Approximately thirty Sandy Point children ranging in age from four to sixteen received lessons in sustainability during a five day camp monitored by a group of young adults.
Entering the James A Pinder Primary School staff room on June 26- the last day of the camp- several children were gathered around twenty three year old David Maillis, the oldest of the four people who had ran the camp since June 22.
Mr. Maillis, who had come from Nassau to volunteer as a camp supervisor, was demonstrating how to clean a lionfish and a small octopus that he had caught the previous day. The fish and octopus were spread on a table gathering the attention of a large group of children who had never seen an octopus before and did not know about lionfish.
A graduate of Boston University, he had just moved back to The Bahamas, “probably for good”, he said, wanting to give back to his country by sharing knowledge. He was the fishing expert of the camp, having taught in 2007, another volunteer, his friend Lucas Metropoulos how to fish.
Lucas Metropoulos, a resident of Boca Raton, is one of the founders of Lend a Hand Bahamas, an organization started in Nassau in 2013, aimed at helping Bahamian children. He was the coordinator of the Sandy Point camp with Garnell Stuart who had contacted him through Facebook. Ms. Stuart, a talented musician who had been teaching piano at the primary school during the previous school year, was aware of the work accomplished in Nassau by Lend a Hand Bahamas and recognized the need of a summer camp held by that organization in Sandy Point.
Mr. Metropoulos who went to Duke University to study Public Policy, comes from an Orthodox Greek family who had always practiced community service. Using his knowledge of marine science and fishing, he started a non-profit organization in Boca Raton called Fishing for Families in Need which soon spread to North Carolina and Miami.
He explained how he wanted to connect the Florida program to Nassau and how the opportunity of a grant offered by Duke University helped him create this program, first at the Ranfurly Home for Children in 2010 and then in Grants Town in 2012.
As an activity coordinator during the week, he had bonded with the children who looked to him for attention.
His younger brother, Nicholas, accompanied him to Sandy Point also as a volunteer.
Another camp supervisor, Natalie Miaoulis, followed by a few kids, led me to a patch of garden where tires had been filled with soil and seeds planted. She was the agriculture specialist. She had brought different vegetable seeds donated by Abaco Neem to teach the children how to germinate them and how to take care of them once they sprouted.
She interested the children by playing games with them to raise their awareness of where their food came from and taught them words relating to natural resources during “words of the day” games; they learned such words as: ‘endangered,’ ‘extinct,’ ‘sustainability,’ ‘aquaculture,’ ‘agriculture,’ flower parts, fish parts and more.
She is presently working with IICA in Nassau but she is going back to the University of Florida in Gainesville to study for a Masters in International Food and Resource Economics.
The goal of the camp was to teach the children about agriculture and marine science so they could develop sustainability skills.
One of those skills was swimming, so realizing some children did not know how to swim, ten of them were taught how to; all of the kids were given fishing lines to keep; they were shown how to use them through a demonstration on the docks close to the school. To make them aware of taking care of their environment, they participated in a beach clean-up.
As an extension of Lend a Hand Bahamas, the group of volunteers hopes to make the Sandy Point camp an annual event.