What is the Three-Generation Barge Program?
Three-Generation Barge Program is the outdoor environmental education program of the Traidhos Three-Generation Community for Learning, aiming to raise awareness of the environmental issues affecting Thailand and the wider world and to assist people in taking responsibility for conserving their environment.
The Barge Program focuses on educating people, mostly youth, about watershed issues and the interconnected ecosystems which affect them.
What is the Chao Phraya Watershed and why is it important that I learn about it?
The Chao Phraya Watershed is the largest watershed in Thailand running all the way from the mountains of the North to Samut Phrakhan Province where the Chao Phraya empties into the Gulf of Thailand.
Made up of the Ping, Wang, Yom, and Nan tributaries, the river is over 370 km long, and has played an integral part in the lives of Thai people for centuries. Now more than ever, the people of Thailand rely on this water source to irrigate their fields, as a major means of transportation, a source of construction materials, an area for recreation and tourism, and in many more ways.
The watershed provides the perfect place for you and your classmates to learn in a hands-on way about habitats, cultures, environmental impacts, and the interdependence between all living things and the natural resources which sustain these.
What types of programs does Three-Generation Barge Program offer?
In addition to one- to five-day school trips aboard the barge, we offer outreach programs and multi-day land-based educational trips to Chiang Mai, Khao Yai, Suphanburi, Kanchanaburi, Krabi, Ranong, Ban Chiang, and Rayong. We provide interactive experiences focusing on Thai culture and history as well as natural history investigations. We serve the Thai, International, and Overseas Communities. We also offer the opportunity for private adult groups, family trips, teacher training, and retreat groups.
What is the Barge?
The Three-Generation Barge is what is traditionally called a 'rua krachaeng'. Originally, it was an open-hulled boat without an engine, but with a small covered space for a family to live in, and was pulled in a line with others by a tug boat.
The barge was used to transport rice, sand and soil, timber, and other products up and down the Chao Phraya River. The twenty-meter teak barge has since been converted. Now it has a large covered main deck used for activities, an air-conditioned sleeping cabin offering accommodation for twenty-five students, a kitchen, two showers, two western-style toilets, and a small library.
Who looks after the Barge?
To develop the sense of community, participants work together with the barge staff, rotating through four "Barge Crews". This enables you and your classmates to cook your own Thai meals to share with the entire group, clean and tidy up the working areas of the barge, learn basic navigational skills and prepare, present, and lead a game for your friends.
These 'work' times are often voted highlights of the trip. In addition, the barge is well-cared-for on each trip by a captain and two crew. The crew supports the Three-Generation Barge teaching staff by helping with the cooking, cleaning, maintenance, and safety of everyone.
What will we learn about?
Your teachers have chosen the Three-Generation Barge Program as an extended field trip relating to themes and concepts you have already been studying at school. On a trip, you will be introduced to the environment, culture, and history of some of Thailand's watersheds.
Three Generation Barge trips will also challenge you to learn about yourself, about your classmates, and about the connections, you each have to the environment around you. Through all this, trips aim to help develop and strengthen a positive learning community for you and your classmates.
What are some of the activities that will I be doing each day?
With your instructors and barge groups, you might explore the habitats of different plants and wildlife, look at the lasting effects of riverside development, learn about the cultural history of early Thai kingdoms or present-day hill tribe peoples, swim in a waterfall pool, sketch and write in your trip journal, participate in a service project which benefits the earth's resources, and work together with classmates to solve exciting group challenges.
Who will teach us?
The Three-Generation Barge Program has a team of ten talented Field Instructors who represent a mixture of Thai and foreign teachers. Instructors work with each other in small teams leading groups of students. All instructors are college graduates with degrees in relevant disciplines and are experienced teachers and leaders of groups in outdoor settings.
The instructors are trained in CPR and Emergency First Aid.
The Three-Generation Barge Program staff are talented, dynamic, and eclectic in their outdoor, educational, and personal pursuits. Many travel the world to experience other cultures and wild places, or to pursue recreational interests. Together they bring a great diversity of experience, a shared passion for teaching, and a lot of fun, humor, and energy to the program. We are proud to say that they bring to the teaching field with them the same zest for educating as they have for life!
What do we do at night?
After the sun goes down, you and your friends may learn about stars and do some gazing from the roof of the barge. Or perhaps you will go on a night-time safari to discover the world of nocturnal animals. You and your friends might even entertain one another by putting on a rousing talent show. Or perhaps you will participate in a role-play mediation to involve you in debates about important environmental issues.
There may be games to play that test you and your friends at overcoming obstacles while racing the clock! And after it all there will be plenty of time to relax with your classmates, read a book, or share your most exciting moments and discoveries of the day with your barge community.
Where will I sleep?
On our land-based trips sleeping arrangements will depend on the trip location. We provide safe and comfortable environments from dormitories or tents at the National Parks, to clean, simple rooms shared with friends elsewhere.
For trips on the barge, you will enjoy the unique experience of sharing a cabin with all of your classmates, and fall asleep to the calming sounds of the Chao Phraya River. With at least three staff and two teacher chaperones, we can ensure that all students are well cared for and get enough rest for the busy day ahead!
