Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Students have left Belize!

Hello parents! We wanted to let you know that the group has left Belize. The group is scheduled to land at 7:14PM in Dallas. The flight (AA 324) from Dallas to Nashville is currently on time and the group is scheduled to land at 11:20PM. We will update the blog when we speak with Keith Crowe on the layover. Please call the office with any questions - 303.679.3412.

Erin Lasky
Program Director

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day from Belize!

Have a great day, dads!

Your kids

Friday, June 17, 2011

Global Issues Training

Tonight, the kids are settled around tables working on an activity called "Utopia." They have been asked to prioritize approximately 20 goals established by the United Nations that address many of the problems that plague underdeveloped countries. Issues involve poverty and hunger, child mortality, maternal health, etc. We hope to use this activity and their youthful world-view as a jumping-off point for continued discussions back home about obstacles faced in meeting these difficult challenges.

UPDATE: We are in the middle of the most unbelievable rain. It is so loud on the tin roof in the dining room that we've had to break up and just go run around in the torrential downpour.

The kids are having a great time! Lots of smiles.

- Keith

Work Days 2 and 3

by MM, HS, CB

On work days 2 and 3 we spent time working at St. Matthew's government school once again. We painted the bathrooms, windows, doors, and the numbers above the doors various shades of green. We also finished installing the slide and enjoyed watching the kids' excitement as they slid down it. In addition to painting and building, we finished installing the bike rack. When the kids were on break, we played with them. For lunch, we ate at a local restaurant down the road from the school. At the end of the day, we stopped and bought Cokes at a roadside market. It felt very good to accomplish the work and make the kids'school a better place.

The Belize Zoo

by AGN, EC, EM

On Wednesday night, we took a special after hours trip to the Belize Zoo where we got to observe the nocturnal animals. The zoo is very important to Belize and they are really proud of it. The zookeeper, George, and Juan taught us about the history of The Belize Zoo and then we started our tour of the animals. Our group saw many interesting nocturnal animals that we'd been learning about, including the tapir, kinkajou, coati, howler monkey and the jaguar. George even gave us some food to feed the animals. We were surprised by the howler monkey's loud noise coming from such a small animal. One of the last animals we saw was the jaguar. It did some tricks for us in it's cage. We learned that the jaguar is an endangered animal and it is very important to the country of Belize. At the end of our trip, some of our group got to hold a boa constrictor. Seeing the nocturnal animals was a once in a lifetime experience and we learned a lot.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


While in Belize we have experienced a variety of foods we have never tried before along with some long-time favorites.  At Pine Ridge lodge, the wonderful Belizean cooks made split-pea soup that was delicious on rice.  For breakfast, we had fry jacks, eggs and refried black beans.  That is where Ben first encouraged us to try his Belizean hot sauce, which was really, really, really hot!  On our way to Monkey Bay, we ate at Benny's cafe in San Ignacio.  Benny's had great food ranging from fried chicken to gibnut.  A lot of our meals have included chicken and rice, which is traditional Belizean food.  We have eaten a lot of fruit including mame apple, pineapple, watermelon and bananas.  We even tried a bite of cashew apple, which had a very strange, sweet taste that made your mouth dry.  We learned that cashews must be roasted or their coating is toxic.  The children at St. Matthews drink water and fruit juice in plastics bags.  They call these "ideals."  There are two places where they can buy snacks and lunch on either side of the school.  We ate lunch at the neighboring restaurant and had delicious meals that included escabeche, rice and beans and baked chicken served with corn tortillas.  The sodas here have REAL sugar in them instead of corn syrup and they taste amazing.  (Sugar cane is a major crop in Belize.)  We also have had watermelon, pineapple and soursap juice with meals.  We have discovered that Belizean food is often different, but always delicious.

by EC, MM, MW

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

At Work - Day One

Yesterday was the first day of work at St. Matthews Government School. We arrived at 8:30 and played with the kids until 9 when they had school. Then we divided up into two groups. One group sandpapered the swing set while the other leveled the ground and painted the bike rack. At 10:30 it was the kids' first recess so we stopped work to get to know them. We played with the soccer ball and they showed us how to play marbles and tasos.  When recess was over,  the two groups switched jobs. Some of the teachers painted and others worked with our Belizean friends, Juan and Jose, building a slide.  At 12:30 we had lunch at a restaurant right by the school where some kids can buy breakfast and lunch. The students followed us to the restaurant and talked to us while we ate lunch. After a brief rest we sang to a class of 7 year olds and they taught us a song in English and Spanish.  At 2:30 we started painting the shutters to match the walls. At 3:30, when school ended, we played a game of soccer with about 50 Belizean kids. After the exciting game we headed back to Monkey Bay.

by WL, AGN, CB

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Greetings from Monkey Bay!

Dear Parents,

We just got back to Monkey Bay this afternoon, and promise to provide regular blogging once we settle in a bit. The trip is going very well so far, and the kids are learning much about themselves as leaders and the culture of Belize. The kids are working on blogs to catch you up on our adventures, but until they have a chance to finish them up, I thought a picture of their smiling faces could hold you over.

