Youths work to qualify for GGYA Award in Exuma
Published: Jul 03, 2013
Through wind, rain and a swarm of mosquitoes, 60 youths from across The Bahamas are hard at work in Exuma hoping to qualify for either a Silver, or Gold Award from the Governor General's Youth Award.
The 2013 Bahamas Award Scheme Expedition (BASE) started on Monday, June 24 and culminates on Friday, July 5. It is designed to foster cooperation, insightfulness, resourcefulness, innovation and community-mindedness amongst youths between the ages 14 and 25.
Participants hoping to obtain the Silver Award must complete a 30-mile hike while those vying for Gold must backpack a minimum of 50 miles.
The GGYA's adventurous journey caps off months of participants engaging in physical recreation, community service and skill development activities.
It took six months for those vying for the Silver Award to get to this point and they must successfully complete a three-day, two-night expedition.
Meanwhile, it took 12 long months for Silver Award holders pursuing Gold to get to this final hurdle. In order to be successful, they must undertake an adventurous journey lasting four days and three nights. They must also complete a second expedition over five days and four nights.
Since 1992, BASE has encouraged young people to be disciplined and responsible, while providing opportunities for achievement and fulfillment in challenging situations.
GGYA's national executive director, Denise Mortimer said that BASE will also provide participants with an opportunity to learn more about their country and Exuma, particularly the island's history, settlements and community life.
"They will have an opportunity to not only attain team building and leadership skills but also to experience life on a different island, developing an appreciation for all things Bahamian," said Mortimer.
Nassau participants were transported to Georgetown via the M/V Sea Wind, marking the start of their 12-day adventure. Spirits remained high the first few hours as participants mixed and mingled with each other and the staff. As the sun set, rounds of cards and dominoes games gave way to snores as the youths made themselves comfortable as best they could, enduring the bumpy ride through the Exuma Sound.
A church service at Christ Community Church kicked off the grueling adventure.
Organizers wasted no time in having the youths undergo a number of training sessions prior to their respective qualifying trek. Participants had to prepare a map of the route. They were advised to pack only the essentials. The weight of their backpacks should typically be between 20 to 30 percent of their body weight.
Youths traveled from their main resting point at the L.N. Coakley High School in Moss Town to Mount Thompson, and back to the high school. They passed through settlements such as Richmond Hill, Steventon, Rolleville and Stuart Manor.
Participants also had an opportunity to visit historic sites such as Steventon's jail house, the Pompey statue and slave houses.
The youth participants also conducted a community service project at the L.N. Coakley High School, clearing overgrown bushes around the track and field area and the volleyball and basketball courts. They also re-marked the courts.
Similar to other expeditions, participants are encircled by a safety net of 20 trained, GGYA support staff, the majority of whom have completed a first responders course. A medic also traveled with the group on the journey.
This year marks the end of a partnership between the GGYA and the government to develop the youth award program into one that was more national in its reach.
The three-year partnership was titled the G.O.L.D Initiative, an acronym based on the Ministry of Youth, Sports & Culture's mandate to instill greatness, provide opportunities, develop leadership and support development amongst the nation's youths.
The partnership paved the way for GGYA to register more youths and disburse more Awards than ever before in its 26-year history.