Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Costa Rican Thanksgiving

Cross cultural exchange is one of the things we value here at Costa Rica Outward Bound: both learning about someone else's culture and sharing our traditions with others.

This week is Thanksgiving, and us gringos here on base are excitedly preparing a Thanksgiving dinner that we can share with our Tico friends. However, it's not always easy to find traditional Thanksgiving ingredients here, so we've been adapting our family recipes using more easily found, local ingredients.

Here's a traditional Thanksgiving favorite from one of our staff,  with a Tico twist:

Platano Casserole with Oatmeal Cookie Topping
The original recipe called for sweet potatoes, but platanos (plantains) are much cheaper and more abundant here in Costa Rica so they have been substituted for this Tico Thanksgiving!

7 large ripe Plantains (platanos maduros)
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup sweet orange marmalade
1 tablespoon finely grated peeled fresh ginger-root
2 teaspoons salt

For topping
Fourteen 3-inch crisp oatmeal cookies, broken into pieces (about 3 cups),
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
Preheat oven to 450°F. and butter a baking dish, 13 by 9 by 2 inches. Prick potatoes and bake on a foil-lined baking sheet in middle of oven until very soft, about 1 1/2 hours. Scoop flesh into a large bowl and mash with butter, sugar, juice, marmalade, ginger-root, and salt. Spread potato mixture evenly in baking dish. Potato mixture may be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered. Bring potato mixture to room temperature before proceeding.

Make topping:
In a food processor grind cookies fine. Add butter and pulse motor until mixture resembles soft cookie dough. Wrap topping in wax paper and chill until firm, about 2 hours. Topping may be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered.
Preheat oven to 400°F. Crumble topping over potato mixture and bake in middle of oven until topping is browned lightly, about 25 minutes

Thursday, November 18, 2010

How to Treat a Burn Outdoors

Costa Rica Outward Bound Fall 2010 Leadership students act out burn victim scenarios during their Wilderness First Responder training.

Burns are a common injury for outdoor aficionados. Between sun exposure, cooking accidents and campfire burns, knowing how to treat a burn can be invaluable if you plan on spending time outside.

Here are a few simple tips for treating minor burns:

1. Make sure area is safe: Remove the victim from harm's way and make sure that they are away from the burn source. In the case of a sunburn, try to get them out of the sun if possible. 

2. Cool the burn with cool running water: Do this for several minutes. Even if the skin looks fine, it could still blister later, so keep it cool. Try to use potable water, as salt water may dry out the skin.

3. Relieve the Pain: Over the counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can be used to help relieve pain, but make sure the victim is not allergic and has eaten prior to giving them medication. 

4. Make sure the victim is hydrated: Burns often cause dehydration and dizziness, so be sure to give the victim water if they are able to drink it. A great natural hydration source if you're in a tropical climate such as Costa Rica is young coconut water, or as it's called in Costa Rica, agua de pipa. 

 Check out this video to learn how to open a young coconut:
Demonstration of How to Open a Young Coconut (Pipa)

Agua de pipa is full of electrolytes, potassium and other minerals such as calcium and magnesium which are great for helping to rehydrate the body and control vomiting, which may be a symptom of burn victims. Additionally, the meat from the inside of the coconut can be used as a salve on the skin to help soothe the pain from minor burns.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Expeditionary Learning: The Outward Bound Philosophy

Ten Expeditionary Learning Principles
Outward Bound was founded by Kurt Hahn, Hahn's educational philosophy was based on respect for adolescents, whom he believed to possess an innate decency and moral sense, but who were, he believed, corrupted by society as they aged. He believed that education could prevent this corruption, if students were given opportunities for personal leadership and to see the results of their own actions. He developed these 10 principles of expeditionary learning, from which the Outward Bound philosophy was born.

1. The primacy of self-discovery
Learning happens best with emotion, challenge and the requisite support. People discover their abilities, values, passions, and responsibilities in situations that offer adventure and the unexpected. In Expeditionary Learning schools, students undertake tasks that require perseverance, fitness, craftsmanship, imagination, self-discipline, and significant achievement. A teacher’s primary task is to help students overcome their fears and discover they can do more than they think they can.
2. The having of wonderful ideas
Teaching in Expeditionary Learning schools fosters curiosity about the world by creating learning situations that provide something important to think about, time to experiment, and time to make sense of what is observed.
3. The responsibility for learning
Learning is both a personal process of discovery and a social activity. Everyone learns both individually and as part of a group. Every aspect of an Expeditionary Learning school encourages both children and adults to become increasingly responsible for directing their own personal and collective learning.
4. Empathy and caring
Learning is fostered best in communities where students’ and teachers’ ideas are respected and where there is mutual trust. Learning groups are small in Expeditionary Learning schools, with a caring adult looking after the progress and acting as an advocate for each child. Older students mentor younger ones, and students feel physically and emotionally safe.
5. Success and failure
All students need to be successful if they are to build the confidence and capacity to take risks and meet increasingly difficult challenges. But it is also important for students to learn from their failures, to persevere when things are hard, and to learn to turn disabilities into opportunities.
6. Collaboration and competition
Individual development and group development are integrated so that the value of friendship, trust, and group action is clear. Students are encouraged to compete not against each other but with their own personal best and with rigorous standards of excellence.
7. Diversity and inclusion
Both diversity inclusion increase the richness of ideas, creative power, problem-solving ability, respect for others. In Expeditionary Learning schools, students investigate value their different histories talents as well as those of other communities cultures. Schools learning groups heterogeneous.
8. The natural world
direct respectful relationship with the natural world refreshes the human spirit teaches the important ideas of recurring cycles and cause and effect. Students learn to become stewards of the earth and of future generations.
9. Solitude and reflection
Students and teachers need time alone to explore their own thoughts, make their own connections, and create their own ideas. They also need time to exchange their reflections with others

10. Service and compassion
We are crew, not passengers. Students and teachers are strengthened by acts of consequential service to others, and one of an Expeditionary Learning school’s primary functions is to prepare students with the attitudes and skills to learn from and be of service to others.

