July 21, 2016

Oftentimes in the outdoor education world, we ask our students about sense of place. We wonder together about how one comes to care about a place. We ponder the difference between knowing a place first and caring for it inherently, and in coming to know a place and learning to care for it.

It seems that to address the latter, to come to know a place and learn to care, one must first integrate his or herself into it. To learn traditions, to engage in the language, and to share the important pieces of one’s own life with others.

Today, we did just that! Our students combined with 15 students from a local group by the name of Youth Empowerment Program (YEP) for a day of play on the beach at Long Bay. Our students were responsible for coaching the group in small boat sailing, stand up paddle boarding, kayaking, and water sports. A group even took them all out for a short sail around Guana Island onboard one of our program’s vessels.

It was a day that felt like magic to be a part of – truly an unforgettable afternoon where cultures mixed and shared and played together in organic ways. It was a day of learning to care for a place by coming to know it. We came to know it through the important venues in all of our lives, learning that we value laughter, friendship, sunshine, and fun together.  By sharing each of our own ways of pursuing those things with one another. And, finally, by breaking bread together. We barbecued on the beach and we ate a dinner together as the day came to a close and our learning sank into our hearts.

It is days like these that students leave knowing this place and holding it in a place more close to their hearts. It is days like these that will inspire young people to care for these places and to look after them!

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