What will I eat, where will I eat, and who cooks the food?
Whether you are well on your way to opening your own gourmet restaurant or can just barely make yourself a bowl of Mama Noodles, you will be sure to love cooking meals on the barge!
Delicious Thai food will be whipped up by you and your classmates with the guiding help of barge staff then enjoyed on the deck buffet style. On land-based trips, groups have the chance to visit an array of restaurants both at and outside of the accommodation and often get treated to special traditional meals. If notified in advance special diets can be easily accommodated.
What happens if it should rain?
Occasionally showers do occur on land and barge trips, but rarely are they strong enough to disrupt activities. If games or lessons on the open-air barge were to be interrupted by rain the group would retreat to the large dry bedroom and continue activities.
Land-based trip leaders and schedules are always flexible enough to rearrange the timetable a bit and keep the group in a sheltered area if there is heavy rain. But usually, a raincoat is enough to keep participants dry in the case of a light sprinkle.
How about taking a shower?
Three-Generation Barge is equipped with two comfortable showers which participants use every evening before bedtime. Showering on the barge even provides one of our most important lessons: conservation. As water supplies carried aboard the barge are limited, students are allowed only three minutes to shower - practicing water conservation.
How should I pack and what should I bring?
Your teacher or group coordinator will provide you with the required equipment and clothing list. Be prepared for a broad range of tropical weather, from hot sunny afternoons to heavy, cooling rain at times, and perhaps even cold evenings up in the mountains. It is important that you have all items so that you can comfortably and safely enjoy your trip, rain or shine.
Every time we go off the barge or into the field you should have the following items in your daypack:
At least one full one-liter or bigger, leak-proof water bottle. You will be able to refill your water bottle during the trips
A sun hat
Your barge journal
A pen or pencil with an eraser
Any prescribed medications you may need (let your teacher or barge leader know)
You may also want to bring sunglasses, spending money, and a camera with sufficient memory and a battery charger. Remember, you will carry your daypack all day so keep it light. Walkmans, Gameboys, mobile phones, extra snacks will not be permitted in daypacks or on the trail.
How should I prepare myself mentally and physically for my trip?
Be prepared to participate fully in all group activities and discussions. Be ready to cooperate with your classmates, teachers, and the barge staff and be a considerate member of our barge community.
Please come willing to make new friends, laugh with us, and have a good time on the trip! And don't forget to get a good night's sleep before your trip since you will have full, active days.
What are Three-Generation Barge Program's behavioral expectations of its students and adult participants?
The Three-Generation Barge Program expects all students, teachers, and chaperones to actively participate and contribute to an enjoyable and safe learning community.
Disruptive and disrespectful behavior of students or chaperones has a negative impact on the experience for others. Not supporting the learning and living community, failing to listen to and follow directions and guidelines outlined by barge staff, and making poor judgments that compromise personal safety or the safety of others will not be tolerated.
The Three-Generation Barge Program reserves the right to send participants home if behavior compromises personal or group safety.
What about program safety?
We pride ourselves on maintaining one of the safest, and most successful environmental education programs in the country and strive to sustain our excellent safety record.
Safety is a paramount consideration when hiring, training, and planning activities. Our professional staff of field instructors has each passed a rigorous background check and all have current first aid and CPR certification.
Children are supervised in groups during the day by barge staff, with support from attending chaperones. Free time is also supervised.
Attending chaperones - parents, teachers, and school administrators - share responsibility for participant safety and security at all times.
Is swimming or canoeing in the Chao Phraya River a concern?
Swimming and canoeing activities are an anticipated part of barge trips for many students since they provide a welcome chance for physical activity, and allow students to experience the Chao Phraya River in a very special way.
Before the activities, students learn how to keep themselves, each other, and the equipment safe in the water.
Students are allowed to play only in a small bay or quiet klong, free from major river traffic or activity. Life jackets are worn at all times and the crew and barge staff stay beside students in a small dinghy to assure everyone's safety. Only students with signed permission forms are allowed to swim in the river.
What happens if my child were to get sick?
Barge staff or and adult chaperones are able to attend to your child's needs in the event of an illness or minor injury. Usually assuring that students drink plenty of water is enough to prevent most feelings of headache, seasickness, or exhaustion related to dehydration.
If a student does become ill medicine may be administered after checking medical forms. In case of a serious situation, no risks will be taken with a student's safety and they will be promptly taken to see a doctor, and parents will be contacted.
Is contact with wildlife a concern?
We may see a Giant Water Monitor Lizard but he will not stay around once the boat approaches.
On land, both along the river and in the forest we occasionally see snakes but the vibrations caused by ten or more pairs of feet usually send it sliding away.
We discourage students from playing in piles of dead leaves and in poking their fingers down holes. We need to be aware of red ants but this is not a big problem.
It is wise to wear bug protection from around 6.00 pm if the boat is not moving or in the evening at land-based sites.
During the rainy season, we provide leech socks when walking in the forest. Leeches do not carry any disease but may cause distress to people unfamiliar with them.
When we do meet animals in the forest you should remember that they are wild and not pets and refrain from feeding and trying to pet.