In Uttaradit Province, waste management is the greatest environmental issue in the minds of public health officials. Few communities have access to the municipal waste management, communities are disconnected from recycling facilities, and there is a heavy reliance on single use plastics permeates the culture. Thailand’s Natural Resources and Environment Ministry has created an ambitious waste management plan that includes eliminating 4 types of single-use plastic by 2022. This Environmental Leadership Camp 2020 provides students a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in nature, take ownership in preserving it, and develop the leadership skills necessary to be at the forefront of these government-initiated changes in their own communities. The Environmental Leadership Camp 2020 will be held January 17-19, 2020 at a nature retreat center in Uttaradit Province, Thailand. The three-day camp will serve 40 middle-school aged youth leaders from three different communities around north central Thailand. The camp will be largely run by the local Youth Council and Environmental Leadership clubs, which have predominantly female memberships, and exclusively female leaders and advisors. This camp provides leadership and learning opportunities for women to expand their capacity as leaders when addressing waste, climate change, and other issues important to them. The camp will equip students with experience, knowledge, and skills in two key areas, environment and leadership. Students will develop an appreciation for nature, practice zero-waste living, and learn waste management strategies. Students will also study and grow in the 8 dimensions of leadership and gain skills in project design and management.
The local communities four youth groups are the driving force behind this project, with strong support from the SAO. The volunteer, a mentor for the environmental leadership clubs, and the youth council president and SAO Social Welfare Department employee, are working closely to plan and organize the camp. The two are the primary visionaries, curriculum builders, and budget planners, with input from other members of the clubs. The SAO, youth council president, and the volunteer have selected a camp location, which includes lodging and meals. They will also design the camp schedule and sessions. Other members of the Social Welfare Department (which oversees the Youth Council) will assist in purchasing materials, organizing transport, and providing support at the camp. Members of the Public Health department will provide guest speakers and technical support in curriculum design. Club advisors (predominantly school teachers) will assist in camp attendee selection, address student insurance, and assist with sessions at the camp. Financially, the SAO plans to support this project with a total of $ 2,424.55 in-kind donations. This is through the labor of SAO employees for the purposes of planning, preparing, and assisting at the camp, as well as a majority of the transportation costs incurred by preparing for the camp, and sending people to and from camp. Student environmental leadership clubs are also excited about this project and its ability to help them reach their goals. One club has “Put on a Recycle Camp” written in as one of their club rules - The Environmental Leadership Camp 2020 will train and equip them with leadership skills and program design and management planning. Some students in these clubs have also applied to be trainers at the camp. These students will go through additional leadership training, test-run camp sessions, and serve as facilitators during the actual camp. This group of students will have a role in deciding which sessions they like best and want to run at the camp, as well as how the sessions are run.
After the Environmental Leadership Camp 2020, initiatives will be sustained through active weekly and monthly meetings of environmental clubs and the Youth Council. Each organization will be advised to utilize and continue to build upon leadership skills built at the camp by implementing environmental projects at home. A camp Facebook group page will be made where groups can collaborate, share ideas, share successes, and cheer each other on. These student leaders will take the information on environmental sustainability and collaborative leadership and apply it to all settings of their lives.