Location: West End, Tortola

When they say time flies when you’re having fun, they sure aren’t lying. These past 20 days have just flown by. Each day is filled with new, exciting and rewarding activities, which leaves little time for reflection. Now that we are winding down it has given us time to look back on all the projects we have had the opportunity to be a part of this summer. From planting and monitoring mangroves, turtle tagging, working with the local island kids from the Jost Van Dyke Preservation Society and YEP (Youth Empowerment Project), to beach clean-ups and helping VISAR (Virgin Island Search and rescue) with some clean up, organization and dredging, the students have thrown themselves into each project with a great attitude. Allie has been a huge help throughout the past three weeks, especially with cooking and cleaning! Her French Toast is AMAZING! Lara has grown during her time here, trying new things and overcoming fears. She used to be afraid of swimming in the ocean, and now she is constantly wanting to go snorkeling to look for nurse sharks. If anything needs to get done around the boat I know we can count on Lili; she is always reading and willing to help! She also helped all the shipmates make their Turks head bracelets and anklets; she’s a pro with knots and braids. Caroline’s laugh was always able to brighten anyone’s day. Her constant curiosity kept things fresh. I’ve never met anyone who loves the water more than Elizabeth. She could live in the water as long as she had a snorkel and a white sandy beach to lay out on. If you needed a friend, Claire was your go-to. She was a friend to everyone and was able to make connections easily with the Jost and YEP students during projects. Adam was always there with a crazy impression to make us all laugh. His music helped to keep morale up during long projects. Zach put his all into everything he did and was great at getting everyone excited about projects. Being a returning shipmate, Brendan was a huge help explaining the projects to shipmates. He loves sailing, and you could tell during our fun day when he took the other shipmates out and taught them how to Pico sail! Jacob always had a positive attitude and was a great person to go to when you needed a good ear to listen. Ben taught us all new English slang terms, which we all loved. He loved turtle tagging and was quick to jump in whenever a turtle was spotted. Michael got to show off his baking skills and taught us all how to be true to ourselves. Tucker was always there with a joke timed just right. His knowledge of fish and sailing was apparent throughout the trip, and you could tell it was something he was interested in. Throughout the trip, we have gone from shipmates to family, each personality bringing something to the table, working and playing together as a cohesive unit to get projects done and enjoy our downtime. We, the staff, are so proud of our shipmates and the effort they have put forth this session. We are sad to see them leave, but we are confident they are leaving with an abundance of knowledge and valuable skills that they have gained from investing themselves into each project, along with some great memories of course! They may not realize just yet how much they have done for the community during their time here in the BVI’s, but soon when they have time to reflect they will feel just as proud as we do.