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Written by volunteer Alice C.

This week in campamentos has been amazing. We worked in the national park Marino Ballena. It had some of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen!

We worked hard cleaning trails in all sections of the national park. We shoveled rocks, raked leaves, paved driveways, and more. I feel like we did a lot to help the understaffed park rangers and really clean and improve the national park.

The rangers taught us a lot of really cool information about the national park we were in. I learned that the part of Costa Rica we were in has 2% of the biodiversity in the world and that Marino Ballena has the only natural whale tail-shaped beach in the world. Every day while we were working, we saw a lot of monkeys climbing in the trees. We heard them making all kinds of super loud noises. I loved working on trails and being able to hear monkeys howling in the trees. It was an amazing feeling to be completely surrounded by nature and experiencing it in this way. We saw hundreds of little crabs everywhere, in the sand, under rocks, and even climbing up trees.

My favorite part of working at the beach was getting to go swimming. The water and the views were like nothing I have ever seen. It was my absolute favorite part of all of campamentos. These beaches were so clean and beautiful and I could have spent hours just staring at the sand. The weather was perfect, and we had so much fun swimming in the waves. The water was warm and tropical, perfect for after a day of working. It was the most relaxing experience I’ve had in a long time.

When we weren’t working or swimming, we did a lot of super fun activities to get to know each other like name games and even a prom! My favorite thing we did was the rally on the last day. We did wheelbarrow races, human pyramids and dance competitions. The friendships we made here are ones that can last a lifetime. At the end of it, we just sat in the rain and just talked. Getting to know everyone from the U.S,. and Costa Rica was amazing. I met people and connected with them in ways I never thought possible. There is nothing like exchanging cultures and learning from people in other countries. Living, working and bonding with everyone was an incredible experience. It was the best feeling in the world.

The week we spent in Marino Ballena will stay with me for the rest of my life. The jokes, the people, the work and everything in between are something I’m so thankful for. I’m sad to see it end, and I’ll miss everyone so much. Campamentos was an opportunity like no other, and I will never forget my time here.

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