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  • Lianna Burrows

A Day in the Life of our Summer Camp Leaders

Updated: Aug 31, 2022

Ever wonder what it's like to lead a Friends of the Environment summer camp? We often get asked "how do you do it?" or "what's the secret?". Truth be told, it takes a strong team of support from fellow Staff and Board members, partners, teachers, principals, interns, volunteers, community members and so much more. Take a look into Summer Camp 2022 from the perspective of our Education Officer, our Summer Interns, and our Outreach Coordinator.

From our Education Officer

It is a grueling hot day and we (Lianna and I) are working cleaning up and reorganizing our educational storage spaces at the Frank Kenyon Center. A thought crosses my mind, " Boy!, The Bahamas doesn't love its people" and I chuckle to myself. No this isn't a political statement; instead this is how camper Eryn Auguste expresses how he felt about the temperature outside on a hot summer camp day in Cooper's Town.

Lyndeisha Curry, Education Officer

When I first heard him make this statement I was very confused, so I asked him to explain. He proceeded to tell me that The Bahamas couldn't possibly love its people if it is this hot outside with no breeze blowing. I was so amused by the expression and explanation that the phrase stuck with me. I can only hope that Eryn and the other 96 campers were so enthused by something I said that it would "stick" with them too. Six weeks, 97 campers, and three communities later and here I am reflecting on FRIENDS' annual summer camp and our impact on the students, the parents and their communities. Everyday we got up and prepared to rock and roll; introducing students to new information, new ecosystems, and new adventures! Mangroves, coral reefs, blue holes, pine forests, seagrass beds and sandy beaches, all important Bahamian ecosystems; we learned and we explored. Often providing first time opportunities for a number of campers despite everyone's proximity to these ecosystems. It was often as exhausting as it was exhilarating but it was all very worth it!

"Summer camp is indeed a labour of love" - Lyndeisha Curry, Education Officer

Summer camp is indeed a labour of love from the preparation of the curriculum, the compiling of resources, identifying interns to lend helping hands, daily lessons and field trips, fun games and activities and of course cleaning up! It is an awesome opportunity to be a part of a team that facilitates these experiences and a sense of fulfillment washes over you knowing that you were able to share your passion and perhaps spark it in another.

From our interns: Interview Style

  • Tell us your name, age, and where you are currently living

Brad: My name is Brad Cooper Jr. I am 18 years old, and I currently reside in North Abaco.

Jerai: My name is Jerai Brennen, I am 20 years old, and I currently live in New Providence.

  • How long have you been involved in FRIENDS’ programs?

Brad: I am currently a second-year student Majoring in Environmental Science. I’ve been involved with the Friends of the Environment programs for about nine years now, where I started as student in the after-school clubs.

Jerai Brennen, Summer Intern with one of our "Sea Bean" campers

Jerai: I’ve associated with FRIENDS’ since about the 10th grade doing mangroves.

  • Why did you apply to be an intern with us?

Brad: Even though it was one of my college graduation requirements, I’ve always wanted to help children find joy in taking care of the environment as I did growing up while attending the after-school clubs.

Jerai: I applied for this internship because I saw it as an opportunity to reconnect with the environment and learn even more about it.

"My most memorable experience was the whole experience." - Jerai Brennen, Summer Intern
  • Tell us about your role as an intern. What did a typical day look like?

Brad: My typical day as intern began by setting up the classroom according to the days lesson. While the lesson was being taught, my fellow interns and I would gather materials for that day’s field trip. After arriving to the site, we were divided into smaller groups led by an intern or teacher. During these activities, we supervise our groups to ensure that they

are staying on track and completing the task. At the end of the field trip, we would then head back to camp to wrap up that day’s lesson and ask students questions about what they learnt that day.

Brad Cooper Jr., Summer Intern

Jerai: My role as an intern was pretty straightforward. Every morning we would begin with a mini game with the campers and then after that's done, we get into the lesson of the environment for the day. Following that, we did an activity, snack, another activity or craft, lunch and then a field trip to the environment. We would visit the mangroves, coral reef, seagrass bed, sandy/rocky shores then the blue holes.

"I was able to sense their excitement as some of them were about to swim at a coral reef for the first time." - Brad Cooper Jr., Summer Intern

  • What was your most memorable experience during your internship?

Brad: My most memorable experience was taking a group of students to snorkel on Mermaids Reef. I was able to sense their excitement as some of them were about to swim at a coral reef for the first time.

Jerai: I would say my most memorable experience was the whole experience. Being able to meet new kids going into each environment and working alongside everyone to make the camp a successful one. I would say anyone who has a keen interest in the environment should consider working with FRIENDS’ - its a really great opportunity to be closer and study more about the environment.

From our Outreach Coordinator

Summer camp has looked so different for us over the past few years. From virtual camp in 2020, to being shut down (due to COVID restrictions) in 2021, to finally having a normal, fun, in-person summer camp for six full weeks in 2022. It's hard to find the words to explain how accomplished we felt to complete a full summer camp season for the first time since 2019. While this came with much excitement, it also brought that "summer camp exhaustion" that we hadn't felt in three years.

Lianna Burrows, Outreach Coordinator with campers in Sawmill Sink Blue Hole

It was the fifth week of summer camp and we were in beautiful Sandy Point, Abaco when that exhaustion really began to set in for me. Each week we had a similar schedule, and although we had a different group every week, sometimes it felt as though it was getting repetitive. I often found myself asking Lyndeisha "do you think they're having fun??" just because I worried that perhaps the campers already knew this information, or perhaps they'd visited this place before. As we were walking behind the kids after visiting the mangroves in Sandy Point, I overheard camper Sabrina Bain exclaim to her friend "this is the best day ever!!!". My heart burst with joy and automatically trumped all of those negative, exhausted thoughts in my head.

"We are honoured to be a part of their story." - Lianna Burrows, Outreach Coordinator

71% of our campers this year were first time campers. By the end of each week, we knew them all too well and thoroughly enjoyed all of the questions, activities, laughs, stories and jam sessions in the vans. Having the privilege to teach the next generation of Bahamians about their environment and why it's important to care for it is something we don't take lightly. We are honoured to be a part of their story and hope to see them in future programs with us. Summer camp takes a ton of preparation, planning, organizing, communication, and so much more. Oftentimes when raising kids a popular phrase you hear is "it takes a village". That phrase speaks so much truth to our summer camp program being so successful. If you are reading this, I'm sure you are part of this "village" too, so thank you!

Check out some photos in this slideshow from Summer Camp 2022.

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