Kayse Cartwright is a member of the NGM Major High School Navigator unit on Long Island (Bahamas). Although she struggles with her weight as she has for most of her life, Kayse is a very engaged member that takes the values and skills taught in the program to “heart”. That attitude is what inspired her to apply for the BNT EcoCamp Program, a very rigorous 8- day experience on Andros for High School environmental leaders. Kayse’s Essay and video earned her a spot in 2019 EcoCamp, and she was elated! She made follow-up calls to the BNT headquarters on a weekly basis (unusual for a participant), sometimes several times in one week. She was excited about attending EcoCamp knowing full well the intensive 16-hour days experience will take her out of her comfort zone.
Kayse remained fully engrossed in EcoCamp, which was based at the Forfar Field Station in South Blanket Sound, Andros. She usually sat at the front of the classroom during lectures and took exceedingly great notes. She opted to complete her journal entries during her one-hour free time each day and epitomized the character strengths of wisdom, courage, humanity, transcendence, justice and temperance learnt in her Navigator club. Camp activities included swimming in land-based and oceanic blue holes, snorkeling on coral reefs, catching and tagging bonefishes, wilderness camping and caving with lots of boating activities.
Kayse’s biggest challenge came during the 3-mile hike component of the EcoCamp wilderness camping expedition. Nervous and hesitant, her first mile was slow and difficult becoming increasing more tedious for her as time progressed. Despite her early start, Kayse quickly migrated to the back of the line and eventually a long distance from the other participants. She became light headed and dismayed. Her coach motivated her by encouraging her to reflect on all the reasons she wanted to do EcoCamp and reminding her about the feeling of triumph that she would experience once her hike was completed. Her coach also shared many of the uplifting remarks that were coming in from her mom and other parents in the WhatsApp group that had been set up for EcoCamp parents. Regular updates of her progress were being transmitted to the group. Taking deep exhausting breaths, she made frequent water stops but eventually began to feel activated and more enthusiastic about finishing the hike. Putting her doubt and fears aside, Kayse persevered. As soon as she became visible to the other participants, they began cheering for her. Although almost two hours behind the other hikers, she completed! Once she caught her breath, Kayse spoke of how proud and surprise of herself she was. She spoke of the numerous points at which she could have given up along the hike and the life lessons that she will take back to her unit on Long Island.
Text and Photos courtesy of Portia Sweeting, Bahamas National Trust