All is well. Check back tomorrow night for our first student blog posts.


Keith, Michelle, Ellen, and John


On Tuesday when we were traveling back to Monkey Bay, we stopped to visit the Xunatunich Ruins. The Xunantunich is one of the ancient royal Mayan cities that is now in ruins. We had a wonderful guide of Mayan decent; his name was Mr. Elfigo. To get to the ruins, we had to take a ferry across the river and hike up a long hill. Next, we stopped and Mr. Crowe bought us sodas. Then, we hiked up to the visitor center where Mr. Elfigo told us all about the Mayan lifestyle. We visited the 3 parts of the ruins and climbed up 40 yards up the Castillo. It was an amazing view of Guatemala and Belize. It was a really exciting experience to just sit on the top and look across the view. After we left the ruins, we had a very good lunch at Benny's. Benny's had a variety of food from all over the world. Benny's also had fresh juices like watermelon and pineapple. Lastly we headed for Monkey Bay.


Day Three Update

Hello Parents!
 I just got off the phone with our instructor in Belize, Ben Gillock. The students have left Pine Ridge and have an eventful day planned including a visit to some Mayan ruins. Ben said that they are all having a great time and everyone is enjoying the trip! They will be updating the blog tonight and tomorrow from Monkey Bay, so check in later for some live updates. Call the office with any questions (303)679-3412.

Program Coordinator

Monday, June 13, 2011

Leadership Training at Pine Ridge

Five Sisters Falls

On Day 2, we took a trip to a resort near Pine Ridge Lodge. At the resort, we hiked down to a group of waterfalls called the Five Sisters. The name Five Sisters comes from the fact that there are five small waterfalls clustered together.   It was so nice. Around the water, there were hammocks and small huts to rest in. We swam in the small pools under the falls and Juan gave us permission to start climbing the waterfalls. After we all climbed up, some of us "chilled" at the top. It was a little hard to get up because the current was so strong. But after seeing Miss Little take a leap of faith into the water, we all wanted to join in the fun. Our group jumped off the falls one by one. We could also swim in two separate pools of water (a lower and an upper). It was really cool to sit under the waterfall and see the water rush over our heads while we could still breathe. We all enjoyed our refreshing swim after hiking that day. It was an amazing experience.

- agn and ec

Swimming at Big Rock Falls

Our new friend Juan guided us on an adventurous hike to Big Rock Falls.  Before we left it started pouring down rain, so we put on our rain jackets and hiked a couple of miles along the trail to Pravission Creek in the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Preserve.  We stopped along the trail and Juan showed us lichen, leaf cutter ants, and many other native plants and animals. At the end of the trail was a long, steep hill down to the river.  We walked carefully across very slippery rocks and jumped  in the swimming hole. The water was refreshing, but not too cold. At first Juan wouldn't let us go to the upper pool of water with the big water fall.  But then he decided that it was safe enough so we went. We swam and got under the waterfall which felt great falling on our heads and backs. It stopped raining while we were swimming which made it warm and steamy. Then we hiked back to Pine Ridge Lodge to dry off, eat and do some leadership activities.

by EM, SHM, HS

Update from the field

Hello Parents! The students all arrived safely in Belize yesterday. Last night they arrived in pine ridge where they had dinner and orientation and relaxed before their hike today to a waterfall!  Before returning to Monkey Bay tomorrow, the students will be visiting some mayan ruins, having lunch, and playing a soccer game with some local children! There is no internet at pine ridge, but they will have access once they return to Monkey Bay tomorrow at 5, so check back for some live updates. Call the office if you have any questions (303)679-3412.

Program Coordinator

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Welcome to the Ensworth Belize Blog!

Hi there - my name is Ben Gillock and I am the World Leadership School instructor for Ensworth's 2011 Belize trip.

I am currently sitting in the library of the Monkey Bay Wildlife Refuge, listening to the chirping of geckos. Tomorrow a group of 12 Ensworth students will leave their homes in Tennessee and launch themselves on an adventure of service, learning and leadership. Over the next 10 days they will have lots of fun exploring the incredible ecosystems and cultures of Belize. They will also confront many significant challenges - from dealing with the personal discomfort of being in a foreign land, to grappling with complex global issues like climate change and poverty.

We will spend much of our time at this amazing preserve, exploring the Sibun river and working on service projects in the neighboring community of St. Matthew's. We will also have a chance to visit the western highlands of Mountain Pine Ridge, as well as the beautiful beaches and reefs of Tobacco Caye. Throughout, students will be engaged in a curriculum designed to build their leadership skills while familiarizing them with the global issues where their leadership is most desperately needed.

This blog will be a place where we can share this experience with family and friends. Students will be doing most of the blogging here, but their teachers and I may chime in from time to time. When we are without access to the internet, WLS staff in Denver will provide updates on our doings.

Please sign up to follow our posts - our goal is for this experience to be just the beginning of an ongoing conversation that continues back at home.

I am eager to meet this group of adventurous students tomorrow, and I look forward to sharing this adventure with you.

From Monkey Bay,
Ben G.