Yat's Big Trip travel blog

My first physical piece of environmental conservation task... one which did not require much training. Beach cleaning; namely, picking up all inorganic materials off the beach - a nicer way of saying, "Thanks for picking up the trash!"

Luckily, it wasn't to be done only by the two volunteers (Sami and myself). Alex also threw in three scouts too - whose enthusisam for the task ahead did not grow after the half hour conversation we had with Alex. Surprisingly enough.

From the many 'picking up trash' experiences from camp, I knew that it would be more efficient if we could motivate the team - usually through competitive means. Kids can usually be easily bribed with the reward of ice lollies (or ice pops), especially if it's a hot day. As volunteers ourselves, we didn't have the budget to throw in some ice cold treats, so I wanted to play a game with them (which I made up myself). The first person to pick up twenty pieces of rubbish gets to hold the bag, which means a new round then begins, so they keep rotating. Unfortunately, my Spanish didn't quite come across, and Sami, the laidback Frenchman didn't agree with competitive games. So we picked rubbish the normal way, for perhaps twenty minutes.

Having given up trying to get them to continue with the work in Spanish, decided to give them my first informal English lesson, which mainly consisted of 'pick up five pieces of trash in twenty seconds! Go, go, go!" - and which didn't really work, especially when they found a half eaten away crocodile corpse, and threatened to throw it in my direction. They got so terribly distracted!

Two of them were slacking under a tree. I approached them, them thinking that they were about to get another telling off. Instead, decided to try another tactic. Motioned for them to drop the trash bag - at which, they were understandly confused, but did quite happily. Taught them the motion to 'The Junior Birdman' camp song, which involves silly lyrics and equally silly hand and body movements. But being 12 year old boys (I think that's how old they were), they were predictably intrigued. In fact, they ran over to the girl, and tried to get me to teach it to her too. It worked. They took the bait.

I said, I would only teach it to them, on a condition. They would have to have a race of who picks up the least trash in five minutes. Each having his or her designated home base for their trash, they dashed off quicker than I have seen them all morning. Luckily, Sami was very diplomatic as the judge, and declared them all to be joint winners! So they were all taught a round of 'The Princess Pat', which some of you know by now, I am pretty fond of.

Though we could have had more rounds and more songs, they badgered for Sami to play his guiter for some singing. About twenty minutes later, they skipped home (I even got a goodbye kiss) - dare I say, they may even be looking forward to our next beach cleaning session...????

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