Phoenix School’s EarlyAct Club is on the job today. We join Taylor, a Friends of the Virgin Island volunteer, to give back to the National Park with a day of service. We head out early for Brown Bay to help clean the environment there. After a mile hike up a rocky, “super steep incline” to the ridge and back down to the beach, we go to work. At the beach, we sift through dirt and sand to find and separate trash; mostly plastic, rope, and bottle caps. Liam finds a big bucket covered with a thousand ants. We leave the ants but remove the bucket.
Under a relentless, beating sun we work, thankful for our water bottles. Nearby we spy giant termite nests and wood with termite holes, but no visible termites. They are smart to hide away in their nests and tunnels from the intense sunlight. We spy thousands of wasps minding their own business, happy to be left alone. Everywhere there are flying bugs and more bugs trying to annoy us, but we try hard to ignore them. Taylor shows us false pineapple, starvation fruit, and other native plants. Hermit crabs and brown pelicans are treats for our eyes, but the highlight is spying a sting ray in the water close to shore.
We return to camp with a sense of accomplishment in helping our National Park community, ready to seek shade under our restaurant’s canopy. It is a perfect time to relax and work on journal watercolor pages as we rehydrate and renew our strength for a late afternoon snorkel.
Cinnamon Bay waters welcome us back to its underwater world. As we swim, we encounter a range of marine life, from the stunning body of the Moon Jelly to the hard yellow shell of the Hawksbill turtle. We see the Sargent Major, the Conch sitting atop a coral throne, and the Trumpet fish with its shiny, grey skin and long snout.
Our day ends with the thundering surf beckoning us to bed after a day of sun, service, and swimming…in paradise! Stay tuned for more updates on our St. John, USVI Travel Study Trip with The Phoenix School.