Every semester, Island School students have the opportunity to learn more from the people and natural environment that are part of the island of Eleuthera by venturing off the Cape for what is called a “down island trip.” During the summer term, the students take a course on the Bahamian history of tourism and development during their 3-day roadtrip. The team packs their camping gear, snorkels, placebooks and PB&J fixings into one of the legendary Island School biodiesel vans before heading north.
The first stop is Haynes Library in Governors Harbor. Here the students learn about Eleuthera’s largest library, which also happens to be the island’s oldest government building, built in 1897. Then, they move the classroom outside and participate in a harkness discussion regarding tourism and culture.
The students and teachers pile back into the vans and continue onwards to make it to both Harbour Island and Spanish Wells. Here, the students interview both locals and tourists in an attempt to put together a more holistic understanding of these smaller islands off the Northern end of Eleuthera.
After a full day of learning it’s time to set up camp. For many students, this will be their first night spent cooking food by campfire and sleeping in a tent. During the first night, the teachers will show students the ropes — how to build a fire, anchor a tent, and make delicious pasta and tomato sauce for dinner. The second night, however, the students apply their newly acquired skills and set up camp all on their own!
The students also get to explore many of the natural wonders Eleuthera has to offer. The sapphire blue hole, the Hatchet Bay caves, and the Glass Window bridge are just a few of the stops on the down island trip that make Eleuthera so unique. Our teachers detail the geologic processes that created the sites as well as the ecosystems that inhabit them before the students jump on in.
Though it’s a short time away from campus, the students consistently return to The Island School with new perspectives after the down island trip. From settlements the students had yet to visit to campfire meals they had yet to prepare, the days traveling and learning from the island of Eleuthera are packed with new experiences. But perhaps most importantly, The Island School students return with an expanded and more meaningful idea of what it means to live well in a place.