Over 120 youths at Coast Guard Camp
July 22, 2011

Over 120 youths at Coast Guard Camp

Fresh faced youngsters filled the Coast Guard Base last Wednesday, July 20, when SEARCHLIGHT visited the annual Coast Guard Summer Camp.{{more}} This year, the vibrant and ever exciting maritime camp welcomed over 120 youths aged 14 to18. The high quantity of students neccesitated them being separated into three phases of around 40 each.

Phase one, which SEARCHLIGHT visited, kicked off with 43 students on Monday, July 11, and will run until Monday, July 25.

We caught up with the program coordinator Chief Petty Officer Vinton John who gave a brief history and overview of the program this year and in years gone by. Currently in its 18th year of existence, he noted that the Coast Guard Youth Development Program, as it is offically called, is perhaps the longest running summer camp in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

In keeping with its name, everyday features sessions of the educational variety including Substance Abuse Prevention, Conflict Resolution, Leadership Development and Solid Waste Management. Of course, most of the sessions are geared toward teaching participants about the sea and maritime life. As such they are trained in Navigation/Seamanship and Safety at sea, Swimming, Knots and Splices and Boat Handling. On these sea based courses, students actually gain the opportunity to steer boats, of course, under heavy supervision.

This Wednesdsay however, the Phase one group sat engrossed in a presenation from Ian Haynes a representative from Bank of St. Vincent and the Grenadines who along with Sagicor, are major sponsors of the programme.

Haynes, who holds responsibility for dispersing student loans at the bank, empahsized the importance of getting good grades and the benefits and intricacies of obtaining a student loan. He challenged the students to strive for great things. “Competition”, he said “Is so tight in some areas, you wouldn’t even be considered for a job if you dont have a BSc”.

Following this presentation, the charismatic Chief John, who is clearly a hit with the youngsters, announced that for the first time, there will be a sports day at the end of the camp; an announcement which was greeted with delight from the participants present. This sports day, he said, would pit the three phases of students in friendly competition against each other for a host of prizes including medals and a challenge trophy.

The programme, in its entirety, will run until August 20, when it will close with a grand ceremony and prize giving. (PM)