River Clean Up and Adopt a Tree Team Building Program


Arenal Rafting River Clean Up and Adopt a Tree Team Building Program

by Christine Larson-Krishnan, Community Builder

High school students from the Valle Azul (Blue Valley) Costa Rican public school went rafting on the Río Balsa for a Costa Rica rafting trip near the Arenal Volcano with Desafio Adventure Company.

But it wasn't just an ordinary Costa Rica rafting trip. Beatriz Mata of our Human Resources Department put together an exclusive Costa Rica team building event we call our "Adopt a Tree" program for this select group of Costa Rican high schoolers to appreciate their local environment near the Balsa River.

"It's one thing to talk about 'Saving the Earth' and another thing is getting down and dirty to do something about it," said Grettel Chavez, one of the Valle Azul high school students who is studying Sustainable Tourism at her high school and helped organize the Costa Rica rafting excursion for her class.

The Valle Azul high schoolers set out to do their Costa Rica team building activity from the brand new Desafio Río Balsa Operations Center geared up with their lifejackets, helmets and paddles.

They first passed by the Trapiche station, an old-style sugar-mill to get a dose of what we call our "Desafio Jungle Juice" to truly get ready for their Costa Rica rafting trip.

We are growing our own natural sugar cane at our Río Balsa Operations Center and can now produce pure sugar cane juice for our clients so they can understand the process of extracting sugar. Many people don't understand where sugar comes from and that the natural form of sugar is actually filled with beneficial vitamins and minerals and is a great energy boost to start off an adrenaline-filled rafting excursion.

Once the high schoolers sipped their sugar drink, they received a full safety talk from their rafting guides. The rafting guides discussed how to paddle as a unified paddle team and what to do in case they fell out of the raft. the Río Balsa is a pool-drop river that has eddies or calm spots between each set of rapids, so if a person falls out, he or she can be rescued in an eddy. From their, they took their time to get in their rafts, head to the water and start practice paddling strokes.

"Our guide Marcos yelled 'high-side right' while we were on the river and I didn't understand how important it was to move to the right and paddle hard like he told us until it looked like we could have tipped over the raft," Grettel said.

"But Marcos knew what he was doing and he took good care of us. We all had an amazing time!" Marcos instructed the group to paddle hard and follow Desafio's two company rules: 1) Be Safe and 2) Have Serious Fun!

Once the Río Balsa calmed down about half way, the group of environmentally-concerned youth jumped out of their rafts and collected a few empty plastic bottles that washed up on shore and found a designated area to plant some trees.

The trees, including Costa Rican hardwoods like cedar, as well as a species of wild almond were donated by the National University of Costa Rica and the Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE) who control the release of water at the hydro-electric dam on the Río Balsa.

The group we instructed to plant the trees in specific areas along the river's edge to help in the prevention of erosion of important areas of this biological corridor that connects the Arenal Volcano National Park area with the Children's Eternal Rainforest.

The upper section of the Río Balsa is now a protected reserve administered by the hydro-electric dam to assure that adequate rainfall is preserved in this fragile water reservoir.

The Valle Azul students did their part for conservation in Costa Rica and saving the Earth and we are happy to have them as part of the Desafio Adopt a Tree program.

Client comments from the Balsa River rafting in Costa Rica experience:

Good morning on behalf of the entire group of Ecotourism students from Valle Azul -

As we mentioned Monday in class, we received the best care and attention from Desafío Adventure Company. We felt like VIP clients. My students and I as a teacher really do not have words to thank Desafio Adventure Company and all the guides of your company for their high degree of professionalism.

We hope you will continue to take our high school into account for future Costa Rica team building activities.

Thank you for everything and it is a pleasure for us to have relations with your Costa Rica rafting company.

Warm regards,

Valle Azul School Administrator

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