Categorized | National News

Andros Adventures and Sandyport Beaches for Bahamas National Trust Campers

Forty high school students got the chance to explore the natural environment and ecosystems of the country this summer with the Bahamas National Trust’s (BNT) Eco-Camp. With the support of Sandyport Beaches Resort, who provided the camp with free accommodations for its family-island campers, the annual BNT youth programme expanded attendees horizons under its leadership theme.

Of the 40 campers, 27 were from the family islands and required accommodations in Nassau before and after the field activities in Andros. A long-time supporter of the Bahamas National Trust, Sandyport Beaches Resort didn’t hesitate to offer rooms for the children and their chaperones at the 72-room hotel in the Sandyport Marina Village on West Bay Street.

“We recognise the opportunity the BNT is providing these young students, immersing them in the beautiful environment that surrounds us in the Bahamas, and that hotels like ours depend on,” said Cheralda Arnett, Front Desk Manager at the Sandyport Beaches Resort.

“Helping to defray costs by providing accommodation is certainly our pleasure. One day, members of this camp may go on to be our nation’s marine biologists, ecologists, and conservationists. These youngsters could be an integral part of our country’s future, so we are happy to make this investment in their futures.”

Spending most of their days in Andros, the campers were encouraged to leave their comfort zones and interact with the environment and with the residents of Andros’ communities for a week. Attendees participated in outdoor activities such as hiking, snorkelling, and swimming and took part in species identifications sessions each morning.

Stephan Evans, Navigators Coordinator at the Bahamas National Trust stated that he believed the Eco Camp is one of the BNT’s best programs.

“We use the environment and the work of the BNT as an avenue to teach the students skills like leadership that will follow them throughout their lives. We have seen so many successes with Eco Camp and past members have gone on to do impact studies and other projects in our parks that feed into the work of the BNT.”

He stated that this year the students got to participate directly in BNT field work.

“We are already doing a perception survey in different parts of the Bahamas so we thought we’d have the students contribute to the work BNT is doing. The students went out into the Fresh Creek community to survey the residents about the work of the BNT. After, they developed a pitch on what we could do with the survey data, integrating all that they learned. Often we discredit what young people can bring to the table, but some of the things they said were mind-blowing. They made plans for outreach strategy with goals and objectives and all of the formal structure needed to bring innovative ideas to life.”

One camper, 14 year old S.C. Bootle student Curlene Bellott said that the camp opened her eyes. “Many of the things we did at the Eco-Camp I was doing for the first time, so it was pretty amazing. My favourite thing – which pushed me out of my comfort zone – was jumping into the blue hole. I also snorkelled for the first time and I loved it.

“I learned so much about species identification and I will be going into grade 10 in September so a lot of what I’ve learnt here will give me a head start in biology.”

Miss Bellott also said that staying at Sandyport Beaches Resort was fun for the campers.

“I loved it at Sandyport Beaches Resort,” she said. “After a week of hot sun at the camp it was great to relax and go in the pool before going home. Also, the rooms connect to each other so we can easily spend time with our campmates and continue to get to know each other.”

Mr. Evans echoed Miss Bellot stating the BNT’s gratefulness for the in-kind donation.

“First and foremost, it is so beautiful here! We have to be concerned about where the kids stay, because the parents are concerned about where they are sending their kids. So when we can send them links or photos to a beautiful place like this it puts us and the parents at ease.

“Eco-Camp would be impossible without the support of Sandyport Beaches Resort simply because we bring in kids from so many different islands and we all leave together. Many people don’t understand the amount of work that goes into saying that we have kids from places like Mayaguana, Inagua, Long Island, Exuma and all of the other islands. If we have no place for them to stay, the camp couldn’t happen. Without Sandyport Beaches Resort that work would be for nought.”

Written by Jones Bahamas

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