“Participating in the Award has helped to develop my social skills and taught me that there is more to life than what meets the eye”
Kojo Darrell, Silver Award participant from The Berkeley Institute
Kojo was one of eight young people from The Berkeley Institute and Warwick Academy who recently completed a five-day circumnavigation of the island on board Spirit of Bermuda as part of the group’s qualifying adventurous journey while working towards completion of their Silver level of the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award.
The group also included Amirh Wade, Brianna Simmons, Chayah Guishard, Jordyn Richardson, K’ari Bean, Ronee Jennings and Ryley Mason.
Each adventurous journey for the Award is centred around a purpose and the purpose of this Silver voyage was to study marine conservation with a specific focus on plastics and debris in our local waters and their effects on the Sargasso Sea.
K’ari said one of her best memories from the voyage was snorkelling at various spots around the island and taking note of how the texture of the ocean floor changes depending on location. Not only did they collect debris from the water and the shoreline, but she said seeing Bermuda from under water was thrilling and serene.
Another favourite of the group was the educational aspect of learning about marine conservation through hands-on experiences and Ocean Vet videos featuring the late Neil Burnie. The team also launched a special net behind the boat and trawled for microplastics. The participants were amazed at the enormous amount of tiny plastic particles that are not visible to the naked eye, but are consistently present in the ocean.
These plastics, discarded by man and broken down over time by the forces of Mother Nature, eventually wind up being consumed by the marine life, much of which ends up in the human food chain through our consumption of fish and other species that are sourced from the ocean.
Overall, the voyage was an eye-opener on many different levels for our young “Dukers” and among the numerous benefits of their participation in the Award programme, the opportunity to sail with and learn from the crew on Spirit of Bermuda established a new-found appreciation for mankind’s care of and preservation of the ocean and all of the life that is contained within it.
Everyone enjoyed developing new skills during the voyage, including how to tie proper nautical knots, put up sails to power the boat by wind, read marine maps, navigate on the water, and how to interpret various factors when dropping anchor, like considering wind direction, water depth, cloud cover, the types of clouds that are present and atmospheric pressure.
New adventures unveiled themselves with the stroke of every wave with everything from seeing glow worms in their natural habitat, to learning how to read the constellations under the beautifully clear sky off Bermuda’s shores, to exploring Bermuda’s coral reefs for the first time.
The participants also discovered more about themselves and each other during their time at sea.
Chayah said: “I learnt to put my all into everything I do to get the best results. I also learnt perseverance and grit, which taught me to never give up and this will help me in the future with the amount of effort I put into everything.”
Amirh noted that she can “push herself harder and farther than she thought because when she’s tired is when perseverance counts the most”.
Brianna discovered that she is “open to doing more things and conquering her fears”. She added that “each new achievement builds her self-confidence”.
Ryley learnt that she is “a very patient person and she has good critical thinking skills”, something that has been enhanced through her participation in the Award.
The group noted that bonding with their peers and crew from Spirit was phenomenal and was enhanced by the opportunities to work closely with each other throughout the duration of the voyage.
“Our group is amazing, especially now that we’ve expanded with a few new members this year. We have bonded more through our Duke of Edinburgh training this year and from spending five days on the ocean together in close quarters,” said Amirh, Brianna and Ronee.
“Completing the Award together has forged strong friendships that will last a lifetime.”
Thank you to the adult volunteers who worked through training this group and supervising their qualifying voyage: Jovanna Douglas, Conor McLaughlin, Jason Rhind, Lauren Yelle-Simmons, and the entire crew of Spirit of Bermuda.
The collaboration between The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and Spirit of Bermuda is proving to be extremely beneficial for a diverse group of young people from across the island. We are grateful for this budding partnership and look forward to more successful joint ventures in the future.
Get involved with the Award and make a difference in changing the lives of Bermuda’s youth!
The International Award programme in Bermuda is available free of charge to everyone between the ages of 14 to 24, and the exclusive Bermuda Bridge Award is offered in partnership with the Department of Education to all M2 and M3 public school students.
•Traci Burgess is national director of The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Bermuda. Contact the Award Office for additional details on programmes, volunteering and alumni events on 537-4868 or at email@example.com, or see the website at theaward.bm