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Duke Of Edinburgh International Award ccontinues strong this academic year

Community 14 Feb, 2024 Follow News

Bronze Blue Team

Bronze Red Team

Eager Silver participants head off to the Brac

The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Cayman Islands got off to a strong start in Term One of the 2023-2024 school year. In October and November a total of 25 young people trained and then completed their Bronze and Silver expeditions/adventurous journeys. The expeditions are one of the four sections participants must complete to qualify for their award. The other sections include: a Skill, Physical and Service.

Following the completion of the expeditions, the 25 students came together at Cayman Prep and High School Hall and presented to a captive audience of family and friends, very entertaining and engaging Power Point presentations. These presentations highlighted the route and aims, lessons learned, challenges, skills developed and lasting memories and friendships built during these demanding and character shaping expeditions. Prior to embarking on each expedition, both groups were required to complete training sessions over the course of Saturdays. These were done under the supervision of their Adventurous Journey trainers and assessors.

When their big day came, 16 Bronze participants traveled in two teams of eight and undertook a two-day one-night Adventurous Journey (AJ) on a hot weekend in October. The route chosen for this expedition was in the Eastern Districts starting in Breakers walking to North Side via the Mastic Trail on day one. On Day two they hiked from North Side to Heritage Beach in Cottage with a stop at the Botanic Park en route. The goal for the groups was to observe and record the native flora and fauna and to consider human impact on these. Each team was required to complete 6 hours of planned activities each day by foot, be self -reliant in setting up camp, cooking their meals. and cleaning up the campsite..

Year 13 St. Ignatius student, Micah Leon shared the following observations. Our Duke of Edinburgh expedition was an adventurous journey filled with unexpected challenges and valuable learning experiences. We acquired awesome shots of the wildlife at the Botanic Garden, Mastic Trail and on our route along the coast to the camp site. These include shots of Baby Lobsters, Hermit Crabs, Sea Grape Trees, Hibiscus Plants and our Beloved Blue Iguanas. We also gained insight on how the atmosphere in the Eastern Districts differed to the more central districts of the Island w here we spend most of our time. One memorable incident was when we accidentally got lost along the Mastic Trail. This setback provided us with an opportunity to practice our compass skills and navigate our way back on track despite enduring the constant annoyance of being chased by mosquitoes, the scorching heat of the sun, and the rain pouring on us while in the Trail. However, we persevered and successfully completed our expedition. Overall, this expedition taught us the importance of adaptability, teamwork, and resilience in the face of adversity.

The 16 students all successfully completed their two-day Adventurous Journey October 7-8. 

The three-day two-night Silver Expedition took place over the long weekend of November 11-13 in Cayman Brac. One of the St. Ignatius students summarized her experience this way:

On Saturday morning at 5:55 AM, none of us could’ve guessed the wild adventures that would unfold in Cayman Brac over the next 3 days. After a bumpy plane ride, we got our 30lb bags and started on our 7-hour journey for the day. We were met with the painful realisation that our speaker didn’t work, and we wouldn’t have music to power us along. Fortunately, our group of 9 was filled with hilarious and warm people who ensured we were never without a laugh. A few caves, snack breaks and explorative ventures later, the rain came.

We slowly made our way up what seemed like the steepest road ever and waited it out at Christopher Columbus Botanic Gardens. After we made our dinner and set up camp, it wasn’t long before we went to bed. 2 hours later, what started off as a slight drizzle turned into a major storm of thunder and lightning which flooded our tents and sent us and our bags soaking wet into the emergency hurricane shelter for refuge. Despite this, we responded with a group laugh and got to work with how to adapt. The next morning, we started at 4AM and set out on our 12-hour long journey around the island, up the Bluff and back to camp. We stopped at Peter’s Cave and after a long hike, we were rewarded with a gorgeous view of the Brac.

Unfortunately, the long monotonous walk back to camp wasn’t as scenic, but we made up for it of course with our jokes and questionable singing. Before we went to bed we played a game of Uno, which was... eventful to say the least. Coupled with blisters and sore muscles, we embarked on our last day at 5AM and slowly made our way to the end point. After a few stops at beaches, Bat Cave and Mr. Foot’s House, we reached the finish line after 5 hours. Thankfully we were also met with doughnuts and A/C. Although this expedition was tough, both mentally and physically, we never at any point stopped being a team, and we truly enjoyed and cherished every bit of it.

We would like to thank the community for their invaluable and continued support:  St. Ignatius Catholic School, John Lawrus at the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park, William Pouchie Memorial Church, Cayman Prep and High School, and the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service.   

The Duke of Edinburgh International Award which has been operating in the Cayman Islands for the past 55 years owes a debt of gratitude to the ongoing commitment of its dedicated volunteer leaders. The current team of volunteers and trainers is headed up by Mrs. Jennifer Allen, Adventurous Journey (AJ) leader. Mr. Peter Halford, AJ Assistant leader. Mr. James Fletcher, AJ Assessor. Other valuable volunteers for this expedition were: Amy Bothwell, Wendy Stenning, David Mitchell, Chauntae Stewart and Gerry Robinson.

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