British Virgin Islands
British Virgin Islands
– High School Summer Program Itinerary –
Below is the VISIONS British Virgin Islands summer program itinerary for our high school volunteers! The actual schedule may be a little different because work, community activities and excursions can vary depending on changes in the weather, impromptu invitations from local friends and other opportunities.
*The itinerary depicts the typical 19-day trip with notations made for some of the specific activities that are not included in the 12-day trip. The shorter program also has fewer volunteer hours and will miss some of the local afternoon activities mentioned below.
Day 1: High school volunteers arrive at the airport on Beef Island, Tortola, or St. Thomas in the USVI (our travel agents assists with the options). VISIONS leaders meet each student and all teens make a quick call home before the group heads out. (Additional calls home happen about once a week, but as with all VISIONS locations, this is otherwise a tech free teen summer program.) Regardless of the arrival airport, we take a ferry together to Virgin Gorda. Everyone settles into our homebase—a community center atop a hill with refreshing breezes and incredible ocean views in all directions. We also have our first Circle meeting to start getting to know each other. (We come together for Circle meetings on average every other day during the program.) Our dinner cook then prepares a fabulous island-style welcome meal that we enjoy at outdoor tables while soaking up the idyllic surrounds.
*Circle meetings continue every other evening throughout the program.*
Day 2: A VISIONS carpenter leads a worksite orientation and tool safety class. Everyone gets to practice with all of the power tools so they feel confident about the island service projects to come. We also meet up with local friends and projects partners, and do a scavenger hunt in order to know the area better.
Days 3 – 6: We get into the groove of our work days and usually work until about 2 pm in order to take advantage of the cooler hours of the day. Teens get to choose their worksite each day, and many develop favorites they return to throughout the program. Projects include carpentry, environmental work and social service with local kids. And, of course, one of our partners is grateful for our help with animals, including the care of orphaned pets and the construction of dog houses that give dogs a break from the hot sun.
Homebase crew days also commence: Groups rotate on a daily basis, cooking breakfast, cleaning our living space and shopping for food at local markets. Some of the other afternoon and evening activity highlights include snorkeling, exploring the island’s famous picture-perfect grottoes, known as “The Baths,” taking in the small gift shops, music and traditional foods, and enjoying bonfires with the Caribbean as our backdrop. During Circle meetings, our group should be into the “working stage,” delving into feedback activities and learning some of what it takes for effective community building.
Days 7 & 8: Get ready to SCUBA dive! We complete the resort course SCUBA certification and then head out to explore some of the best reefs of the BVI. We also take a day to rest, do a deep clean of homebase and have a leisurely cookout with Virgin Gorda friends.
Days 9 – 13: The week involves a solid push with all of our projects and afternoon activities include volleyball games at Savannah Bay Beach, steel pan drum lessons, a hike up Gorda Peak for a terrific scenic outlook of many islands, and the wildly popular beach olympics.
Day 14: We take a ferry to the nature island of Anegada, known for its unique fauna and salt ponds. Here we spend time exploring, taking a guided tour, and helping with a few needed conservation projects.
Day 15: It’s time to join professional guides on a boat for a journey up to Bitter End, where we’ll start with a presentation to learn about mangroves. We’ll cover what they are and why they create such an important local habitat, the benefits provided to the marine ecosystem and to us on land, and identify some of the creatures that can be found within them. Afterwards snorkel in small teams to observe the different marine life.
*Not included with 12-day trip.
Days 16 & 17: Two more project days to complete our work on Virgin Gorda! We pack a lot in and still save time in the afternoons for favorite beaches and island outings. Circle meetings and our time bonding as a group also take on new meaning as we transition into thinking about how the summer experience might continue to play into our lives back home. One afternoon is spent on a private tour of the well known Necker Island (owned by Richard Branson) to see lemurs and other interesting island features.
*Necker Island not included in 12-day trip.
Day 18: This is a day to celebrate and thank our local friends for welcoming us into their lives. After a sleep-in and big clean of our living space, we start the preparations for what will be a final dinner and fun evening with our close friends and project partners. We often host a talent show and slideshow, exchange small gifts and say our final goodbyes.
Day 19: Bye for now! Leaders accompany all kids to the airports and see everyone off for their trips home.