The Island School is a mind, body and spirit adventure. And whereas the academic and cultural contact programs primarily develop the mind and spirit dimensions of the experience, the outdoor and physical education programs help students develop the strong bodies that sustain strong minds. Across all programs, students learn to push themselves outside of their comfort zones, support one another when the going gets tough, and celebrate accomplishments as individuals and as a community.
The morning exercise program is a rigorous physical education program by any standards. The entire community—students and faculty alike—spends at least one hour participating in a variety of workouts five days of the week. Many exercises include a combination of swimming, running, and calisthenics; other offerings center on team sports such as water polo, volleyball, or ultimate Frisbee, while yoga and freediving opportunities develop flexibility and concentration.
By the third week of the semester, students must decide on a specialized course of training in preparation for one of two pinnacle challenges: a half-marathon or 4-mile “super swim.” Three workouts per week are dedicated to this effort. Other notable workouts include three physical assessments: a combined run and swim that allows students to track their progress throughout the semester.
- DAY 1 (Monday)- Run-Swims. This exercise consists of exploring the unique coastline surrounding Cape Eleuthera. A series of man-made peninsulas make a great course for cross-training through running along the coast followed by swimming across the bays. Students who lead the pack get the extra benefit of calisthenics while they wait for their peers.
- DAY 2 (Tuesday)- Run & Swim Tracks. Students choose to either train for a half-marathon or 4-mile “Super Swim.” The length and intensity of these exercises increase throughout the semester until peaking at the main event. A typical endurance workout would include running 5 miles with a series of sprints or swimming 1 mile with a series of form workshops.
- DAY 3 (Wednesday)- Sleep-in morning. An optional sunrise free dive is also available a few times during the semester, depending on weather and participation.
- DAY 4 (Thursday)- Run & Swim Tracks.
- DAY 5 (Friday)- Water Polo or Yoga. These exercises are a wonderful way for students to exercise their team sports abilities or alternately to reflect on their physical health in a meditative way. Students are assigned to one exercise on a given week and then alternate to the other exercise the following week.
- DAY 6 (Saturday)- Run & Swim Tracks.
- DAY 7 (Sunday)- Sleep-in morning. Students are encouraged to maintain a healthy level of rest in preparation for the week to come.
The SCUBA program is instrumental to the Island School journey because it provides students with an opportunity to explore the beautiful underwater environment that surrounds Eleuthera in their Marine Ecology course. After demonstrating proficiency in a number of underwater skills, students explore and document the underwater ecosystems. By the end of the semester, all students acquire PADI’s Open Water Diver certification and log approximately ten dives, including a night dive and a deep dive to “the wall” of the Exuma Sound.
There are two sea kayaking expeditions during the semester. The first is a 3-day trip during which students learn the essential hard skills involved in sea kayaking and leave no trace camping. The 3-day expeditions are wonderful introductions to the environment of South Eleuthera and an invaluable bonding experience for the students. Later in the semester, students apply the hard skills acquired during 3-day trips and develop leadership skills during an 8-day voyage around the southern point of Eleuthera. Students take turns leading their pod through the day’s route, selecting and setting up a camp site, cooking meals over an open fire, and learning about themselves and each other through campfire activities. Punctuating this 30-nautical-mile trip is a 48-hour solo experience on the windward coast. With only their own thoughts to turn to, the solos are often the most powerful experiences of the students’ semester.