Fortune favours the brave
As the sun set and the cockroaches swarmed, Eva O’Connor wondered if she had made the right choice.
She was spending the night in the middle of a field in Dockyard, having signed up for a two-week camp with Raleigh International called I Am Brave.
“We set up our tents, which were ponchos with stakes in them,” the 14-year-old said.
“I thought we would have the pop-up tents, but that wasn’t the case. I thought, ‘This is a little more than I have experienced before.’
“I think I must have put my tent up in a cockroach nest. I was freaked out. I thought the ‘brave’ part would be more physical and trekking and stuff like that. I didn’t think it meant: you will be scared of bugs, and will have to suck it up.”
Today, she can laugh about the experience.
“When you are with everyone, it becomes more funny than upsetting,” the Warwick Academy student said.
“Everything turns into a joke.”
The July camp was the first for kids between the ages of 14 and 17 that Raleigh had held here.
On offer were life and survival skills taught in preparation for the next phase of Raleigh when students face more intensive training in anticipation of adventure and community service in Nepal, Costa Rica or Tanzania.
Under the guidance of executive director Dany Pen, programme co-ordinator Keri Pacheco and project managers Justin Cann and Ashanti Stovell, Eva and 12 other students walked, snorkelled, and learnt how to budget, forage for food and cook.
Ms Pen had a good laugh when, told pizza was on the menu, one teen asked if they were getting takeout.
“When they said pizza would be provided I didn’t realise they meant we would be [making] it,” Eva said.
They made dough at the Raleigh office in Hamilton, using flour, water, salt, baking soda and Italian seasoning. The mix was then added to the 50lbs of items in their rucksacks which they carried, on the ferry and as they trekked from Dockyard to Watford Bridge and back, roughly 3.7 miles.
At their campsite, they set up a collapsible stove, fried the dough and added tomato sauce and cheese.
“Mine was hard to look at,” said Berkeley Institute student Elijah Samuels, 16.
“I put too much on there. Some of it was burnt and some was underdone.”
For many, it was the first time they had cooked.
Elijah said: “It was very fun. I met some new people. The trekking was fun although the bag was a little heavy.”
Trinidadian Hillary Coddington arrived on the island four years ago. The camp helped her get to know Bermuda’s plants and history. “I learnt that cherry leaves are good,” the 16-year-old said.
“If you rub them on your skin no mosquitoes will come around you. Then I learnt a fun fact about hibiscus — you can blow up the petals.”
The Berkeley Institute student also went snorkelling for the first time.
“That was hard,” she said. “I expected the tube to be way longer. I wanted to get down low and I couldn’t see anything. And all the water was going into the tube and choking me.”
For some, perseverance was their biggest achievement.
“I could have stopped at any moment on that trek,” said Hillary, who instead made the decision to keep walking.
Eva learnt the importance of staying positive.
“When you have the big bag on you and your legs hurt and it is hot, it is easy to complain,” she said. “But that makes everyone miserable. We all had a talk about not complaining, because it drags everyone down, and making conversation when everything seems negative.”
Christianna Warren, 15, enjoyed foraging for edible plants at Spittal Pond.
“My guess is no one knew we had these items here, like wild spinach,” she said.
Eva was surprised by purslane: “I thought I would have to put up with the taste. I didn’t think I would actually enjoy it.”
The camp was the start of a yearlong course. The students meet with Raleigh organisers once a month to do community service and work on life skills.
Ms Pen said they had all gained confidence in themselves and their capabilities.
“It is not just about going into the wilderness,” she said. “It is how can you not just survive but thrive.”
• Learn more about Raleigh International at raleigh.bm
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