July 30, 2018
In an adventurous gathering that has, over the years, seen participants climb Jamaica's Blue Mountain, chase waterfalls in Guyana and explore St Vincent’s dormant volcano among other daring exploits, The Bahamas will play host to regional thrill seekers in town to conquer Cat Island and snag an internationally recognized Award along with an experience they will not soon forget.
The Caribbean Award Sub Regional Council (CASC) Adventurous Journey will take place in the Bahamas from July 27 to August 10. Approximately, 134 persons are attending this year's event hosted by the Governor General’s Youth Award (GGYA) under the theme "Rakers and Scrapers." That number includes 30 persons from The Bahamas.
Launched in 1980, CASC focuses heavily on providing young people from across the region with the opportunity to attain their Silver or Gold Award from the London-based Duke of Edinburgh’s Award – the world’s leading youth achievement programme known by different names depending on the nation from which one hails.
“I call Cat Island the Jurassic Park of The Bahamas and I have to manage every risk,” said Jacquetta Maycock. As expedition leader she is tasked with leading a 34-strong team of staff personnel all working to ensure the two-week event takes place without a hitch.
“For persons camping outdoors, Cat Island’s environment is very extreme offering one of the most challenging expeditions to be had in The Bahamas.”
For Ms Maycock not only does the wildlife appear to be bigger, in comparison to other islands in The Bahamas, largely undeveloped, the terrain is challenging with its long stretches of coastline, bush pathways and diverse landscape which includes Mount Alvernia – at 206 feet, The Bahamas’ highest peak.
“As one of the event organizers, high up on our list of priorities are safety and enjoyment,” said Ms Maycock. Although it’s her first time spearheading such an event, it’s her fourth CASC. She has attended similar events in Guyana, Dominica and The Bahamas in progressively higher leadership roles.
“You definitely want persons to accomplish their goal on this adventure of a lifetime and you take every precaution to ensure things go according to plan. We want them to have fun and achieve their Award.”
An event held annually on different Caribbean islands, CASC historically draws young persons, age 14 to 24, from the Caribbean as well as the United Kingdom, Canada, Bermuda and the United States.
Playing host to the event for a fourth time, this time around The Bahamas will entertain participants from Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Grenada, Guyana, St Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago. The Bahamas last hosted the event in 2012.
At CASC, courses are offered to give persons who wish to remain involved in the organization after receiving their Gold Award an opportunity to receive the necessary training and leadership to facilitate the delivery of the programme which encourages young people to learn new skills, get physically active, volunteer within their communities and discover a sense of adventure outside the classroom.
One such person wanting to help deliver a life-changing experience to young persons is 22-year-old Iesha Dawkins, a leader-in-training.
“This programme highlights what we need in The Bahamas today, something to help young people be more productive in society as opposed to sitting at home idle,” said the Gold Award Holder (GAH) who is one of 23 leaders-in-training attending CASC.
For participants, training courses will run at the basecamp, St John’s College, prior to the expedition. Courses will include a first aid review covering climate and safety conditions in The Bahamas, a water safety course and a presentation by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).
Seventy-three participants are out to receive their Gold Award which demands a four-day/three-night journey with a minimum 32 hours of purposeful effort.
For expeditioners, the day will begin at 5 a.m. with lights out at 10 p.m. The expedition on Cat Island will run from Thursday, August 1, to Sunday, August 5. Participants will travel to and from Cat Island onboard the M/V Day Break.
Going out for her Gold Award is Presley Godet, a rising twelfth grader from St Anne’s. She has come a long way from her Bronze qualifying expedition in Eleuthera three years ago when the journey felt like a week, but in reality took only two days.
“I want to see how far I can push myself, how far I can go,” said the 17-year-old who carried out her Silver-qualifying adventurous journey in Andros.
“Most times you travel to a Family Island you stay in a hotel or with family and friends, with GGYA you stay in environments that are outside the norm and the experience offers an entirely different perspective.”
Joining her is Michael Thompson, a rising twelfth grader at C.C. Sweeting High School who got a taste for the outdoors through his involvement in the Boy’s Club while growing up in South Florida.
An athlete, who runs long distance track, plays soccer and baseball, Thompson isn’t breaking a sweat about how he’ll fare during the grueling expedition. Through his involvement in the programme he has grown accustomed to stepping outside his comfort zone.
“This programme has forced me to open up to others, take more of a leadership role in school and focus more on my school work,” said the high honour roll student. “Before you become a leader you’re a follower and this programme helped me to tap into my leadership potential.”
Gold level participant Michael Thompson, Leader in Training Iesha Dawkins and Gold level participant Presley Godet.
Expedition Leader Jacquetta Maycock
Members of GGYA's CASC contingent
Photos courtesy of Precision Media