They broke down into three groups to get to their destination, with the first group leaving on June 29. The second group left on June 30, and the last group on July 1. Flying into the airport at North Eleuthera in Governor’s Bay (to an airport the approximate size of the Loose Caboose), the group was amazed at the startling blue waters that looked like the cover of a travel brochure, but as the plane circled lower they could see the small, dilapidated homes that did not speak of a prime vacation spot. Upon landing, the kids spotted a small store across from the airport. Within a short period of time they left the store, realizing a bit too late that it didn’t carry the contents of a traditional Circle K in The States.View More images >>
“Your first reaction was that it was very fancy ... and then you land,” said Cheryl Hopkins, who was one of the adult chaperones and mother to one of the counselor kids, Elizabeth Schum. “There is only one main road, one tiny store, a tiny library, a community center and a pavilion by the sea. There are also about 50 residents there ... and that’s it.”
Their ride to the church, with a chauffeur named Fine Threads, was a culture shock as well. The main road was only wide enough for one car at a time, and roosters randomly crossed the road.
They stayed on Current Island proper, in the church manse and the sanctuary, sleeping on twin mattresses on the ground, and ate the native fare for their meals.
Vacation Bible School, though, was held on the mainland of North Eleuthera in the church there.
After a delayed flight and an unexpected overnight stay in Nassau, the group arrived just 45 minutes before their first day of Bible Camp. They were greeted by Salina, a little 3-year-old girl from Haiti, who was so excited to be there she arrived early.
When the other children began to arrive, it was time to meet new friends.
“Five kids got out of this little tiny car,” Cheryl said. “The Boca kids looked at that kind of funny, until later in the week when we had 23 people in an 11-passenger van.”
Each counselor had a group of children they were responsible for. By the end of the VBS week, there were approximately 40 children attending, with the youngest being 18 months and the oldest being 20.
“For the most part they all spoke or understood English,” Cheryl said. “The little girl, Salina, had some difficulty because she was so young. But the thing that brought them all together was music. We had songs, the same songs from VBS that was held here in May, that we did over there. They all loved that.”
They also did crafts during the week, including beach ball and paper hat decoration. At one point the group even rebuilt the Wall of Jerusalem, with boulders made from Boca Beacon newspapers and Publix paper grocery bags.
Peanut butter sandwiches were eaten by the blue waters of the Caribbean, and there was swimming, music, dancing and comaraderie.
The camp wrapped up on July 4, with a celebration to finish it off. They had a puppet show, dancing, cake and celebrated the new friendships that were created.
“The kids didn’t know what to expect, but they all handled it so beautifully,” Cheryl said. “The group who had gone in before us to do setup for camp literally just knocked on the door of the lady, Miss Sue, who runs the public library. She let them in to set up. It’s a place where everybody knows everybody, and everyone is like family ... or they really are family.”
“It’s Boca Grande-esque in that way.”
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