Hurricane Island Outward Bound School (HIOBS) is partnering with The Island School to launch an expeditionary sailing program to be operated out of The Island School’s campus in Cape Eleuthera, The Bahamas. Thanks to seed funding from the Mactaggart Third Fund, the two organizations are looking forward to hosting groups and students starting in 2016.
In 2012, The Island School developed the concept of a sailing program. After deciding a partnership was the best option, The Island School was introduced to HIOBS’ Executive Director Eric Denny in 2013. It was in May 2015 when the dream took shape when a veteran crew from HIOBS sailed on an epic expedition from Florida, across the Gulf Stream and the Bahamas Bank to Eleuthera to deliver two sailboats, Avelinda and Eliza Sue, to The Island School’s Cape Eleuthera campus. Avelinda and Eliza Sue are 30-foot twin masted sailboats designed to sail quickly and navigate into shallow waters with extractable center boards. In keeping with the “human-powered” expedition ethos of Outward Bound, these open boats are oar powered by students when there is little wind. Designed and built specifically for Outward Bound, the boats can carry up to 8 participants and 2 instructors and will allow expeditions to sail out across the Exuma Sound to the Exuma Sound to the Exuma Land and Sea Park, the oldest marine protected area in the world.
“I see this partnership as a model for non-profits in the coming decade,” states Denny. “It brings two world-class organizations together to share their complementary areas of expertise to create an exceptional program that neither organization could accomplish on its own.”
The first step in this partnership is to integrate sailing into the existing expeditionary curriculum of The Island School’s 100-day fall and spring semesters and Gap Year program beginning fall 2015. In 2016, HIOBS and Island School will launch a 21-day expedition that includes sailing, exploring and studying around Eleuthera’s neighboring islands. The trip will include research, a coastal marine ecology and conservation course, focus on island sustainability, teach seamanship and leadership skills, and allow for team and leadership development.
About Hurricane Island Outward Bound
Outward Bound is a non-profit educational organization and expedition school that serves people of all ages and backgrounds through active learning expeditions that inspire character development, self-discovery and service both in and out of the classroom. Outward Bound delivers programs using unfamiliar settings as a way for participants across the country to experience adventure and challenge in a way that helps students realize they can do more than they thought possible. The organization established its first sea-based school on the coast of Maine in 1964. Hurricane Island, a remote island approximately 75 miles northeast of Portland, served as the summer base camp for sailing, sea kayaking, and rock climbing programs. For more information, visit www.hiobs.org.
This morning we were visited by a large manatee in the Boathouse Cut! Educational Programs Lead Educator, Tiffany Gray, shared photos and information on the sighting with Bahamas Marine Mammal Research Organization who informed us that our manatee friend is named Blackbeard who is originally known by our US colleagues from Tampa Bay. He has been in the Bahamas since 2013 where he has spent time in Long Is, Cat Is, north Eleuthera (with another manatee “Gina”). From there he headed to Nassau in December 2014 and remained until late April when he was seen back in Spanish Wells with Gina.
Manatees are not common to The Bahamas due to the lack of fresh water so this sighting is very exciting! We hope Blackbeard sticks around for at least a few more days!
Recently, the Cape Eleuthera Institute supported the Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation (BREEF) for their first ever BREEF Eco-Schools Youth Environmental Leadership Summit in Nassau. The Cape Eleuthera Island School is an important model for schools and businesses in the Bahamas on experiential education, sustainable development, and scientific research. Participation in this event gave the opportunity to share this knowledge with 70 students from eighteen schools in Abaco, Grand Bahama, Eleuthera and New Providence. CEI Environmental Educator and Outreach Coordinator, Tiffany Gray, was able to lead two sessions, one for primary students and another for secondary, focusing on team building, sharks and opportunities here in Cape Eleuthera. There was also a booth set up throughout the two day summit for more information on educational programs, summer camps, BESS, the Plastic Summit in June, and future employment opportunities.
A notable announcement during the welcoming remarks came from Minister Kenred Dorsett, Minister of the Environment. He explained that the newly amended Electricity Act now makes it legal for the public to connect their houses, schools, and businesses, to the grid for credit through alternative energy! We have been doing this for years on campus but the fact that it is now legal is a huge step in the right direction for energy use in the Bahamas.
