Island Kids

I love our island children.

I don’t have children of my own (and my beau’s children are grown). So I get my “kid fix” from spending time with the local island kids. Due to the small size of the community and the relaxed, interactive, island lifestyle, it is my pleasure to see these children almost every day – far more often than I was able to see cousins or friend’s children in the hectic, far-flung States.

Beau and I brought all the kids over for an impromptu cookout and swim one weekend afternoon last fall.

One of the benefits of living on this small island is the tight sense of community. With fewer than 100 full-time residents, and a delightful tangle of family ties amongst all the cousins and aunts and uncles, the community knows one another well and spends lots of time together. Of the current residents, 17 are school-aged children – including only three girls at the moment!

The school.

The island boasts a one-room schoolhouse, with live-in government teachers, where it educates children from Kindergarten through Grade 8. After that, children must go to Nassau or another island for high school. Sometimes families move with their children. More often, during those high school years, our local children live with an aunt or cousin or other family member already living in that location.

My beau also loves children, and he is especially fond of these island children since many of them are his family or god-children or simply the future of this special island. Beau and I, along with another couple, started a local kids’ camp last summer. Well into our second summer now, we are all having a ball! All of the local school kids participate, along with numerous volunteer adults, and we meet every Thursday and Saturday during the summer months.

Snorkeling one Saturday.

The purpose of the camp is to pass on traditional island skills in the areas of swimming, boating, sailing, fishing, free-diving, spear-fishing and nature skills, while subtly encouraging positive character development that has made this island special: manners, discipline, respect for elders and the community, island preservation, work ethic, etc.

Boat excursion.

These island children share many similarities with American and most other children, in my experience. They love to laugh, play, giggle, get into innocent mischief, express wonder at new things, and they bring an energy and zest for life to everything they do.

This crew just won a champion junior sailing race. Posing here for a “serious” picture.

And a “silly” picture.

And now the CHAMPION picture!

However, the island children also seem a little different to me than many other children – in a good way. As a whole, island kids are unfailingly polite, demonstrate respect for their elders, answer with “yes ma’am” and the like, do not bully their peers (of course, disagreements and bickering are unavoidable), and play tirelessly outdoors during all of their free time.

I suspect that much of this has to do with the small-town atmosphere and values and family relations, which small towns in the U.S. and other countries may still continue to enjoy. Certainly the freedom that comes with living in a small, safe place enables our local kids to run loose for hours on end in a way that City kids just can’t enjoy.

Playing on one of the beaches.

It definitely takes a village to raise a child, and our local village embraces that concept. Any adult, including myself now, will reprimand or correct any child observed being rude or unruly or doing something unsafe. The children are quick to respond. They’re also quick to run up to us with greetings (“Good afternoon!”), hugs and whatever news is most exciting in their day.

Gardening session in our camp – we planted watermelons and pumpkins. Fingers crossed for a good harvest!

Unfortunately, the inevitable path of “progress” brings changes to children here, too. Computers, video games and modern technology demand the attention of many of the children – it’s not just fishing and swimming anymore. Exposure to brand names and popular trends through television and the internet brings the focus on such material things to the island in ways we didn’t see a couple decades ago. Like elsewhere in the world, values slowly change as a result. As much as possible (thus, the kids camp), we hope to preserve the innocence of our children and their appreciation for island life.

Meanwhile, I just enjoy them every single day.

One of the boys diving down to explore on a snorkel excursion.

I donned a life jacket to help a nervous swimmer snorkel an underwater cave. A great accomplishment for him!

Our tiny James Bond.

Beau returning with older boys from a spear-fishing excursion.

Beach picnic lunch last weekend, younger kids are still swimming in the background.

Kids cleaning their fish after a successful mission.

Moment of Zen with the sharks by the fish-cleaning bench.

Tired twins heading home with their spears, snorkel gear and bag of freshly caught and cleaned fish!

6 Responses to Island Kids

  • This is a fabulous blog post!! And the pics are stunning. I love it.Are you serious there are only 100 residents on this island? Crazy. And do you mind my asking, who is the young white boy? You mentioned you don't have any kids of your own. My apologies but I haven't read every post on your blog so I may have missed who he is along the way.

  • Dawn says:

    Glad you liked the post! YES, there are fewer than 100 full-time residents on this tiny island, which is less than 5 square miles. We have a thriving international community of rental visitors, boaters and people with vacation homes, so it's actually fairly lively. I don't mind you asking about the white boys at all. There are two American boys who live here full-time – their American momma started coming here as a baby and is now married to a Bahamian. Also, although native Bahamians on this island are predominantly dark-skinned, there are also white Bahamians throughout the islands. Thanks for taking the time to post your comment and questions!

  • Okay I guess that makes total sense. There are tons of white Jamaicans as well. I just don't know much about other islands. Thanks for enlightening me! 🙂

  • Dawn says:

    My pleasure! 🙂

  • Sarah says:

    Great post! What you, Beau, & the other camp organizers/volunteers are doing for the kids (& ultimately the island) is invaluable. This time in their lives is something they will look back on & smile as well as draw them together in an additional way other than just blood ties.Way to go, BLB!

  • Dawn says:

    Thanks so much, Sarah! The pleasure is truly mine. I think the adults have just as much fun as the kids, and I've loved getting to know them all. Glad you liked the post! Dawn, aka Dawn, aka BLB 🙂

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