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The site of a camp session held in April 2008

The site of a camp session held in April 2008

The SOS-OIC have developed the ‘Conservation Camp’ programme as an enjoyable and effective way for young Indonesians to learn about the environment and orangutan conservation. Representing key members of future societies, the participation of young people is essential in any attempt to safeguard the Sumatran orangutan and its tropical forest habitat. Our varied and informative environmental programme works to deliver key conservation messages and in-depth knowledge on species and habitat protection, using the orangutan as a flagship species for the tropical rainforests it inhabits.

Some of the students being grouped together

Some of the students being grouped together

For these programs 10 students are selected to represent each local school, with about 60 schools participating in each session. The students, along with their teachers, all come to an outdoor location and camp out for three days. This not only allows them to enjoy being outside and next to nature, (there’s forest nearby!) but it also serves to create a conservation network. In that all of these participants are out and learning together, sharing and discussing ideas amongst themselves and with SOS-OIC staff.

Our Education division coordinator, M. Indra Kurnia, describing the importance of composting

Our Education division coordinator, M. Indra Kurnia, describing the importance of composting

Students are given talks on wildlife, conservation issues, and practical conservation actions they can undertake themselves. They are given training in practical aspects of conservation such as paper recycling (and production!), composting, proper disposal of rubbish and the application of conservation tools and surveying techniques.

Paper recycling - paper is blended into a pulp, mixed with leaf material for effect, and then dried to form new paper.

Paper recycling - paper is blended into a pulp, mixed with leaf material for effect, and then dried to form new paper.

Through the use of interactive practical activities, educational films and targeted workshops, this programme has a high-impact, long-lasting effect at a grass-roots level, changing the way young people see their environment, whilst empowering them with the means to become actively involved in much-needed conservation projects themselves.

The composter built by the students

The composter built by the students

It doesn’t look like much (or very impressive!), but this handmade composter can be made very easily with readily available materials. The compost produced can then be used as organic fertilizer for any number of crops, both reducing the amount of waste to be discarded and also the need for any harsh, potentially expensive fertilizers.

Group discussions bring together students and teachers from different schools

Group discussions bring together students and teachers from different schools

The camp offers environmental training that is not offered in schools and also gives teachers the chance to receive training in communicating environmental messages so that the next generation will see the value in protecting their environment. The programme is free to attend for Indonesian students and teachers. Just recently, funding was awarded by BOS Canada (http://www.orangutan.ca/) to host another camp session in the Langkat province, which is one of the last provinces in North Sumatra where orangutans exist in the wild. Therefore the children from these communities are growing up and living in areas adjacent to key habitat areas for conservation and biodiversity.

Student read a poem about environment

Student read a poem about environment

It’s amazing the amount of knowledge and passion the children of Indonesia have demonstrated through programmes such as ours. As part of the closing ceremonies, they have a poetry session, where they recite verses they themselves write about the environment. It almost seems that if it were up to them alone, most all of the problems associated with orangutan conservation would come to an end.

By empowering young generations and instilling a sense of care and responsibility, the SOS-OIC is equipping a future generation with the tools and motivation needed. A system of community wildlife management is perhaps the only viable hope for conservation, of which environmental education programmes such as these can be seen as the first step towards securing a future for the wild orangutan.

First published on http://sos-oic.blogspot.com/2008/05/conservation-camps-programme.html