Give & Surf is a locally embedded 501(c)(3) non-profit organization of volunteers providing sustainable empowerment to indigenous communities in Bocas del Toro, Panama, through education and community development. We have established, assisted, and enhanced a number of projects and initiatives here in Bocas del Toro. Depending on the season, our volunteer days can consist of our preschool, summer school, after-school camp, adult and high school English classes, and baseball practice. This is all done in collaboration with our good friends at La Loma Jungle Lodge.
Our volunteer lives are pulled in a number of directions and our focuses change throughout the year as some of our projects have a start/finish and others are seasonal. Below is a list of the volunteer projects we have developed. You can expect to be part of many of these initiatives when joining us. Also visit our Facebook Page for more pictures and check our blog posts under the giving category to learn about our most recent projects.
- Panama does not provide public preschool education in many remote areas of the country in spite of a universal acceptance that early childhood education is a critical component to a child’s development. For this reason we chose to open our doors to the preschool aged children of Bahia Honda in September 2011. This was accomplished in collaboration with our partners and friends from La Loma Jungle Lodge. We are incredibly proud and excited to have fifteen boys and girls coming via a preschool bus to enjoy their first days of school with us. In September of 2013 we adopted a Montessori curriculum focused on empowering our students to be independent through interacting with their environments and stimulating their senses. Our days consist of implementing this curriculum, reading, arts and crafts, trips to the playground, and special field trips. This is an amazing opportunity to provide the first generation of future all-stars an awesome and enriching experience. It is also great to practice and learn Spanish as they are very forgiving individuals with huge hearts and smiles.If you plan on volunteering in 2014 you can expect to volunteer with our preschool three days a week as well as with the elementary school right next door. We will need a lot of help with classroom setup, curriculum development, and teaching.
After-school Program 1st-6th Grade
- The after-school program focuses on providing the elementary school aged children with a enriching and engaging environment to participate in new activities, learn English, further develop their understanding of the world, and have fun. This program was initiated as a supplement to the public education provided. We also give the children of Bahia Honda the chance to go on field trips outside the local community. Through our program we hope to provide the educational support needed to reverse the unfortunate trends seen in public education around the archipelago. Come have a blast enjoying lessons, sports, music, movies, games, and more with our students and other volunteers.
Summer School 1st-6th Grade
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- Summer vacation for students is during the months of December through the end of February. To supplement the public education, Give and Surf has summer school classes to provide engaging activities and new experiences to further develop our student’s understanding of the world. During this time we develop a schedule focused on different themes that combine the environment, experiential learning, and self-expression. The summer schedule combines multiple 2-5 week courses with one centralized theme. Volunteers develop lesson plans that are intended to be engaging and cultivate the students’ creativity. If you’re volunteering while summer school is in session, you can look forward to building lesson plans and curricula for the summer school courses.
Adult English Class
- [nggallery id=3]We provide the dedicated adults of Bahia Honda with the opportunity to learn english twice a week. Learning english is tremendously important for the adults to progress and have employment opportunities. We are very happy to provide our dedicated 10 with English classes and would appreciate the help of any English or ESL teachers.
High School English Classes
In addition to adult English classes, we have also began provided English classes to the teenagers of Bahia Honda during the summer months. These classes are held twice a week and are growing in popularity amongst the community. Because Bocas del Toro is has a large influx of English-speaking tourists year-round, English is a language that is of great value for our students to learn. By providing them with working knowledge of English, their education will progress and employment opportunities broaden.
Community Development Projects
We had the pleasure of building a playground for the children of Bahia Honda Elementary School on Bastimentos Island while kids were enjoying their school break. Our first playground project was a great time and we expect to knock out a few more construction projects for the kids. In the search box type “Playground” to learn more about this project.
FINISHED PRODUCT[nggallery id=5]
Bahia Roja’s New Elementary School[nggallery id=55]
In June of 2013 we finished up a monster of a project: a new school for Bahia Roja. It was fundraised by a group of high schoolers from Gill St. Bernards who volunteered with us and it took a month to complete. These awesome kids and our family of supporters raised over $10,000 to provide a proper school for the deserving children of this community. They were previously taught in a collapsed school building so this upgrade is a huge addition to education in this indigenous community. In just a month we completed the school. Big ups to Daniel, Eddie, all the volunteers, and the community of Bahia Roja for all your hard work! We are incredibly grateful for the support of this project and look forward to future structural improvements to the education facilities in the area. Take a look at the old and new pics of the school.
In 2013 we opened a library for the Bahia Honda community. The building not only is a center for the community to absorb information like sponges, but also acts as a classroom for the education programs. The project took us two months and there are so many to thank for making this idea reality. Thank you to all those who made this possible especially Students Without Borders, La Loma Jungle Lodge, the Nadel Family, Mucho Ado, Michigan State ASB, One Library at a Time, and all those who volunteered with us for the last few months. We are thrilled to bring this awesome library to the community.
Bahia Roja Cafeteria
It didn’t take long for us to tackle this first project in Bahia Roja thanks to the collaborative efforts of Palmar Tent Lodge and Give & Surf. A wildly fun and successful fundraiser propelled us to build a school cafeteria for our neighbors. With so many wonderful people getting involved with this project we were able to put up the structure over night.
Bahia Roja Community Dock
In 2014 Students Without Borders Academy contributed in a big way by raising over $3,000 to replace a beyond reparable dock with a beautiful new one! With the funds ready to go the community members volunteered their time and within two weeks we had a new dock thanks to dozens of parents lending a hand.
Beach Clean-ups[nggallery id=6]
Our love for the ocean and passion for surfing makes keeping the environment clean especially important to us. Much of our time is spent in and around the many beaches of Bocas del Toro so we do our best to rally the locals to share in beach cleanups. Through leading by example and educating the children on the importance of keeping our earth clean we have noticed a beautiful change. We hosted the first annual Old Bank Clean-up party when our good friends from Matuse were in town and it turned out to be a huge success.
Water Tank Installations[nggallery id=7]
Bocas del Toro is blessed to receive consistent rainfall and we as volunteers take advantage of this rainfall by installing water catchment systems that provide clean drinking water for schools and local communities. This simple installation provides large communities and schools with a source of sustainable, clean drinking water. Being that we live on an island archipelago without any other source of clean drinking water besides purchasing bottled water, these installation tanks are essential in preventing diseases among the Ngobe communities because they get their drinking water from dirty streams like the ones pictured below. We have installed many tanks in the area and there is a great need for more in the future.