THE Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) Sea and Earth Advocates (SEA) Camp recently convened 25 Filipino youth from across the Philippines at the Subic Bay Freeport Zone for a week-long workshop on environmental conservation.

YSEALI SEA Camps, organized by Save Philippine Seas (SPS) in partnership with the US Embassy in the Philippines, are leadership and environmental training programs that empower youth to take action on environmental issues in their home communities, across the Philippines, and around the Asean region.

During the SEA Camp, participants built their leadership and project management skills, participated in outdoor conservation activities, and learned from environmental experts. At the end of the program, participants pitched ideas for community-based environmental project to be funded by small grants from the US Embassy in the Philippines and implemented with guidance and support from SPS.

As part of the program, participants also implemented four conservation projects in Subic to help the community tackle its own environmental concerns. In Seayasat (a play on the Filipino word siyasat, meaning “to review”), participants helped local businesses assess their compliance with local environmental ordinances and the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of the Philippines.

SEA Campers in the Art, Indigenous Peoples, and Atolls project introduced indigenous children to environmental issues through art. In the Junior Seatizens project, participants taught marine conservation principles to school children through games. Through Waste Watchers, SEA Campers led an awareness campaign advocating for local businesses to reduce their use of plastic cups and straws.

Since 2015, eight YSEALI SEA Camps held in Batangas, Negros Oriental, Tawi-Tawi, Zamboanga City, Coron, Boracay, Manila, and Subic have engaged 152 young men and women from all around the Philippines. The US Embassy in the Philippines sponsors SEA Camps as part of its ongoing youth empowerment and environmental action programs. The next SEA Camp will be in Coron, Palawan in March 2017. This will be the first SEA Camp with international participants, bringing together 30 SEA Campers from all 10 Southeast Asian countries. (US Embassy PR)