July 14, 2016
Students awoke this morning already moored at the Baths National Park on Virgin Gorda, after staff motored the boats from Long Bay. We ate a quick breakfast and swam ashore for an end of program tradition – the hickle! We hiked through the Baths, exploring the unique rock formations. Then we snorkeled our way back, checking out the rock formations from below sea level! Our last stop of the snorkel was jump rock. Staff sets up a line, and students all climbed up to the top of a huge rock to jump off! Several students even braved flips!
We swam back to boats and motored to Cooper Island for our final boat clean. Lunch was leftovers, so we ate everything from mac n cheese to breakfast sandwiches to Caesar wraps, doing our best to eat the remaining food. We spent a long time doing a thorough boat clean, getting every nook and cranny spotless for the end of program, then motored back to Hodges Creek, our home base.
Once we get to Hodges, we all passed our final cleaning inspections. Then, students completed evaluations of their staff members and got their phones to call home and check in before flying out in the morning! After showering, we all shared ribs, mac n cheese, and veggies for dinner, which were delicious.
Finally, we had the highly anticipated skits and awards night! We gathered together while Program Directors announced which students obtained what diving and sailing certifications. Sierra students presented their research projects to the rest of the students. It was so cool to hear about the coral and water quality research they had worked on for the past three weeks! Then, program directors announced the winners of chili cook-off and Olympics, and then we circled up for our final activity, an appreciation circle. Everyone got to let everyone else know how much they meant to each other over the past three weeks.
Students all returned to their home boats for one last boat meeting, and then spent the rest of the evening writing each other airplane letters, saying their goodbyes, and enjoying their last night together in this amazing place.
The greatest challenge during the program was staying entertained during the quarantine period. Not being able to leave your boat and not having a phone, which was a crutch against boredom, it was difficult at first to stay entertained.