Source (Wikipedia)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Wilderness First Responder Training

Executive Director Jim Rowe and Instructor Phil Perez Teach CPR

Our Fall 2010 Leadership students have been here on base at Tres RĂ­os taking their Wilderness First Responder Training. Wilderness First Responders are individuals who are trained to respond to emergency situations in remote wilderness settings. 

Wilderness First Responder training is an 80-hour course covering topics including basic life support, responding to trauma cases, management of bone or joint related injuries (such as sprains, fractures or breaks), treatment of infectious diseases as well as transport and/or evacuation planning in injury situations. 

The first Wilderness First Responder course was taught by Stonehearth Open Learning Opportunities (SOLO) in 1984. SOLO was started in New Hampshire in the 1970's to training skiers, climbers and EMT's in in the White Mountains how to provide emergency care for injured parties in remote locations during what is today referred to as "the Golden Hour". Throughout the next decade SOLO developed and taught Wilderness First Aid courses and Wilderness EMT Programs for organizations such as Outward Bound. In 1984 they collaborated with a new organization called Wilderness Medical Associates to create the Wilderness First Responder program, and offered the first course at an Outward Bound site.

Today, Wilderness First Responder training is offered by many organizations, from the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), to the American Red Cross, to our very own Costa Rica Outward Bound Leadership Semester course. 

The Leadership Semester course provides training for students to become certified Wilderness First Responders, so that they can work as professionals in the outdoor industry. All Costa Rica Outward Bound Instructors are certified Wilderness First Responders (WFR), or as it is often referred to, Woofers.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Getting A Passport

Before you can travel internationally, you need to have a valid passport. There is no minimum age for getting a passport in the U.S., but everyone who travels internationally is required to have one.

Getting a passport in the U.S. is a little complicated and can be time consuming, but there are ways to expedite the process. As one of our Costa Rica Outward Bound staff recently found out, it is actually possible to get a passport same day. Here's How:

1. Make an appointment at a regional passport agency by calling 1-877-487-2778. Regional Passport agencies are present in most major cities across the country, however you will have to be able to physically appear at one if you wish to get your passport completed the same day. You must be have scheduled international travel within two weeks of the appointment, or you must need a visa within 4 weeks to be able to get an appointment at a regional agency (See Proof of Travel below for more information on this). New or replacement passport applications are only accepted in the morning, so try to get an appointment before 10am or you will not be able to get your passport the same day. If there is no appointment available through the automated system, it is worth asking to be transferred to the specific regional office which you wish to visit, as they may be able to squeeze you in even if the automated system says there are no appointments. 
2. Get together your Documents. You have to have everything ready before you get to the passport office. This will not only facilitate the process once you get there, but it will also ensure that you will not have to come back another day. Here are the things you will need:

  • A completed DS-11 form from the State Department website. This form is only for new or replacement passports, if you are renewing your passport you do not need this form.
  •  If you are replacing a lost or stolen passport, you will also need a DS-64 form, reporting your lost or stolen passport
  • Two passport photos - you can get these done at any drug store for about $10
  • Proof of citizenship. Most commonly, this is a birth certificate. You can also submit a previously issued, undamaged passport, a Consular Report of Birth Abroad or Certification of Birth (for citizens born abroad), a Naturalization Certificate or a Certificate of Citizenship. If you cannot get any of those documents, you can try to get a Secondary Proof of Citizenship, or you can do a File Search (not recommended as it costs an extra $150).
  • Identification Card. A valid Driver's License, Military or Government ID or a previously issued, undamaged passport will be fine for this portion.
  • Proof of Travel. This is the most important part for getting your passport expedited, for two reasons. (A) You cannot make an appointment at a regional passport agency unless you have scheduled travel within two weeks. (B) The passport agencies try to work around your travel schedule, which means the only way to get a passport the same day is if you have to travel the following day. This is risky, since getting your passport the same day is never a guarantee, so if something ends up not working out you might miss your travel. What many passport-expediting companies do is print out a fake travel itinerary for the clients stating that they must travel the day following their appointment. This carries moral dilemmas for some, so it is up to each individual what they chose to do. However, if you are traveling for business, it is also acceptable to submit an official letter from your employer (on letterhead, with contact information) stating your name, title, date of and reason for business travel. Such letters will be accepted in lieu of a confirmed itinerary at the passport agent's discretion. 
  • Payment. Getting an expedited passport costs an extra $60 on top of the normal passport fees. These fees are payable by major credit card, debit/check card, personal or certified check payable to the "Department of State," money order or bank draft, also payable to the "Department of State."

3. Be on time! In fact, being early is better, as they will often start letting people in up to a half an hour before their appointment, however they do not have to let you in if you are more than a half an hour late. If you are approved for a same-day passport, your passport will typically be ready between 1pm and 3pm that day, so if all goes well you could even begin traveling that night!