“The Children’s Ramsar COP Junam English Camp” August 23 - 24 2008
S. Sunflower, English and Special Project Teacher (and a happy camper, too!), August 28 2008

Organized by Changwon City and the Korean Wetlands Project (UNDP/GEF-Ministry of Environment), hosted by Junam Eco-School, with the Education Program developed and led by Birds Korea.

The last weekend of the school summer vacation was a grand summer finale for over 30 kids and a dozen or more adults, at the Birds Korea-led English Environment Camp held near Joonam Reservoir in Changwon City.

The outdoor setting for the Camp: Joonam Reservoir, Photo © Nial Moores/Birds Korea

For two hot days, happy kids, teachers and support staff looked and listened and felt and learned about wetland environments, their importance to each of us, to Korea and to all countries in the world. The educational process was active. We learned a concept, took it into the field and explored it, talked about it, drew it, wrote it, and presented it back to each other, students and teachers learning alike.

Focusing on the role of birds as indicators of healthy wetland environments, we used slides to learn how to SEE, then we went into the wetlands and looked at the different habitats around us. To see, we closed our eyes and listened. To see, we kept our eyes closed while we described what we heard and felt. Much discussion ensued! Our ability to see expanded! Finally, we drew eco-maps of what we saw where we were in the Joonam wetlands, what we had heard and seen, and how they all fitted together in this environment.

Each team of students list things that they think are either good or bad for Birds and People at Joonam and presented their findings,
Photo © Nial Moores/Birds Korea

The second day, we learned more about how a bird’s put together, then used this vocabulary to describe them as we used the telescopes and binoculars we carried back into the field: structure/shape - long bill? Long legs? What purpose did they serve? Contrast: dark and light or neutral? On the upper or underparts of this bird? Plumage colors - was that a blue streak or dark green?

There were games - guess the “eco-word” posted on your forehead! And in spite of the heat and humidity, the kids ran off their pent up learning energy, as the sun went down in the yard. There were songs, Zippity Do Da, adapted to wetlands and herons and other new friends.

One team got their point across by making their own TV News Show, “Environment News” (ironic, as most of the
weekend was being filmed by a real TV network!), Photo © Nial Moores/Birds Korea

Throughout the camp, we were supported by people from the village arriving exactly at the right time with lunch and dinner - good food, too! Joonam Eco-School staff provided support the entire time we were on site. And overall, we are grateful to the spectacular programming provided by Korea Wetlands Project and Changwon City that allowed Birds Korea to provide this educational opportunity again this year.

Part of reason to hold this camp, at this time and in this place, is in preparation for the Tenth Conference of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, THE inter-governmental Convention working for the world’s water and wetlands. The importance of Changwon City, Joonam Reservoir and other wetlands sites in Korea, is that this internationally important event will be held here in Changwon City, from 28th October - 4th November! Not only did our camp teach kids great ecological concepts, it helped promote the importance of wetlands in Korea and the Ramsar COP 10 in the world.

We invite you to join Birds Korea (easy to do through our website), to get involved with developing educational materials (we are even now just finishing off a textbook on wetlands and the environment), to come to Changwon for a day during the Ramsar COP 10 (we hope to have a booth there), and to volunteer at the next Birds Korea Environment Camp. Join us to be sure you are informed!

A very satisfying weekend, with lots learnt, new friends made... and some budding leaders of the
next environment-minded generation, Photo © Hong Su-Yeon