The main pillar that I felt throughout this whole trip was the pillar of connection. When I arrived at the lodge, I was actually really nervous about what the other kids were going to be like. I thought they were all going to be try-hard fly fishing guys, that I would not really be able to become friends with. Even after meeting all of them, I was still a little skeptical. Sitting here writing this, I can easily say that this group of people have turned into some of the funniest and best friends that I’ve ever had. We all connected on such a great level, and my body really hurts from laughing so much. Whether it was fishing off the dock together, playing corn hole, or just spending some time together talking, each and every moment was so fun. Not only did I connect with the American boys here, but also the Bahamian boys as well. John, Nathaniel, and Junior were all so fun to hang out with. Although these boys are from the Bahamas, they would fit in with any American kid. None of these kids had ever fly-fished before, and tonight at Group Circle, Junior told us that he wants to become a bone fishing guide when he gets older, which I thought was so cool. It would be so funny to come back here in 20 years and have Junior as my guide. Outside of the lodge, it was easy to connect with all the other kids I might too. One of my favorite moments of the entire trip was the visit to the local community center to play basketball. There were about 10 other Bahamian kids there, and it was so fun to play 5 on 5 with them. I felt like I was there for 10 minutes, but it somehow turned into 3 hours. I had never been so drenched in sweat before, and I wanted to play for another 3 hours. It was tough to say bye to them because i knew I would never see them again, which was a weird feeling, but I know I will never forget those pick up games. Another crazy connection was with the Haitian kids at Sand Banks. After our 2nd visit, we really made it a point to sit down with the kids and talk to them on a very personal level. The kid I hung out with was named Eli, and he had moved to Sand Banks with his mother when he was a baby. He now has 3 younger brothers, Adrian, Issac, and Victor. All 4 of them share a single mattress with each other. These kids have probably gone through more in life then I could ever imagine, and Victor and Issac are just 5 years old and Eli himself is only 10. Although it may look to me like that would be a very rough life, they all Love living in Sand Banks. But, the main goal throughout the community is to one day get to The United States. One of the most eye-opening things I heard there was from a kid named Wesley, who is entering the 6th grade after the end of the summer. Talking to Eric, he said his goal is to one day be able to go to college in the States. Eric asked Wesley “if you could have anything in the world, what would you want?”, Wesley answered with “ a jet.” Why? So he could fly to the United States and start a life there. Hearing those words from a young kid, really made me appreciate the situation I live in, and everything i take completely for granted. I really need to think about everything I take for granted; my own bed, an amazing school, an amazing family, and so much more. I will never forget this week, for so many reasons, and I know that once I get back to the States, my mind will often float back to thinking about all the memories I have from it.
Tucker Gannon, 16 years old, California