Gap Program Update #6

What a busy week! This final week of February brought the midpoint of our intensives (see the previous post for background info), the much-anticipated Monster Run-Swim, and various other excitements!

Intensives continued for the gappers – for me that meant continuing on with the shark team, the highlight of which was discovering we sharking gappers are not bad luck (aka we finally got to help with a shark!!!). After a long morning setting up and then watching our line in the marina, tempting a number of sharks with fresh bait from fishermen down the dock, we finally had one large nurse shark bite! Jack, Shaper and I got to help Brendan and Ian take the necessary samples and measurements, plus tag the shark before releasing it again. This was the second-to-last nurse shark needed for the longline physiology study – wahoo!

On Tuesday night, various members of the CEI/IS community gathered for a Coffeehouse. Among a cluster of various talents from baking to putting chickens into tonic immobility (more commonly used – at least here – with sharks), Shaper performed an excerpt from the Vagina Monologues written by her friend, Sasek a poem by the spoken-word poet Andrea Gibson, and Jack sang Neil Young’s Heart of Gold with two of the interns. All around a fun, talent-filled evening!

Wednesday was Foundation Day, celebrated with participation in various activities (I went lobstering, which turned into Shaper and I practicing hauling ourselves into the boat – just getting buff), meetings with our “extended advisories” that we will be a part of (briefly) while the IS students are here, and a barbeque and bonfire on Sunset Beach!

Training continued throughout the week, including the first taste at swim drills for most of us, led of course by our fearless leader Scotty, as well as an early morning game of kickball with two visiting programs and a number of Island School faculty…

…which led to THE highlight of this week: the MONSTER Run-Swim (if you were to have someone explain to you the 6-mile course, you would indeed see how it is rightly termed a monster). On this cloudy, breezy Saturday morning we woke up early to meet at the flagpole to warm up as per usual for morning exercise and greeted the day, led by Will. Our support staff (a collection from IS and CEI) took off for their places around the Cape, and at 6:49am we gappers began the long course. With many different legs of running and swimming, we wound our way through “the loop” and marina, along beaches, and finally over the final portions of the regular run-swim course, ending on campus. Our strengths – whether as runners, swimmers, or somewhere in between – balanced us out, most of us returning to the flagpole-finish line within minutes of each other, and everyone under the 2-hour goal! It’s pretty impossible to describe exactly what this experience was like in a blog post, but all in all it was not as bad as we thought it would be, it was in fact fun, and I for one felt like a powerhouse athlete afterwards – so, pretty darn rewarding. (A shoutout of thanks to the support and cheers from fellow gappers and the support staff, especially Scotty, who did the whole course with us!)

Saturday afternoon was spent with well-deserved rest and relaxation (aka naps, snacks, and movies), particularly appropriate for the chilly weather (the rain started just minutes after we’d all completed the Monster). We have also been continuing work on our Human Ecology final papers and beginning brainstorming for our DoLs (Demonstrations of Learning). AND, this coming week will see the arrival of the 48 Spring ’13 Island School students; it’s sure to be yet another exciting week here on Eleuthera!

by Julia Peters