Outstanding summer programs for teens since 1982
Blog
Header Item 1

The Westcoast Connection Blog

Life Changing Experiences

Caring for Elephants – Thailand Community Service

t1 blog 3 photo 1 thailand chiang mai

After performing meaningful community service in schools, it was time to hang out with some of the planet’s most gentle giants – the native Thai elephant. As we rode to the Patara Elephant Sanctuary, everyone’s excitement grew by the second! The sanctuary welcomed us with classic Thai smiles and were very kind and caring towards our group.  As we caught our first glimpse of a mother with her baby elephant, the “oohs” and “awws” began! We spent a lovely day feeding, brushing, bathing, and admiring these beautiful creatures. Most of the trip members called it, “An experience of a lifetime!” While others remarked, “They are all so receptive to our touch and commands” and “It is so different to see them roaming free, in nature than fenced.”

t1 blog 3 photo 1 thailand chiang mai

Not only were the elephants giving us the experience of a lifetime, but we all loved the idea that we would be helping the elephants as well! Firstly, we all met and learned the name of the elephant that we would be caring for during the day. We fed them bananas, which they would reach forward and take with their trunks. As we fed them the bananas, we learned words such as, “didi”(good boy/girl) and “Ma” (stop.)  One trip member commented, “They are so gentle and careful when we feed them.” Afterwards, we took the elephants to the water and were each given a brush and a straw bucket to brush and rinse them! Our favorite moments were when they would fill up their trunks with water and splash us- just like a hose! Once we finished our incredible time with the elephants, it was time for lunch! We ate in the most amazing hut overlooking the mountains, with the elephants in the background. Lunch consisted of chicken, fruit and sticky rice wrapped in banana leaves. With full hearts and bellies, we said goodbye to this magical day!

Here in Thailand, children from the age of 4 start learning Muay Thai, the Thai form of boxing.  When we arrived at the ring, we had a great time learning how to perform Muay Thai just like the professionals! The instructors were great in leading us through drills and teaching us the correct way to punch, kick, and jab. Everyone enjoyed wearing the gloves and working out together! Some of the trip members even said they wanted to find a studio back at home where they could continue developing their new skills. Before we left the studio, two of the trainers sparred for us and amazed us all with their speed and strength!  Watching the match got us all more excited about the female competition we were going to see at night!

t1 blog 3 photo 2 thailand chiang mai

The northern provinces brought lots of great experiences to our journey, but now it’s time for the beach, so Krabi here we come! Immediately upon arrival, we felt the warm southern ocean breeze! We spent our night on a rooftop patio for a pizza dinner before everyone enjoyed walking the markets and getting ice cream. We began our first water adventure in the morning with open water kayaking. Everyone took in all the beautiful scenery, as we went through mangroves, around caves and even saw two monkeys! After swimming, the group took a break to energize ourselves with some delicious Thai food at a restaurant overlooking the ocean.

Our next adventure was taking longboat rides to Poda Island and Koh Phi Phi to go snorkeling and scuba diving in unique and breathtaking places! We swam in turquoise water with the famous Chicken Island in the background – a name given due to its resemblance of the animal. Underwater, the trip members experienced beautiful, colorful coral and creatures including starfish and seahorses.

Life underwater and above water was definitely enjoyed at Krabi. The beaches, the colors, the markets and the fresh coconut water were all absolutely amazing!  

We can not wait to see what the end of our wonderful Thailand trip holds!

The Westcoast Blogger

Want to help care for elephants in Thailand? Check out our 25-day community service opportunity!