The following information was provided by Renbrook School.
Thirteen high school students spent a week working at the Cloud Forest School in Santa Elena, Costa Rica, providing much-needed manpower for campus maintenance.
Two West Simsbury students, Emily Burstein and Kate Maxon, were among the adventurers.
The Renbrook Summer Adventure campers were accompanied by chaperones, Sarah Davis, Renbrook School physical education teacher and Jon Ladd, Renbrook School alum.
The campers painted a second grade classroom, sanded and painted the outside of the fifth and sixth grade building, weeded an orchard and raked the pathways around the 106-acre campus in Costa Rica.
The Cloud Forest School is an independent school of 200 students from pre-school through eleventh grade. The school's mission is to nurture ecologically aware, academically well-rounded and bilingual individuals. The school is funded by sponsors from around the world and it depends on donated resources.
The trip provided an opportunity for the campers to learn about the world and experience life outside of their comfort zones. While in Santa Elena, the campers lived with local families, immersing themselves in Costa Rican culture and customs.
John Herd, Renbrook School science teacher, began the relationship with the Cloud Forest School almost seven years ago, and communication has continued with the unwavering support of Margaret Ayres, director of Renbrook Summer Adventure. Renbrook Summer Adventure raised funds for the school, donating school supplies and cameras.
The trip was not all work and no play. Campers took part in celebrations and festivities during the FIFA World Cup. They also learned about different nocturnal animals during night hikes, they toured a farm where they learned about chocolate and coffee production and they ziplined through the rainforest. They visited Tamarindo, a surfing town, and they hiked Rinco de la Vieja, learning about sulfuric gasses produced by the volcano.
Jon Ladd, a chaperone, is grateful to have had the opportunity to travel with these young adults.
“It is the opportunity of a lifetime to completely immerse yourself in another culture, living with the families and working at their school," he said. "I love seeing how much the kids grow as a result of this experience.”
Sarah Davis echoed his gratitude, quoting American philosopher William James.
“The greatest use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it,” James once said.
“This is the reason I lead these service trips," Davis reflected. "I feel that I am helping future generations grow and learn about the world.”