June 03, 2015
When school closes for the summer, a group of students will set aside their smart phones, tablets and high tech gadgets to pick up canvas and sail needles, saws and epoxy. Thanks to a summer camp sponsored in part by Save The Bays, they’ll learn traditional boatbuilding and sailmaking skills that many of their ancestors depended upon to survive in The Bahamas.
The two-week hands-on boat-building and sailmaking course is part of the larger Nature Experience Summer Camp with sessions held on the grounds of the Charles Hayward Public Library in Grand Bahama. Some 70 youngsters attended last year and Executive Director Geneva Rutherford expects the number to be higher this summer.
While campers ages 5-15 move from activity to activity – lifesaving, nature experiences, fishing, straw craft and jewelry making -- a special group of 12-15 year-olds will participate in the boatbuilding and sailmaking class made possible in large part by the grant from Save The Bays.
“This is the second year that Save The Bays has demonstrated appreciation of this course and what the respect for the sea will mean as these students become the adults who will protect and preserve our waters,” said Ms. Rutherford. “We are very grateful for their donation and the ongoing support from Save The Bays.”
Students who take the boatbuilding course will work with hard woods brought in especially for the program. Working from 9 am to 4 pm under tents and trees, they’ll cut, cure and shape the hull of a 12-foot dinghy before learning to cut and sew the sail that will drive it. The course is taught by Carnard Bethell who is brought in from Andros for the program.
“We are very excited that this year that the founder of Phillips Sailmakers in Nassau, Mr. Larry Phillips, will be here for one day to share his knowledge of native sloop sailmaking,” said Ms. Rutherford.
“Mr. Phillips turned a childhood hobby into a profession and he will share with the students how Bahamian sloop sails differ from the cruising and racing sails that you see on most boats today.”
According to Save The Bays Education Director Joseph Darville, the summer camp dedicated to teaching young people more about their natural environment reflects Save The Bays’ values.
“When this organization was formed a little more than two years ago, we agreed to focus resources whenever we could on programs that help open the eyes of young people to the beauty and the majesty of this great country which our Creator has given us.
It is the young people who will become the future stewards of the environment protecting and preserving our waters and our natural resources. The Nature Experience Summer Camp at Charles Hayward Library in Grand Bahama is a fantastic opportunity for our future stewards to experience everything from bird watching to boat-building. I just wish we could duplicate this in every island of this archipelago.”
Assisting in the camp will be another group of young persons – graduates of the Young Environmental Ambassadors certification course, created and sponsored by Save The Bays. That program is so popular that more than twice the number of students who could be accommodated tried to sign up.
Founded in April 2013, Save The Bays is urging passage of comprehensive environmental protection legislation, an adequate Freedom of Information act, end to unregulated development and other protective environmental and resource management measures.
It is the fastest-growing environmental movement in the country’s history with a significant following on Facebook and numerous YouTube videos being watched around the world.