In our ongoing series of notes from the field in Camp Kenya, I asked Chris and Sarah (our Marine Conservation Program Coordinators) to put together a little rant about their first week at our Ocean Camp. From the sounds of it, these two seem to have a stress free season… Ocean CampKaribu sana kampi ya baharini!!!!!! Or, welcome to Camp Ocean for those of you yet to master any Swahili. So‰Û_ Kampi ya baharini‰Û_ what‰Ûªs it all about??? In a nutshell; Beach sports, massages, sunburn and lots and lots of flip flops (with a bit of diving thrown in)!! At Camp Ocean the emphasis is on beach lifestyle and all the fun and games that go with it. We focus on marine conservation issues and do our bit towards keeping the beach clean and educating the local children. Over the next couple of months we will cater for twelve schools and over 400 students and teachers. After several hectic weeks of preparation, the camp, (and more importantly the non-alcoholic beach bar) was officially declared open the evening our first guests arrived from Poole UK. The truck ferrying our first guests from the airport pulled into Camp Ocean at 2pm last Friday. After a 24 hour journey, thankfully with minimal drama, everyone Bring it on Camp Kenyaslipped straight to bed. Because of the late arrival we thought it was only fair to allow them a bit of a lie-in so breakfast was postponed to a very reasonable 9am.åÊ The rest of the morning was spent settling in (and of course trying out the beach volleyball and testing the water temperature!). Turtle swollows naughty childrenAfter a delicious lunch courtesy of our head chef Samson, we decided it was about time we made a start with our project work. There were flip flops to be sorted and Fadhili, our resident fisherman/ flip flop artist, was itching to get going! Our five-star and very expensive Mkokoteni began to prove its worth as large piles of flip flops were moved, from where we had unceremoniously dumped Our first flipflop turtles!them over the last several weeks, to the project area. Here they were sorted into their respective colours, ready to be transformed into key rings, various other arts and crafts and, most importantly, a giant turtle and whale shark! The turtle and whale shark are the creations of our local artist, Benson (some of you may remember our first flipflop whaleshark – click HERE) and, eager as he was to get going, Fadhili thought it was better to begin mastering the art of flip-flop crafts on a slightly smaller scale (at least to begin with). I love to play with trash on TwitpicBy early evening everyone had managed to sculpt something out of flip flops (with varying levels of success). Our first day culminated with a game of beach football as the light began to fade and the sun dropped below the horizon. Once everyone had showered and eaten we relaxed around the camp fire giving us a chance to reflect on our first day. There were inevitably going to be one or two teething problems to overcome. The soft drinks for our beach bar were yet to arrive and Benson was still frantically trying to source the remaining materials for his African art workshops. Despite this we had made it through relatively unscathed; all the buildings were still standing and there were no major or minor injuries. Overall we decided the opening day could certainly be considered a success. At a very modest 10pm everyone headed off to bed. No more lie-ins were scheduled for the rest of the trip! After some early morning discussions on coral reefs and the threat of marine debris, the pupils and teachers partook in a sand castle building competition. Jackson (or MJ as he is affectionately known), a Masai who sells crafts and jewelry at the camp, was on hand to judge. The winning effort was enjoyed by all, including several guests from Pinewood Beach Resort next door, who couldn‰Ûªt help but wonder down the beach to have a look. Poole School get cool That afternoon was spent planning for the arrival of Madago Primary School who were arriving the following morning to participate in our first beach cleanup! The beach cleanup the following morning was a bit of an eye opener for everyone; ourselves included. Although our beaches look pristine, they are anything but. OverBeach clean-ups about an 800m stretch of beach , 20 bags of taka taka (rubbish) were collected. Our mkokoteni once again proved a hit, and even had to return to camp at one point as it started overflowing. Fadhili oversaw the collection of discarded flip flops and was very pleased with the mornings haul! In the afternoon the local school children were ably taught about marine conservation by the students from Poole. The emphasis was on fun with games and poster making dominating proceedings. Our first visit by a local school could hardly have gone better. The interaction between the pupils was fantastic and everyone seized the opportunity to learn from one another. We are really looking forward to being visited by many more local schools and pupils in the next two months. Through our environmental education workshops we really hope that we can make a contribution to the future of this coastline. Take FiveThe next day Poole began their Padi open water dive training with our partners Southern Cross Scuba. This gave the staff time to recuperate whilst our guests got the chance to experience some of the world‰Ûªs best dive sites! It wasn‰Ûªt all rest and relaxation for us though. The next schools are arriving soon and there is plenty of preparation to be done. Poole are still staying at our camp, looked after by our wonderful manager Winnie. The evenings are spent enjoying Samson and his team‰Ûªs wonderful cooking, studying for the next day‰Ûªs diving or watching and taking part in some African dancing. The Camp Ocean team has really pulled together at the critical time. We would really like to thank everyone for making our opening week such a great success. We hope to have some more good stories to report soon. Until next time‰Û_ Chris & Sarah (PS. Click on the photo below to see more…) Diani Beach