The British Virgin Islands offer an amazing environment of beautiful islands and warm, welcoming people. Sail Caribbean is all about creating opportunities for teens to really explore and connect with the Caribbean experience. Community service is an integral aspect to all of the Sail Caribbean teen summer adventures offered. Whether it be cleaning up a local beach, marking lionfish dens, tagging sea turtles, or teaching local kids how to snorkel – we feel that active involvement is a way to give back and show our appreciation.
One of the most rewarding and exciting aspects of the community service activities is Sail Caribbean’s unique outreach efforts with the Youth Empowerment Program (YEP) of the BVI. Like Sail Caribbean, the organization is based on the island of Tortola, and was created to be a fun and safe environment for local kids. YEP shares a similar mission and is basically the Caribbean equivalent of the Boys and Girls Club here in the United States. It is primarily run by community volunteers who strive to be excellent adult role models and mentors for the children and teens involved. With its open-door policy, YEP is a welcoming and exciting place of youth to go in their free time after school, on Saturdays, and on public holidays and school vacations.
YEP offers a variety of programs to community youth including academic assistance, sports activities, wellness guidance, and maintaining cultural traditions. So where does Sail Caribbean come in? Well, I’ll tell you!
During the course of a Sail Caribbean program, every camper learns so many new skills from sailing to snorkeling, to working as a cohesive team. It is one thing to master a new skill, but it gets taken to a whole new level when you are asked to be lead others as they learn. Members of YEP join Sail Caribbean fleets for exciting days on the water sailing, participating in games and competitions, snorkeling for Sandwatch and Seagrass monitoring projects, and for cultural and environmental presentations put on by Sail Caribbean campers! You will have so much to teach and share with the local youth, but you better believe they will have plenty to teach and share with you as well! Check out previous Trip Updates featuring adventures with YEP friends!
What have you learned from this or other community outreach programs that you have participated in? Do you have any fun memories of time spent with YEP kids?
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.