Costa Rica: A Very Big Adventure
Ruth Brown and Gene Watson were two of the trip leaders who took a group of excited seventh grade students to Costa Rica this Spring. They had an amazing time and were able to share their thoughts and insights regarding their adventure.
Why do think a trip like this is a valuable experience for students at PCA?
“In Costa Rica, while immersed in a new culture, our students have the opportunity to grow and face challenges that are physical, spiritual, and social. The students who chose to go, work together on team building activities throughout the year in preparation for the trip. While on the trip itself, they learn about the “Tico” culture with regard to family life and participate in a cooking class, eating Costa Rican family-style meals in their homes.
Also, the students visit a school and interact with the students by visiting classrooms, learning provincial dances, and completing a mission project at the school. This year, the team painted a fence in the kindergarten area. Then we ended the day with playing futbol (soccer) with the Costa Rican students.
“They are exposed to so many animals. On this trip we saw howler monkeys, sloths (both 2 and 3 toed!), red dart frogs, caimans, crocodiles, birds in their natural habitats, and many more. All of this gives the students a better understanding of God’s marvelous creation.
In particular, seventh grade students are at an ideal age to embrace challenges with enthusiasm. They are stretching their wings and eager for adventure, while learning! Their curriculum is a perfect match for this trip. In social studies, they have been learning about ancient cultures; we meet with an indigenous culture of Costa Rica and see a pottery demonstration passed down through generations. In science, they have been studying geology and biodiversity. Costa Rica is one of the most geologically active and biologically diverse locations on Earth. Students also are encouraged to speak Spanish, as this is the primary language of Costa Rica. The most valuable blessing of this trip for students is to see the love of Jesus shine through as we travel and share within the Tico culture through service.”
How did you see the students grow and learn during their time in Costa Rica?
First, the students grew personally with each other. Many did not really know or hang out with other classmates. They are now are life-long friends. During nightly devotions and journal writing, most grew spiritually from personal reflection and Bible study. Comments were made about sharing God’s love not only in the Costa Rican culture, but when they return home to PCA and their families.
The students grew in confidence as they overcame fears through zip-lining, white water rafting, and exploring caves underground. What a joy to hear words of encouragement for each team member in these experiences! Students engaged in conversation with the Ticos we met along the way. In one home, we had a cooking lesson with a woman named, Donia Sonia. She could not speak English, and yet the students expressed their joy, questions, and appreciation for her generosity. While completing our mission project the students wholeheartedly worked together. This group always had questions about whatever we were doing or seeing. They tried every food, participated in every activity, and were “IN THE MOMENT” always!
Each one grew in confidence and in leadership. On one occasion, one of the girls spied a sloth on a fence, and yelled out, “I saw a sloth!” Our guide and bus driver patiently backed up to see if it was really true. You can imagine their surprise (and our joy!) when sure enough, just 5 feet away the sloth was making her way across the barbed wire fence! The boys particularly went the extra mile in acts of chivalry. The girls very much appreciated it, and it was noted in our last night of devotions by one of the girls.
Lastly, the students grew in their appreciation for the bigger world around them. They realized how blessed they truly are and appreciated the value of this trip.