G.O.L.D. Initiative Launches Epic Expedition

Two hundred young persons from across The Bahamas are set to descend on picturesque Abaco for a 13-day Bahamas Award Scheme Expedition (BASE).

Participants in the Governor General Youth Award (GGYA) programme will have the opportunity to appreciate Abaco in all its glory while they trek along pristine beaches and through thick pine forests.

Thanks to the G.O.L.D. Initiative — a financial partnership between the GGYA and the Ministry of Youth, Sports & Culture — more Family Island and inner-city participants will be able to attend this year’s event.

Famed for its candy-striped lighthouse, peaceful beaches, lovingly restored colonial houses and bright cascading bougainvillea, Abaco is the epitome of tranquility and beauty lying just 200 miles east of Miami.

Youths aged 14 to 25 will experience adventure and discovery during their journey, which is meticulously designed to allow participants the freedom to share skills, take initiative and demonstrate resourcefulness, all while encircled by a safety net of trained support staff.

BASE 2011 is open to all GGYA participants seeking a Bronze, Silver or Gold Award. Those awards come, however, with pre-requisite community service, skills and physical fitness components.

BASE 2011 runs from Sunday, June 26, to Friday, July 8. Registration is underway for the event, which is expected to draw youths from Abaco, Acklins, Crooked Island, Eleuthera, Exuma, Grand Bahama and New Providence.

The creation of BASE in 1992 encouraged young people to be disciplined and responsible, simultaneously providing opportunities for achievement and fulfillment in challenging situations, according to national director of the GGYA, Denise Mortimer.

“BASE gives GGYA participants opportunities to experience life on a different Bahamian Family Island (in this instance Abaco); live and work with people other than their normal peers; develop additional leadership skills, and qualify for their respective adventurous journey level,” said Ms Mortimer. “Gold participants complete the required residential project, which involves a community service.”

Prior to the expedition, participants will be based at the Abaco Central High School, where training and route planning sessions will be held, equipment checked and food rationed out. The four-day Gold expedition begins July 2. The three-day Silver Expedition starts July 3, and the Bronze expedition runs from July 4 through July 6.

The physical demands of such hikes are no laughing matter. Participants are responsible for the preparation and packing of their own food, health and hygiene items and other necessities. They are strictly limited to what they can carry on their back. Therefore, each person is required to pack 23 to 30 percent of his/her body weight in clothes and equipment and told to allow an additional 10 to 15 percent for food.

Ms Mortimer stressed the importance of following all instructions: pack light, drink lots of water, get plenty of rest, bring all items on the equipment list, be discipline and read the information provided.

“Do not plan to run away from home, as the GGYA does not adopt anyone,” she quipped.

“Those persons who think this is an excursion do not fully understanding what BASE is about,” said Ms Mortimer. “Don’t travel with too much clothing. You have to be able to work in a group and be able to adjust to outdoor showers.”

The GGYA is an exciting self-development programme available to all young Bahamians. It equips them with life skills to make a difference within themselves, their communities and the world.

Only 50 percent of Bronze chasers will obtain the medal, while the success rate for Silver and Gold is much higher, around 75 percent.

The GGYA is a member of the International Award for Young People, where almost eight million young people from 132 countries have undertaken a variety of voluntary and challenging activities.

Last October, the government signed a contract with the GGYA to provide the organization with critical funding through the G.O.L.D. Initiative. In addition to increased Family Island and inner-city participation in BASE 2011, the GGYA is also able to offer training courses for new volunteers through the new funding mechanism.

According to the Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Charles Maynard, the initiative’s goal is to bring every school on every island of The Bahamas into the GGYA programme as a part of a national youth development strategy.

“Upon completion, most participants are proud that they were able to take part in BASE because it is the ultimate test of one’s patience, discipline, strength and ability to overcome obstacles,” said Ms Mortimer. “Many did not think they could complete such a challenging venture, and so they gain a better understanding of themselves and others. Participants get a tremendous sense of achievement. They never thought they could survive without TV, cell phone, their own bed and a hot shower.”

By Precision Media