Setting up the seasonal RED camp is a somewhat grueling but special moment in the RED household. It’s when we get to implement changes we dreamed up over summer, recruit new staff, and this year, pick an entirely new site. This last piece adds to the anticipation and excitement. What will find there and what will the nature experience be? Who are the fishermen we will eventually recruit to the turtle participate in the monitoring project? As we dove into setting up the camp, the answers to these questions unfolded one by one, and now that the first group – a school from Northern California – has departed, we can say that this is the best RED camp ever.
Pulling up with the trucks and trailer to the launch point, a group of fishermen were taking a break in the shade of a pino salado. Luis had negotiated with them transport for the short hop to and from camp, just a 5 minute panga ride. When one of them asked if we could share a turtle or two with them for their dinner, we knew we had found some future participants. Hopefully, soon enough, Chuy from Grupo Tortuguero will be recruiting these guys into the turtle monitoring project, in the course changing lives and expanding the conservation network.
We roped Ixchel into the affair of setting up the camp, our latest hire into RED’s nonprofit arm, so that she could see how RED’s tour operator side contributes to fomenting conservation and socioeconomic development in the region. As the ex-Subdelegada de Semarnat for Baja California Sur – the second highest position in SEMARNAT – the state’s environmental agency, we also figured she’d have some pretty good opinions as to minimizing our environmental impact.
The camp is unlike any other we have had. Nestled into the dunes, looking out over a protected estuary, the camp sits on a narrow spit that divides BahÃa Almejas and BahÃa Magdalena, reachable by a short trek through the dunes. One side of the camp is bordered by the mangroves, boasting three species, red, black and white. As I watched the sun go down, a group of dolphins rolling about in the shallow water along the beach in front of camp, and three coyotes playing with each other on the far shore, I knew that we had picked the right spot. The smiles on the faces of the teachers and school kids arriving from camp last night tell me I’m probably right. We can’t wait to see you there.