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Teenagers enjoy tall ship experience

Sailors: Gershonae Tait and Ronica Campbell

A tall ship experience last summer showed the value of teamwork for two teenagers.

Gershonae Tait and Ronica Campbell, both 17, set sail from Quebec to Halifax in late July.

The weeklong trip aboard the Gulden Leeuw — one of the world’s largest three-mast topsail schooners built in 1937 — was the first time either teen had been on a tall ship. It was also their first visit to Canada.

While both described the trip as a great experience, Gershonae admitted she had initially been apprehensive about life at sea.

She said: “When we first got on the boat I was pretty scared to take my bags down.”

However, the initial apprehension quickly passed.

Gershonae said: “Once you get on there, you get used to it. You know where everything is. It’s not even really that big.”

Eight young people were among the crew of several dozen people. Life on the boat involved constant chores.

Gershonae said: “You were always put to work doing something.”

Regular tasks included rope work, navigation, cooking, and cleaning — referred to on-board as “happy hour”. Both girls enjoyed getting to know the people they worked and lived alongside.

Ronica said: “The best part was when everyone came together.”

Watching movies as a group, she said, was a highlight.

Gershonae said the experience taught her how to be a team player.

She added: “You have to work together.”

The experience was made possible by HSBC, which provided sponsorship to the Family Centre’s Youth Leadership Academy that focuses on at-risk youth that are unlikely to participate in other youth programmes. Both girls have been part of the programme for several years.

Gershonae said it had helped her to find work.

She added: “Even before the jobs, they helped me with community service — because in order to get a job you have to complete a certain amount of community service hours.”

Ronica said the programme offered a helping hand providing skills.

Ronica is studying nursing at Bermuda College. The Pembroke resident said she planned to pursue more schooling in North Carolina after completing her programme here.

Devonshire resident Gershonae is in her final year at CedarBridge Academy. She said she plans to stay here for a year of Bermuda College before looking at schooling in Canada.

She said she is ultimately interested in a career in forensic science.

Both girls agreed the early-morning boat work was not something they enjoyed.

However Ronica added: “Mind you I would do it again. It was really nice.”

Both said they are taking part in a boat trip to Europe set for next summer.