By Marli Klass
Conservation Camp Coordinator
Ebiil Society, Palau
I must say that I had one of the best experiences working with you this summer, it was beyond amazing! During the months of May, June, and July, I got to work with Ebiil Society, a non-governmental organization in my homeland of Palau. The organization was all about preservation and teaching of the Palauan culture which included everything from manners at home, society, customary practices, to everything that surrounds you on the land most especially the native environment. Ebiil Society’s main goal and objective was to educate the young about their roots as being Palauan’s, while also reminding the adults caught up in modern day ways of living, that they still have their own native culture that defines their ultimate identity, that being Palauan.
Every year for the past ten years, Ebiil Society has hosted summer camps that include several different phases during the summer. The different camps were categorized for different ages, and this summer consisted of three different camps. The first camp was the knowledge camp held in Nagrchelong, one of the provinces in Palau and was designated for kids aging from 8-14. The camp consisted of daily field trips that included snorkeling, hiking, going to the taro patch, going fishing, camping out at the nearby rock islands, to studying each and every ecosystem found around the land they were on. This camp lasted for one very long and fun week!
The second camp was the navigation camp that lasted for two weeks, anyone above the age of eighteen was welcome to join the camp. All of the participants of the navigation camp also resided in Ngarchelong, where they had to stay out for a whole week studying stars, tides, moon, winds, and ways to voyage on a traditional canoe with Sesario, son of the famous Mau Piailuk. Mau Piailuk is very famous in Hawaii as he had taught the Hawaiian’s how to navigate with knowledge of the natural universe such as the stars, winds, moon, and tides without any technology whatsoever. During the second week of the navigation camp, all the students set out for sail with their instructor Sesario on his very own traditional canoe called Maisui, which was passed down to him by his father. During the one week out at sail, the voyaging students sailed from the Northern most tip of Palau’s big island also known as Ngarchelong down towards south of Palau to one of the rock islands called Ngermeaus.
Finally for the last phase of the different camps that Ebiil Society hosted, the diving camp! This camp instead took place in Koror, the more urban like part of Palau. This camp’s purpose was to certify ten counselors of the knowledge camp for free with the assistance of Sam’s tours. Ten brave counselors commuted to Sam’s tours from home, every day for one week to complete their dive certification and licensing as this was a day camp. By the end of the week they all had completed ther training, all passed the test, and got licensed! They were very pleased and grateful for this opportunity given to them by Ebiil Society.
Oh, I forgot to mention, I had a major role in all of this, I was the camp coordinator! I helped my fellow colleagues and boss, Valentino Kloulechad, put all of these activities together and made sure that they happened. My role included setting dates for activities, calling the different local instructors and setting dates where they had to come in to teach, writing letters to different companies and individuals for donations, puuting up camp flyers and giving out consent forms as well as collecting them, all of the good stuff. While working with Ebiil Society, I also learned a lot about the land, the ocean, all the many ecosytems, and the importance of each and every one of them. I had so much fun, that I had completely forgot that I had a actual role and position with the society, I felt like a camper too, learning all the amazing things taught at camp! This is pretty much it, and again, MAHALO NUI LOA or SULANG, PISC, RCUH, and HELP, for giving me such a great opportunity!