The British Virgin Island is one of the most popular and beloved Caribbean destinations for youth summer camps. Every year we have routinely attracted flotillas of yachts crowded with teenagers in the summer months, from the end of June through the end of August. One thing is very clear; the kids have a blast. As it happened my then 14 year old daughter Amanda had just completed a basic scuba diving course with the local Dive Company and was anxious to continue and learn and enjoy more. I broached the subject to her, about signing up for a two week summer camp aboard a flotilla yacht, and was delighted when she jumped at the chance. Amanda has lived in the islands all her life and I expected a somewhat less enthusiastic response; after all, over familiarity sometimes breeds contempt.
I had met SeaTrekBVI director, Monk Daniel, here on the island and expressed Amanda’s interest and this led to a stream of online communications. The more we examined the programme and its itinerary the more we all became excited about it.
Amanda joined her yacht, a 45-ft four cabin catamaran at the Moorings in Road Town. There was a designated captain/instructor on each boat as well as a student counselor/marine biologist. Students were allotted their cabin space and then immediately put to work stowing supplies, topping off the water tanks, trying on their snorkeling kit etc. It’s amazing how groups of children in this environment co-operate so well together, all anticipating fun and adventure. The flotilla consisted of four yachts with approximately ten teenagers on each. I gave Captain Monk a copy of my husband Julian Putley’s book Baths and a copy of The Virgins’ Treasure Isle book to be shared amongst the boats.
One of the advantageous things about summer sailing vacations in the BVI is that the winds are usually calmer while the sea can be crystal clear and the water temperature in the comfortable mid 80s, a scuba diver’s dream. Not only that, but fun water sports like snorkeling, wakeboarding, SUP, kayaking and tubing are all the more exhilarating on flat water. We didn’t hear from Amanda for several days but when the flotilla came back to the base for water tank replenishment it was obvious that she was having the time of her life.
“Mom, I dove the red cargo boat, Inganess Bay in Wreck Alley,” she said excitedly. “It’s over 60-ft down. There was a huge puffer fish in the wheel house. Four of us dove together; it was so cool!” Amanda was well on her way to completing more than ten dives that would result in her achieving Advanced Scuba Diver and Rescue Diver up to 25 feet, all by the age of 14!
Now it’s 2013 and Amanda is in boarding school in wet and chilly North West England. She recently visited Colin, a Sea Trek friend, in London. She’ll be back in the BVI for summer holidays and we’ve just booked her on a Sea Trek summer camp so she can advance her scuba skills to an even higher level. Brother Jason won’t be left out either. He’s booked for his own programme and can’t wait to get his open water scuba qualification.
With all that fun and the sun in the Caribbean one needs to protect themselves from the UV sunrays. Wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants and a hat outdoors is a great idea and a good quality sun block at hand is a must. Sun block and sunglasses for protection from harmful effects of UV sunrays are also very important things to bring along for your summer vacation. Forgetting to buy a bottle of sun block could be disastrous mistake.
*Please read your sun block label to avoid buying a screen with dangerous ingredients. Retinyl palmitate (Vitamin A) may cause lesions to develop more quickly when skin is exposed to the sun.” Oxybenzone is linked to hormone disruption and can cause allergic reactions.