The Preston H. Albury High School (PHAHS) Eco club, originally inspired by Kristal Ambrose, former plastic researcher and education coordinator at CSD, is working hard to become a green flag certified Eco School. Our continued support for this club gives DCMS alumni at PHAHS and former DCMS teacher, Will Simmons, much appreciated support in this endeavor.
The summit was a huge success for BREEF and our participation played a pivotal role in the event. We look forward to collaborating with BREEF, PHAHS, and future Eco Schools in Eleuthera for the next summit in 2017!
Every summer, The Island School welcomes a group of talented and motivated educators to their annual Teachers Conference. One of our attendees from this past summer, Mark Dewart, a science teacher at Park Tudor School in Indianapolis, shared some beautiful remarks at morning circle one morning:
“Reading “The Rediscovery of North America.” and being at the Island School leaves me thinking that we not only need to “rediscover” North America but we also need to “reinhabit” the continent. All of the teachers here come from communities that have thousands of inhabitants but how many of these inhabitants are living sustainably and joyfully in our home towns? There are currently 7 billion people on the planet with another 2 billion on the way before our students reach our age. We aren’t even close to figuring out how we are going to do this. How do we build communities that are sustainable and joyful to live in AND protect the wild places we have seen this week and the beings that live there? The important work of “rediscovery” leads to the important work of “reinhabitation.”
At the Island School we experienced first-hand what it looks and feels like to live in a joyful and sustainable community . We were comfortable and well-fed by food, energy and water producing systems that ran off of massive amounts of cleverness and ingenuity rather than tons of coal and barrels of oil. We spent a week on an island where, in the last 500 years, the people have had everything thrown at them from recurring hurricanes to the calamities of guns, germs and steel that the voyages of “discovery” brought to this part of the world. In the people living on these islands, around the hydroponic and tilapia tanks or in the ocean creatures we saw or held, all week we have felt the drumbeat of the universe beating strongly in Bahamaland. As we return to our home communities, like propagules falling from a mangrove tree, that drumbeat will animate our efforts to help our students and communities “rediscover” and “reinhabit” North America and the planet. “
Last week the New York Harbor School, located in the heart of New York Habor, visited The Island School for their 6th consecutive year. Each year NYHS sends a group of students with instructors Joe Gessert and Liv Dillon to participate in a week of intense SCUBA training. In addition to the two instructors, NYHS sends down a student Dive Master and student Dive Master in-training to help organize and help out with dives.
Over the course of the week, all of the visiting 10th and 11th grade students completed their PADI Advanced Open Water SCUBA certification, participated in daily morning excercise, and explored Eleuthera. With over 20 group dives led by Ron Knight, the director of waterfront and SCUBA operations, the group collectively logged over 300 dives! These consisted of both shallow water reef dives and deep water dives of the wall of the Exuma Sound, as well as navigation and several night dives.
Amongst their favorites, one that stood out for many of the students (and was often requested!) was diving The Cape Eleuthera Institute’s offshore aquaculture cage, also known as “The Cage”. The Cage is a massive underwater structure located a mile off the coast of Eleuthera at a depth of about 80ft. When diving The Cage one is transported to a surreal underwater landscape, which includes what looks like a giant space ship to the west and the 3000 ft depth of the Exuma sound to the east! With the opportunity to see various species of sharks, schools of horse-eyed jacks, and a massive grouper that is known to reside below the cage, it’s no wonder The Cage was a favorite dive for many of the students!
Another notable dive was Hole in the Wall, a deep dive along the wall of the Exuma Sound. This dive includes a swim-through of a bus sized tunnel that starts on top of the reefs at 70 ft and exits along the wall of the Exuma Sound at 100 ft looking out into the 3000 ft blue abyss. You can check out a quick timelapse of their dive at Hole in the Wall on our Instagram! NYHS finished their week with a trip “down island” snorkeling at the Green Castle Blue hole where they spotted a school of eagle rays!
The New York Harbor School and the Island School have a strong history of partnership with the facilitation of thier annual diving program at The Island School and NYHS sending students to the Island School Semester Program. Here’s to many more years!
