On July 7-9, The Bahamas Plastic Movement (BPM) teamed up with The Island School to host its first ever Marine Debris and Me Plastic Pollution Camp. Twelve students aged 9-14 from throughout South Eleuthera, Bahamas were welcomed onto the Island School campus for three fun filled days of marine debris and plastic pollution education and research. The camp was developed and facilitated by BPM founder and Director Kristal Ambrose and assisted by Cape Eleuthera Institute educational programs interns, Anna Williams and Andrenique McKinney, along with two Deep Creek Middle School students. Each day of the camp had a specific focus with day one geared towards plastic pollution education and awareness, day two; scientific research and day three; art and activism. Students covered a range of topics from the dawn of the plastic era, to its effect on the marine environment and on human health and concluded with solutions to the issue.

Students are engaged as they learn all about marine debris during Day 1 of camp.

Each participant was anxious to learn all there was to know about marine debris and plastic pollution and were all able to successfully demonstrate prior knowledge of the issue. During an activity entitled ‘Craft Your Campaign’, adapted from the Algalita Marine Research Institute, students were challenged to use alternative methods of communication to effectively raise awareness of the crucial topic. Their creative juices flowed as their respective groups worked together to produce a skit, dance, poem, news report or song. All content created by campers urged others to conserve our planet by eliminating pollution and reducing our single use plastic consumerist lifestyles.

As the camp progressed, students left the walls of the classroom and ventured onto the beach to conduct scientific marine debris assessments. Divided into teams of four, each group was responsible for executing a macro plastic survey where they collected, quantified and recorded large pieces of plastic debris.  Subsequent to this they were also responsible for conducting micro plastic debris surveys. This required them to monitor square areas within the wrackline of the beach to assess micro plastic concentrations. During the beach surveys, the carcass of what appeared to be a gull species was discovered. Students hypothesized that the bird potentially succumbed to injuries resulting from plastic ingestion. To test their theory we returned to our lab to perform a dissection. Gut content from the animal was analyzed but no plastic was found within the stomach.

Students prepare to dissect bird to assess stomach content for plastic

For the last day of camp, students learned how to become environmental activists using art. Under the instruction of 8th grade Deep Creek Middle School students Tyrin Culmer and Destinee Outten, students participated in two simultaneous art workshops. Campers learned how to upcycle plastic debris collected from beaches and produced beautiful jewelry and “trashion” fashion pieces. Each child learned the importance of evoking emotions through art and how to use their art as an awareness tool.  The camp culminated with a Plastic Pollution Education Expo and Trashion Show that the students coordinated. Using their new found knowledge, all campers assumed their new roles as “Junior Plastic Warriors” to educate their parents and staff of the Island School during the expo. They continued to astonish the audience as each student ripped the runway to display gowns, skirts, bags, hair accessories and jewelry they designed and created from beach plastic they collected. “I learned a lot about marine debris and the ocean. We made jewelry out of plastic. It was a lot of work but it was fun”, stated Santee Johnson, 5th grade student of Wemyss Bight Primary School.

Plastic Warriors pose with their certificates and camp leaders

Each student was awarded a certificate of completion and was challenged to take their skills into their community and classroom to educate others. The Bahamas Plastic Movement and The Island School plan to join forces again to produce an extended and more intensive program for summer 2015. “By engaging local youth into our program we produce young ambassadors who will continue to raise awareness of plastic pollution throughout The Bahamas”, states BPM founder Kristal Ambrose.

To learn more about our camp and the Bahamas Plastic Movement, visit our Facebook page to view photos and updates.