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Pushed to the brink: Kids excel on summer camping expedition

  • Bahamas National Trust (BNT) Educational Outreach Officer Cheri Wood, second right, with summer students not so fresh off the boat after a week’s environmental educational camping trip in the wilds of Andros, at the Sandyport Beach Resort in New Providence, ready for a much-anticipated air conditioned room and long shower. The group spent seven days without cell phones in the outdoors, learning about the environment, face-to-face peer bonding and their own physical and emotional limits, all whilst developing a familial bond. Cheralda Arnett, second left, Sandyport Beach Resort manager. SERENA WILLIAMS MEDIA AND PUBLIC RELATIONS

Published: Jul 24, 2017

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It’s every kid’s worst nightmare — an electronic-free seven days during which they’re separated from social media and forced to interact with their peers face-to-face. But for the teenagers selected by the Bahamas National Trust (BNT) to attend the BNT annual camp, it turned into one of their best weeks of summer yet.

“I came with the intention of pushing past my physical limit, my breaking point, but also found that the experience, which at times was stressful, pushed me to my mental limit too,” said 16-year-old Fabian Laing. “Overall it was extremely fun, and one of the highlights was jumping and diving into a blue hole. I loved that.”

Cheri Wood, an educational outreach officer with the BNT who accompanied the group, said the intent of the expedition was to help the children overcome their limits.

“It pushes them physically. We hike, and when we sleep outside they’ve got to carry everything on their backs for miles. It also pushes them on a social level, because we take away all their electronics once we arrive in Andros, so they’re not allowed any cell phones or anything like that. So it pushes them in all different ways for growth and self-discovery.”

Having to face nature’s unpredictability and digital-free interpersonal communication was not as gruelling as the campers had first anticipated.

“I really loved how they took away the electronics, because usually in our generation we’re glued to it as an excuse to be antisocial. What I usually choose to do is be jokey so I can create a nice well-rounded atmosphere, and it was really fun because I got to make connections and we practically lived like a family,” said Laing.

“This was an amazing experience for me,” said Trueraine Cox, a 15-year-old camper from New Providence. “I got to do a lot of things I’d never done before. I can truly say I had an amazing time. I never thought that I would actually go a week without my electronics, but it was kind of cool. My favorite part of the camp was doing the lab experiments where you would break into a rock and look at all the little tiny organisms that live inside. Also, the scariest part for me, that I didn’t think I could handle, was diving into the blue hole, but I actually did it.”

Wood said camp activities were planned with a specific focus in mind.

“During the week we do classroom sessions, activities and field trips, and it’s all to reinforce the importance of preserving and protecting the natural resources of The Bahamas.

“It also gives the kids an opportunity to do things they’ve never done before, such as witnessing wild dolphins and snorkeling in West Side Marine Park. It really gets them out there to see their own space, their own country, and to understand why it’s so important that we take care of what we have.”

As has been the case in the past, the BNT ended the environmental educational camping trip to Fresh Creek, Andros with an overnight stay in New Providence’s Sandyport Beach Resort. After seven days in the wild, the group couldn’t wait to get into their air-conditioned rooms, take a shower and relax. According to Wood, their complimentary overnight stay at the Sandyport Beach Resort was the perfect way to end the trip.

“Because the resort is so Bahamian in style and set in natural foliage, staying here is the perfect and gentle transition back into civilization after the wilds of Andros.

“It’s the best of both worlds, hotel amenities with nature literally on the doorstep, even with the birds that we look for in the camp through our binoculars, you can see them right here with all the beautiful flowers and bushes,” said Wood.



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