Location: West End, Tortola

It s no surprise that this group has continued to grow closer and closer as a boating family. They have built each other up and accomplished so many amazing things over these three very short weeks. To say we, as their instructors, are proud of them is such a terrible understatement. To be able to watch these incredible young people grow and challenge themselves has been a true gift. We saw Ethan develop his diving skills to new heights and successfully crush the Neptune program. Another first time Neptune that really proved themselves and their superior skills was Alie. Chris and Alex (the dynamic duo) were the buddy team to end all buddy teams, usually the first in the water and always the ones initiating the hilarious underwater dance parties. JC and Hugh were the buddies that could do no wrong, each so helpful in so many ways. JC always took such good care of Sumo (our beloved dingy), and Hugh was our go-to-guy for starting our behemoth of a compressor. Rounding out our Neptune program were Heather and Jordan, two AQ vets that have been solid leaders on this boat since the second they stepped onto Surprise’s deck. They set a precedent for everyone else to be just as enthusiastic and positive as they were. Our five Dolphin girls have been such a joy. These girls are full of sunshine, rainbows, and surprises. From Peyton, who happy cries at PB&Js, to Hannah, who has to list her entire day from start to finish every night when we squeeze and tell our favorite part of the day. It’s gotten to where whenever a shipmate has a particularly fantastic day and can’t pick just one moment, they all call it “pulling a Hannah.” Ute has proven to be our champion skipper and really pulled through for us on race day, we may not have won first place but the beaming smile on her face at the end of the day made us feel like we all won. Kayla has sort of taken on the role of big sister or mom in that she always makes sure dinner is being taken care of and that we don’t get too out of hand or too silly. I will never forget this group of thirteen incredible teenagers. I remember our first dinner together and now to see how close they all are is tear-jerking. I’ve never seen a group of students create a closer bond in a shorter amount of time. Everyone is quick to give kind words of encouragement/ a hug when someone is feeling even the slightest bit down. The level of excitement and pure, unabashed joy that they brought to this boat is astounding, and I won’t be able to express to them enough how thankful I am to have had them as shipmates and students. Thank you to the parents of these wonderful students for allowing them to be apart of this experience, and thanks also for raising some of the coolest kids I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. I don’t want them to leave.