My name is Toby and I am 15.
This trip was honestly the best thing that I’ve ever experienced. Watching Nat Geo Wild when I was younger made me passionate about animals and kind of gave me a dream to one-day work and try to protect them. Once this trip was mentioned I was a little hesitant and so were my parents but I mustered up the courage and determination to decide to go on this amazing trip, and I am so glad I did. I already knew quite a bit about Greece and its culture, not to mention that my name Elias is a Greek translation of the name ‘Elijah’. But having the chance to learn more things that I never knew before like the origin of the word ‘athlete’ and the history of the Gods really made me excited and filled me with a new sense of knowledge.
The chance to make new friends and connections made me happy too. It was fun interacting with students that I have seen around school, and some I have never seen before. I was able to forge new friendships and relationships that I didn’t think was possible, some even lasting to this day. It was a great chance for me to come out of my shell and develop my communication skills and I am very grateful that going to Greece helped me do that. I’m also grateful that I was taught tracking skills. They’ll be very helpful if I ever get lost!
The experiences I had were absolutely amazing. Having the chance to see turtles in a sanctuary, having the chance to contribute to their survival by clearing the beaches and relocating nests, studying their tracks to see how they came up the beach and using that to monitor their behaviour, also the rare chance to see one in the sea, it was all just so wonderful. I enjoyed every part of the trip, camping under the stars was an experience that I don’t ever want to forget and the hiking up the mountain; it was a bit much for some but for me I relished every moment. Going all the way up, dipping my legs into the icy, cold waterfall to just walk/run all the way back down, I am truly glad that I accomplished something like that.
I guess the thing I felt uncomfortable doing was swimming. I had forgotten my training from previous years and I felt left behind by my peers who already knew how to swim. I may be like a cheetah on land but once I entered the water, I felt like I was surrounded by dolphins and sharks, where one of my friends was so talented at swimming, he was literally trying to be like one when he was trying to catch others. But thanks to the determination and perseverance of my friends as well as my own, they managed to teach me and by the final day I managed to swim as good as everyone else.
This trip had filled me with a new sense of purpose as I now know that even the littlest piece of rubbish could still harm the giant, majestic turtles, as well as other animals. I have managed to cut down on my use of non-biodegradable products such as plastic wrappers or tin cans to try and further contribute to a greater cause. Flooglebinder has really helped me and have inspired me to one day experience the thrill of exploration, conservation and to help protect endangered animals and their habitats. I truly thank them for giving me such an unforgettable experience. I’m absolutely positive that given the chance, more people would love to do these types of things and they would love to work alongside such an amazing company.
In a three part Flooglebinder series, we will share with you the story of three teens among a group of twenty-four students who travelled to Greece for 8 days to work with the Sea Turtle Protection Society.
Toby is quite shy but he comes out of his shell when surrounded by his close friends. He loves sports and has a passion for the outdoors and ecology. He studies at Eastbury Community School in Barking and Dagenham is a borough with the highest unemployment rates and one of the lowest household incomes of any London borough and it took two years for the students to save up for the experience to join the conservation project.
The Sea Turtle Rescue Centre was set up in 1994 with the Municipality of Glyfada and the financial support of the Environmental Ministry. The tasks of the STRC are to rehabilitate injured and sick sea turtles and to raise public awareness. The most common injuries for which turtles are being treated are: amputations due to fishing gear entanglement, ingestion of hooks and other materials such as plastic bags, deliberate head injuries by fishermen, collision with speedboats etc. The function and maintenance of the Rescue Centre is based on volunteers. Every year almost 50 volunteers work on sea turtle treatment, maintenance and public awareness.
After studying Marine Biology at Uni, we founded Flooglebinder. Through travel, we connect people with nature and help them explore new cultures and communities in the hope to create the next generation of global citizens. Adventures are the best way to learn. Taking part in conservation projects, engaging with other like-minded youths and gaining life skills is valuable to their own personal development outside the classroom, create new friendships and will empower them to make a positive impact. We provide educational programmes and travel experiences for students, families and groups of all ages with the aim to conserve threatened habitats, protect endangered species and ultimately create better global citizens. And have a great time!
NOW MESSAGE: MORE THAN ONE DAY BACK is a special three part series from September to December 2017. It is important for all of us and the next generation to travel and learn to look at the world in a new perspective. Having a great time while immersing yourself in culture, conservation and community in a week-long conservation project or giving ‘One Day Back or More’ from your vacation to your host community will hopefully inspire a passion and commitment to protect all three.
Giving ‘One Day Back or More’ to the local community of your chosen destination is an enriching experience that has the potential to be life-changing. Next time you book a holiday, email the hotel or resort and ask them for suggestions on how you could spend your ‘One Day Back or More’. Ask them to reach out to local charities and organisations, provide you with suggestions and make the arrangements for you.
NOW would love to feature your ‘Giving Back’ stories too. For more information, take a look here: https://www.itmustbeNOW.com/itmustbeNOW-magazine-contributor/
Ian Taylor and Brad Frankel
Founder – FLOOGLEBINDER