Monthly Archives: August 2016

Day 6 – Swim Swim Swim

Wow! Last day! What’s most amazing is that they’re all still going strong.

Run/Swim
Bathing suit, snorkel, running shoes: that was our prep list for this morning. Today was the day of the infamous run/swim. We started at the boathouse with a swim across the first channel, then ran a rocky path through woods and over an obstacle or two. Then, another channel and another glorious run. Some calisthenics. More swimming, more running, and then the hard part: scale the channel wall. Then we all did the same in reverse, only this time with a jump off  high rocks. YES, some major fears were conquered! It was marvelously challenging for all and earned a relieved and exhilarated thumbs up when it was over.

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Down Island Tour, Ocean Hole, and Cotton Bay
The rest of the morning and afternoon were spent on a tour of the island, another lovely swim and rock jumping at Ocean Hole, and then a picnic on the beach. We took a break to learn about plastics and spent time picking up trash, then right back in the water to cool off.

Look at these amazing jumpers!

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Our day at Cotton Bay!

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The End
We had a wonderful closing fire with chocolate chip cookie s’mores (ask your kid) and a rousing game of Fairy Tale. The magnificent full moon shown down on our Bahamas farewells and lit the way back to the dorms for an early bedtime (still working on that).

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It has been a week to remember. We hope your child will share lots of memories and keep the island vibe alive, living in the moment today and from now on.

Day 5 – Salty Smooth Sunrise

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Early Morning: Float the Cut!
Have you ever greeted the dawn with a sunrise float down a gently meandering channel, surrounded by friends and spiny urchins, doing all you can to grab the rocky shore before getting swept out to sea? We did.

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Coral Reef
Time again to switch adventures, so yesterday’s mangrove group went to the coral reef. Stunning. Today’s highlights included three stingrays, a puffer fish, bright purple coral, a parrot fish, and spiny lobster.
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Beautiful fish, corals, and a spiny lobster!

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Pro snorkelers and our beach-side classroom.

Mangroves
The alternate contingent had its chance to trek through a turquoise channel to a mangrove island, where we looked deep into the underwater roots and found schools of fish numbering in what must have been the zillions. We also witnessed what may have been sea cucumber poop, unless it was a deserted stingray shelter or maybe just a pile of sand that looked like an anthill.

IMG_1151IMG_1153Another sunny classroom, this time in the mangrove islands

IMG_1159IMG_1162Hands on science!

Sustainability Tours
After lunch, we broke into four teams for an in-depth tour of the facilities:

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At the aquaponics system at CEI, tilapia are raised for eating, and the nutrient rich water from their tanks is continuously pumped into an aquaculture system to grow lettuces, herbs, and kale. In the garden, the kids picked basil for pesto sauce and mint for tea for tomorrow’s lunch. At the fish tanks, the students tested the water quality and fed the tilapia.

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All of the energy at the compound is generated by either the wind or the sun. We learned a bit about how solar energy works, then kids had a chance to wire a solar panel to power lights. The hardest part was getting the wires to stay in the charge controller.

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All the vehicles at the compound run on biodiesel. Samuel taught us how the excess vegetable oil donated by cruise ships across the island is converted into fuel to run the fleet. We learned how the byproducts from biodiesel production can be used for fertilizing the garden, powering stoves in the kitchen, and making soap. When your child gets off the plane, ask him or her to define “transesterification.” In the pictures below, students are getting a tour of the facility and attempting to make a one-liter batch of biodiesel.

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A lot of the food we’ve enjoyed this week is grown right here. In the farm section of the tour, we saw the gardens and barnyard and had a chance to work the compost heap a bit. It’s not as complicated as biodiesel, but wow! We learned a few things.

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Another highlight: lasagna and homemade bread for dinner!

Crabs and Night Herons
The last episode of the day was another flip from yesterday with one group going crabbing and the other wading off into the night. The crabbers found one fewer crab than last night’s group, but the waders found all kinds of stuff: a night heron, a sucker fish, several needle fish, and lots of juvenile crabs on the shoreline.

It’s 10:19 and the dorms are silent but for the sound of waves lapping the shore just a few feet away.

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Day 4 – Triple Snorkel Day

It’s 9 P.M. and the kids are rap battling at top volume here in the “Octagon” common room. It’s loud. How do they have the energy?

