Location: West End, Tortola
It’s surreal to think that, just three weeks ago, we were uniting on deck as a crew for the very first time. Time moves in strange ways at Action Quest: while in some ways it feels as though time has flown, I can’t help but feel as though I’ve known my shipmates and fellow staff for far longer than the 21 days that we’ve spent together so far. We’ve had some incredible adventures — diving with sharks, rays and mantas, sailing through squalls, climbing mountains — and so many fun times. Whether we were dance partying, jumping into impromptu drum circles, or sharing life stories on the bow, we’ve been having an incredible time and learning loads along the way.
I’m so proud of my Dolphins and all of the hard work they’ve put in. Throughout the program, they’ve earned their night, digital underwater photography, research diver and naturalist specialty certifications. They recently completed their science research projects as well, presenting their findings to the whole Dolphin program. Sam, Max, and Aria researched the inhabitants of conch shells, attempting to determine whether there was a relationship between inhabitant type, depth, and substrate composition. Nick, Marcelle, and Hannah compared nitrate and phosphate levels in harbors and ports in an attempt to determine which location was more suitable for coral growth.
Cat’s Neptune’s have been hard at work as well, putting in a lot of time underwater while finishing up AQ’s most dive-intensive program. Throughout the past three weeks, Maddie, Lucas, Cole, Alan, Chloe, and Natalie have attained not only their Advanced Open Water certification but also their night, wreck, boat, fish identification, and equipment specialty certifications. It has been a pleasure to watch all of them grow and improve as divers.
In or out of the water, our shipmates have stepped up to the plate as one of the most cohesive teams that I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with. Maddie keeps us smiling with her bubbly, joyful attitude, acting as a counterpoint to Lucas’ lighthearted jokes and easy sense of humor. Once they get Alan laughing, the rest of us are sure to follow: Alan’s laugh (and sick dance moves) can keep us in stitches for hours. Marcelle is wonderfully and unabashedly goofy, sharing herself and her laughter with the crew and motivating others to open up and do the same. Chloe is right there with her at the center of the fun, inventing schemes and activities for the crew to do together while Aria acts as the voice of reason, keeping things in order and making sure the practical jobs are taken care of before the goofing off starts to happen. Sam, the flo-mingo, is one of our boat’s greatest motivators, always up for an awesome time and inspiring the rest of the crew and staff to jump in right alongside him. Natalie, however, hardly needs any motivating at all: she’s always the first one up and at the ready, whether it’s for a dance-off, dive, or dish cleaning. Hannah, too, is always at the ready both underwater and at the helm as our #1 coxswain. Nick, in the meantime, can be found turning his detail-oriented focus to finding awesome and unique creatures underwater. Max has excelled underwater, for which I’m very proud: as his open water instructor, I’ve seen him grow from a first-time diver into a confident and competent underwater explorer. Last but certainly not least, Cole has shared his genuine love and appreciation with the rest of us, helping to put the amazing experience we’ve had in perspective with his wise words and well-considered ideas.
It’s most assuredly going to be difficult to say goodbye to this crew on the ferry dock tomorrow. Never have I had a group of shipmates so dedicated to sharing and expressing their truest selves with both students and staff alike; this group is one of the kindest, wisest, and most accepting that I’ve ever had the pleasure to live and work with. Thank you, parents, for giving us the opportunity to get to know the fun-loving sailors, deep-sea scuba divers, and amazing human beings you sent down our way 21 days ago. As for the team (hey, hey team) — always remember 1. we’re Therapy; 2. a little bit louder; 3. I still can’t hear you; 4. more, more more . . .