This blog was written by the 18 incredible students visiting us from Maine. Campus Life
The Island School/CEI is located in Cape Eleuthera. The campus faces the water with exotic beaches and fish-filled boat launches as a part of its grounds. Everything about the campus is energy efficient, from its compost at meals to their homemade biodiesel for the vans. The food waste is fed to the pigs on campus and the rest is composted and used for their gardens. The gardens are then used for meals creating the basis of permaculture. We’ve already become aware of the energy we waste every day and can’t wait to put our new energy efficient methods to use at home.
A big part of our experience here on Eleuthera has been conducting research through the Cape Eleuthera Institute (CEI). Our Camden Hills students have been split into three different research groups, led by CEI researchers: conch, bonefish (field), and another bonefish team (lab). The Oceanside-Medomak students are studying patch reefs, and the effects of their complexity on the abundance of fish. All four groups will be presenting their findings to an audience of peers, interns, researchers, graduate students, and staff next week.
Morning Exercise (AMX)
Everyone wakes up for morning exercise at 6:30am. We’ve participated in a run-swim, snorkeled a wreck, Govia, and beach volleyball. The run-swim was when we alternate between running and swimming between the cuts near the Cape Eleuthera Marina with aerobics in between. Chris Maxey, the founder of the Island School, led the run-swim and it was awesome! We snorkeled a sunken motor boat with lots of coral and fish diversity. Govia was a circuit of jumping off a bridge and swimming 300 yards then exiting the water and running the 300 yards back to the start. We liked the Govia and the run-swim best because they were more athletically challenging. Morning exercise helps energize us for the day and keep spirits high.
Looking below us as we flew to Cape Eleuthera from Nassau we noticed the clear, shallow water and white sand bars. We all love the clear water of the Caribbean but most of the time donʼt think about why the water is so different in this part of the Atlantic than further north like where we live in coastal Maine. We learned that the water is low in nutrients and microscopic plants and animals like zooplankton. We have been snorkeling and diving at several different reefs and have seen a plethora of fascinating species that inhabit these waters. Weʼve seen big-eyed squirrelfish, colorful queen angelfish, and both lemon and nurse sharks! All of these animals are new to us and we have been learning as much as we can about them. After we listened to a presentation on sharks and discussed the dermal denticles that make up their exterior, some of us had the opportunity the next day to feel for ourselves when we seine netted for bonefish and caught five tagged lemon sharks.
From the very beginning on the bus one could discern that the group experienced isolation from each other, afraid to speak or take action. As the trip progresses, slowly, but surely, each kid opened up to each other not only in the different groups, but eventually to everyone. First step, exposure, each kid was forced to step out of his/her comfort square with the group activities. During these activities, we ran, swam, chaffed, lifted rocks, danced, sang, and washed dishes together. Because of these activities we learned how to communicate effectively and overcome our fear of social interaction. Barriers between one another were broken and now we have friendships that will last a lifetime.
Exploration time at the Island School has been a unique and memorable experience. We have participated in a variety of activities including icebreaker games, snorkel trips, bike rides, and other adventures. One of our favorite exploration time actives was biking to the marina to get ice cream and then traveling to the beach to swim in the rain. Another was a surprise sunset cruise on the Maxeys’ catamaran. Along with those were trips to some amazing snorkel spots including "Something to Sea" and "Cathedral" where some students were able to scuba dive. One day was dedicated just to exploration time where we explored a cave, went to the beautiful Club Med beach, and jumped into the Rock Sound Ocean Hole. Exploration time is probably one of our favorite times of the day because it is very fun and has made us a closer knit group.