High Rock
We greeted the sun with a leap off a high rock into the already-balmy ocean. This Island School tradition is longstanding, heart-pounding, and a perfect opportunity to conquer fears. The snorkeling along the rocky shoreline was dazzling. Some of us even saw a sting ray.

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Felt like a mile high drop!

Mangroves
After breakfast, kids were split into two groups. The first went to the mangroves. These important trees offer all kinds of benefits to the island ecosystem. They provide a nursery habitat for juvenile fish, they prevent erosion, and they filter run-off to help keep the ocean clean. Everybody loved the crazy amount of diversity: giant schools of fish, sponges, corals, and other invertebrates growing on the mangrove roots.

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Juvenile fish in the mangroves

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Charlotte and Olivia find a sea star

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Happiness

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Mangroves trees are vital to the island ecosystem

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Shallow water mangrove classroom

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Boys in the mangroves

Coral Reefs
The coral reef explorers got a pretty impressive intro to Cnidarians before stepping lightly into the delicate beauty just beneath the surface. We floated over all kinds of corals: plate, fan, branching, brain, and dove to be with an amazing variety of fish a few feet down.

IMG_1124 IMG_1129Our beach classroom

By noon, everyone was more than ready for a meatloaf feast. This fueled us for the snorkel/sand bar afternoon. Groups flipped from yesterday so that everyone got to experience all the coolness at the Sandbar and the Cage.

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Ready to head to the Sandbar!

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Clear blue waters and white sand beaches.

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Off to snorkel the Cage aboard the Cobia!

And then the sun went down…
Two new groups headed out into the night, one to find land crabs, and the other to investigate the nighttime shoreline.
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Successful crabbing expedition

Day 3 – Crack-of-Dawn Water Polo, a Blue Hole, and Ice Cream

Day 3 started out with smiles and singing around the flagpole.

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We then traveled over to the water for a game of water polo for morning exercise. What better activity for 6:30 in the morning?

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Perhaps we’ll have a new sport to play in the Brookwood pond!

The Cage Team!
For the next morning activities we split into two new groups. The first group hopped aboard the Cobia to snorkel at the “Cage” and the other group had the chance to explore the Sandbar.

In an effort to investigate sustainable solutions to the over-fishing problem, the Cape Eleuthera Institute constructed an aquaculture net where they are able to investigate best practices for raising fish for food. The top of the pen begins 15 feet below the surface and the bottom of the pen is at 85 feet. The kids loved swimming in clear blue waters and seeing the schools of fish that passed by.

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All aboard the Cobia!

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The Cage comes into view!

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Amazing snorkelers!

 

The Sandbar Team!
The other half of the group went to Paradise and back this morning. The sandbar is a tiny desert isle surrounded by 85 degree shimmering turquoise water. Whitney anchored the boat, and we let the current carry us to the magically smooth sand made up of “ooids.” This stuff sells for big bucks as emollient-to-the-rich-and-famous, so we rubbed it all over our bodies. Then Whitney told us that ooids are made up mostly of fish poop surrounded by calcium and carbonate ions. Didn’t even stink. And our skin was as smooth as, well, you know.

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The rainbow on the soft beach matched the rainbow just beneath the surface.

After lunch, we switched our shark and lionfish groups so that each student had the chance to experience both activities.

Sharks and Blue Hole

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Heading out on the shark boat!

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Watching the other boat set out the lines

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Charlie takes the wheel!

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Snorkeling at the Blue Hole.

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While we didn’t catch any sharks, we still had a great day on the boat!

Lionfish and Incredible Surprise!

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Dissecting lionfish can be fun! Science rocks. And then…

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…we rode beach cruisers…

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…to see a whole heap of nurse sharks, a stingray, and the HUGEST barracuda Whitney had ever seen! And we even got to sneak into the air-conditioned resort store and buy some ice cream. Some of you may be rather surprised at how easily those entire pints of Ben and Jerry’s went down!

You’d think after all this the kids would be tired. Exhausted, even. But many of us spent “Exploration Time” swimming and snorkeling some more, flying a kite, and playing cards. The evening program was all about reef fish identification. Students were most impressive in their knowledge already, and they asked tons of great questions. At the moment, they are hard at play AGAIN, competing in teams to identify a variety of fish based on specific features such as “opercula” and “caudal peduncles.” The energy in the room right now is no less than it was at daybreak and noon and (no) naptime. How do they keep going?

So that’s it, Day 3. The learning and hard work and great fun continue.