Over the mid-term break Island School hosted an overnight leadership development retreat on our campus for the Young Men’s Leadership Program (YMLP).
The first session started as soon as the boys had settled into the dorms, with a lionfish dissection. This invasive species, native to the Indo-Pacific region is prevalent in Bahamian waters. After learning about the menace this species is to the ecosystem the boys completed a lionfish dissection, learning about their anatomy and which spines are venomous and how to safely remove them.
The first morning brought a unique set of challenges. Our days began early and at a high intensity. Following prayer, the national anthem and and a pledge, we started morning exercise with swimming drills. The boys were coached and encouraged to refine their strokes under the watchful eyes of Stan Burnside and Chris Maxey. Once the boys got their strokes down and became comfortable in the water, we had a relay race.
After warming back up and eating breakfast, we had our first classroom session. During this time, we focused on the core value of YMLP “personal resolve”, the boys were taught the importance of being in charge of their own stories and the dangers of a single narrative. Following guided reflection and journaling the boys shared important stories from their lives.
The third day kicked off with the Island School’s most iconic morning exercise activity: the run-swim. In this grueling event the boys were guided through a course composed of running, jumping, swimming, climbing and much more. While each participant is encouraged to push themselves, the run-swim is actually a team sport as we start as a group and finish as a group, motivating each other along the way. After this endeavor, we worked on leadership skills. They boys went through drills that strengthened communication, responsibility and teamwork. Following these exercises the boys were treated with a sail to the Schooner Cays. The boys learned about the geology of the area while doing everything from raising the sails and steering the boat to dropping the anchor, getting their first taste of this often forgotten mode of transportation.
The last night was filled with reflection around the bonfire. Many of the boys expressed that they wished they could stay longer at the camp as it had come and gone so quickly. These feelings quickly turned to motivation and excitement as they realized that this is but the first of many retreats and adventures that they will embark on. It was truly a weekend to remember for everyone involved.