In its first weekend away expedition of the year, 71 young people in the Governor General’s Youth Award (GGYA) gained knowledge, broadened their horizons and accumulated diverse experiences while hiking the longest island in The Bahamas. Some took the opportunity to explore the shoreline of Eleuthera’s famous Lighthouse Point. “It’s fun to see other beaches, ecosystems and mangrove swamps outside of Nassau since I haven’t been to many islands,” said Dominique Bowleg, a student of C R Walker. A member of the school’s Environmental Club, the academic science student loves learning about different species living in an ecosystem. “My participation in GGYA takes the learning experience from theory to practical. Doing this I learn more and can share my knowledge with my environmental science peers. Together we learn and expand our knowledge,” said the eleventh grader pursuing Silver, from the internationally recognized Award programme. Over the mid-term break, GGYA, which promotes positive informal education through an experienced based learning approach whisked 47 Silver and 24 Gold-level participants, along with 16 supervisors to the slinky, two-mile wide island of Eleuthera.
The contingent left the capital Friday, from Potter’s Cay Dock aboard the M/V President Taylor, for a Silver-qualifying adventurous journey and a Gold Award practice expedition. Bowleg was one of 14 Silver participants to complete the Lighthouse Point exploration. Comprised of three levels (Bronze, Silver and Gold) and four sections (Service, Skills, Physical Recreation and Adventurous Journey), the Award is designed to provide a balanced programme of personal development to anyone aged between 14 and 24. At the Silver level, the Adventurous Journey (hiking component) lasts three days and two nights. While at the Gold level the duration is four days and three nights. Young persons came from C V Bethel, Aquinas College, Queen’s College, Jordan Prince William andCR Walker. A structured, voluntary programme, GGYA breaks youths away from isolation and even alienation, helping to develop social skills. “I gained so much outdoor experience during the time I’ve camped out through GGYA,” said Leonardo Hidalgo, a student of Queen’s College. “Nowadays people like me, our youths, we don’t seek interest in pursuing outdoor activities.”
A Gold level participant who volunteers with Red Cross and plays rugby and volleyball, the twelfth grader sees a need for fostering “good chemistry” between young persons from diverse background. “That’s what we need to have in society these days,” he said. “This GGYA programme could really benefit all of us.” Alton Roker, a student of Prince William Jordan High, said his time with the programme has highlighted the value of teamwork as well as the commitment and responsibility to others and to oneself. “This trip, it’s tough being the only boy in my unit, which means I have to watch over all the girls from my class,” said the eleventh grader who has matured during his time spent in the GGYA, learning to accept more personal responsibility. During his Bronze qualifying expedition, Roker admits he forgot to bring along bug spray, long pants, a jacket, and cap. “I had the checklist but did not pay attention to the details,” said the track athlete and basketball player. “I made it through Bronze only because I wasn’t giving up. What I love most about GGYA is that it gets me outdoors, away from my phone and electronics and next to nature.”