Stretching those comfort zones . . .
As all educators and parents know, there exists a hidden curriculum in any learning environment. This is particularly true in Campanario’s case. Given the fact that Campanario is off-the-grid in most every way: no roads, no national system of electricity or water service, no mail delivery or trash pick-up, no internet service, no washing machines, TVs or air conditioners, etc. etc., living at Campanario is generally a life style change for most. We adapt to the environment rather than adapting the environment to suit us. Our goal is to have as small an ecological footprint as possible.
It’s important for all visitors to recognize their impact on this planet and work to minimize it. Everyone helps to monitor the use of the solar panels, the disposal of waste, the conservation of water, the conservation of food, etc. This requires using only the bare minimum of electricity, learning to get around by moonlight, not generating trash, composting anything organic, taking quick showers, washing clothes by hand and then hanging them up to dry in the breeze and sun, etc. etc. Meals are served buffet style so everyone can serve how much he/she would like and then can go back for a second or even a third helping. There is always plenty of food, and everyone must eat everything on his/her plate so that no food is wasted.
Much of the travel and activities are planned around the tides, while waking and sleeping follow the sun. Days start with sun-up, about 5:30am, and bedtime is generally early, about 8:30 or 9:00pm. Pleasures are simple and uncomplicated: fresh coconut milk when you're hot and tired, watching a morpho butterfly flit around you during breakfast, and games and story telling in the evenings. There are no TVs, no texting, no video games. The technological world is left behind.
Because the Campanario Biological Station is remote, located in a wild corner of the world, the wildlife is ever present. Many students face personal challenges to overcome their fears of bugs, bats, snakes, mud, the ocean, etc. Some marvelous transformations have take place.
Other activities which may be foreign to some students are strenuous exercise; getting hot and sweaty; eating foods different from those at home; monitoring their water intake; not worrying about stylish clothing, makeup, or jewelry; and, certainly, having to walk everywhere (no vehicles).
For many, this is one of the first times traveling without family members, and just getting organized and keeping belongings together is a new experience. There is no daily maid service, and students are expected to keep their things orderly, be on time for activities, and have all the proper equipment. While this may seem obvious and simple, for many it is not.
Any change of routine and habits is not taught as a special program, it is just the way life is at Campanario. Just living in Campanario becomes the hidden curriculum. We hope that some of these low-impact habits are transferred home.