Since last year I spend part of my summer working as a trip leader for the wildlife & conservation on assignment with National Geographic Student Expeditions (NGSE). NGSE is organized by a travel agency based in a beautiful barn in Putney, Vermont, therefore called Putney Student Travel (PST). Besides their more recent involvement with National Geographic PST actually organizes world wide trips for high school students. They offer students the opportunity to spend a few weeks of their summer vacation in a different country whilst getting involved with community service projects, cultural exploration, language learning and much more.
Earlier this year I helped PST to set up a community service program in Las Tolas, the nearby village and in June a group of 11 high school kids together with two leaders visited. They stayed in Las Tolas for a few weeks and helped to build a community center and a nature trail to a waterfall. I also got to spend a couple of days with the group in the last few weeks.
End of June the students and their leaders Ryanne and Sam came down from Las Tolas to spend their free day in the reserve. In the morning I hiked down to the river Pachijal with them explaining some features of the rainforest along the way. At the river we all had a very nice swim and then we hiked back to the station where Wilo already waited for us with lunch. The afternoon we spent altogether in front of our new TV watching the world cup.
The weekend after I met the group in Mindo and guided them for two days. We visited the waterfalls, tubed down the Mindo river and made our own chocolate fondue. These are the typical things-to-do in Mindo which are always a lot fun, even after doing this so many times.
Unfortunately the three weeks in Las Tolas went by very fast and last wednesday the group already had their last night. We were also invited and it was fun to join the Las Tolas community celebrating their good-bye party.