocean come together.  They hike through primary and secondary rainforest, swim under waterfalls, play beach soccer and reflect on the journey to come while watching the sunset over the famous Punta Uvita Whale Tail.

Check out the album of Thinking Beyond Borders 2009-10 student photos from the 11 day orientation in Costa Rica!

Responsible Marine Tourism Practices

Bahia Aventuras, the KETO Foundation, and the Association of Marine Tour Operators of the Marino Ballena National Park, in Uvita – Bahia Ballena have been working together over the last few months in the development of Responsible Marine Tourism Practices. Through many meetings, discussions, and trainings, drafts of the standards were developed, reviewed, and revised in a consensus-building process.  Development of the standards for Planning of Boat Tours, Boat Maintenance, Training of Boat Captains and Guides, Community Responsibility, Navigation, Whale watching, Snorkeling and Scuba Diving, is only the beginning.  Next, is the implementation phase and then field-testing.  Many local companies are still in the process of adopting the standards and will work together with the KETO Foundaton and the Association of Marine Tour Operators of the Marino Ballena National Park to evaluate their overall effectiveness, attainability, and affordability.
Leading the way in accomplishing the standards is Team Bahia Aventuras.  Establishing a plan for each category, Bahia Aventuras will be implementing the rigorous standards in 2010  to achieve the most Responsible Operation of Marine Tourism possible, and continue providing visitors the best and most sustainable boat and nature tours in Uvita – Bahia Ballena, Osa, Costa Rica.

Bahia Aventuras, the KETO Foundation, and the Association of Marine Tour Operators of the Marino Ballena National Park, in Uvita – Bahia Ballena have been working together over the last few months in the development of Responsible Marine Tourism Practices. Through many meetings, discussions, and trainings, drafts of the standards were developed, reviewed, and revised in a consensus-building process.  Development of the standards for Planning of Boat Tours, Boat Maintenance, Training of Boat Captains and Guides, Community Responsibility, Navigation, Whale watching, Snorkeling and Scuba Diving, is only the beginning.  Next, is the implementation phase and then field-testing.  Many local companies are still in the process of adopting the standards and will work together with the KETO Foundaton and the Association of Marine Tour Operators of the Marino Ballena National Park to evaluate their overall effectiveness, attainability, and affordability.

Leading the way in accomplishing the standards is Team Bahia Aventuras.  Establishing a plan for each category, Bahia Aventuras will be implementing the rigorous standards in 2010  to achieve the most Responsible Operation of Marine Tourism possible, and continue providing visitors the best and most sustainable boat and nature tours in Uvita – Bahia Ballena, Osa, Costa Rica.