Below is a photo essay of NYHS’s last dives at The Cage and Hole in the Wall:
(Photographs by Will Strathmann)
We Hope to see you next year!
The idea of a Gap Year is to take a step back to view the big picture. To take a step back to look at where you’ve come from, where you’ve gone and see where you’d like to go. To take a step back so you can take the right steps forward.
The program here came to an end last week, culminating in the students Demonstration of Learning and Graduation ceremony. Over the past nine weeks Eryn, Ryan and Jordan have made profound change in their own lives and of those surrounding them.
- Taking marine ecology classes
- Teaching an environmental issue class of their own
- Taking a human ecology class
- Community service projects
- Down Island camping trip, experiencing a sense of place on Eleuthera
- Community outreach at the Deep Creek Middle School
- Conducting the Fall 2013 shallow water conch surveys
- Adventuring on 5 day Kayak expedition
- Being part of a research team as an intern for three weeks
- Getting both Open Water and Advanced Scuba certified
- Presenting their learning to the wider community
They have each proved themselves in both a personal and professional setting, being part of the community family and involved with the research facility. During the student’s demonstration of learning it was clear how much they are taking from the program. The diverse learnings of each student are a testament to each of their personal challenges and growth.
We would like to wish the Gap Year Team of Fall 2013 all the luck in the world as they move onto other endeavors and experiences, we hope you take what you learned here and build upon it. You are the game changers.
If you’re interested in joining the Gap Year Team of Spring 2014 or learning more about the Gap Year program in general, you can find out more on our website; http://www.ceibahamas.org/gap-year.aspx.
A group of 17 high school student visited DCMS for the first ever DCMS-Round Square Plastics Seminar in early October. Round Square is a world-wide association of schools that works to develop young people and their approach to life through experiential learning. Visitors were paired with DCMS Eco Club members to share perspectives on plastics pollution and have some fun.
“My buddy goes to boarding school in Massachusetts, but she’s originally from China,” said Eco Club member Marinique Leary, grade 8. “She is going to make posters for beaches and spread the word about preventing plastics pollution back in Massachusetts.”
Students got to know one another through ice breakers and games. “Mingling with the students was a nice experience because we got to teach them some of our customs and show them some of the activities we do at school when we have free time,” said Eco-Club member Patrick Johnson, grade 9.
The seminar was an opportunity for round table discussions on plastic pollution and how it is affecting the environment and our bodies. Students spent the afternoon at Wemyss Bight beach conducting plastic surveys for researcher Kristal Ambrose’s ongoing comparative research project on South Eleuthera’s beaches.
“It was great to have different ideas about how to handle plastic pollution. I think it was really fun to show the Round Square students a native beach and how clean it looks, but then show them how dirty it actually is,” said Eco Club president Zachary Carey, grade 9.
During their four days on island, Round Square students also spent time with researchers at CEI assisting with experiments, such as lionfish dissections with the lionfish crew. Students and educators alike are hopeful about the possibility of the seminar becoming an annual event.
Cape Eleuthera Institute and The Island School welcomed 18 South Eleutheran kids to campus this summer. Students participated in and were exposed to some of Cape Eleuthera Institute’s various research projects. Students took on the role of citizen scientists doing a conch survey at Wemyss Bight beach for CEI’s conch research program. They also contributed to research on bonefish and the flats ecosystem by seining at Broad Creek. Students learned about the invasive lionfish and its effects on Caribbean reefs by partaking in a class discussion, as well as a lionfish dissection. A Bahamian geology lesson on the sandbar was a great way to kick off the 40th anniversary of The Bahamas’ independence! Students snorkeled the sand areas around the sandbar where they discovered lots of critters—sea stars, sea cucumbers, sand dollars, heart urchins, milk conch, juvenile queen conch, sea biscuits, and lots more! For their last day, they headed to Rock Sound to explore the caves and the ocean hole.
The whole week was filled with many educational opportunities about the natural resources that the campers encounter in their daily lives living on the island. We hope that the kids will take these life-long lessons in water conservation and sustainability back home and incorporate them into their lifestyles.