Student volunteers on the VISIONS British Virgin Islands teen summer camp will receive 75 service hours working on housing and environmental issues on the island of Tortola. After working on the island for 25 years, VISIONS groups are part of a cultural scene that includes steel drum sessions and cooking island foods with local people whose Afro-Caribbean roots date back to the Atlantic slave trade of the 1500s. While not working, participants explore the beautiful tropical island with SCUBA and beach time among the activities.
Community service in the BVI will engage you with the enthusiasm of local carpenters, farmers, environmentalists and development workers. In partnership with the Ministry of Health and Welfare, Department of Agriculture, National Parks Trust and schools, VISIONS teens have built playgrounds, pavilions, homes, mountain lookouts, walking trails and more. Volunteering in the BVI includes non-carpentry projects as well. The Rainbow Home awaits us for working with their children every summer, and we lend a hand with projects at the Humane Society. We also work on an organic farm preparing fields, maintaining irrigation systems, harvesting food, and feeding the livestock.
With 21 national parks and expansive ecological diversity, the BVI National Parks Trust has an important duty in safeguarding the islands’ natural assets. VISIONS has worked with the Trust on trail work, building information centers, and wildlife habitat.
Our time is filled with opportunities to interact with community members and to be a part of Tortola’s island culture. In addition to the immersion experience that comes naturally by being grounded in the community, we schedule activities for after work, evenings and weekends. You will participate in workshops with artisans and musicians, make island smoothies, attend festivals, host a Rastafarian guest speaker, and have a chance for pickup basketball and games with neighbor friends. We listen to steel drum music on the beach and enjoy some competition in island scavenger hunts. Throw in a perfect ocean sunset, and the stage is set for an unforgettable summer.
"The summer in the BVI was unforgettable. The focus on community service made me appreciate all the little things I take for granted."
Searching out the best coral reefs becomes a summer adventure, as extraordinary snorkeling opportunities exist at just about every beach. We sail away to nearby islands on the White Squall and SCUBA with the island’s most trusted dive company. Tortola is a mountainous island, and the picturesque panoramic views from the top of Sage Mountain will be imprinted in your memory for a long time. We explore the capital of Road Town with its markets, music, and traditional foods, and even take a ferry to nearby Virgin Gorda to swim at the famous “Baths.”
We live together as a group in a community center in one of the island’s neighborhoods. There are bathrooms and showers, kitchen facilities, and everything we need to make it our temporary home.
Service projects take place five days a week and finish by mid-afternoon to beat the heat. You typically get to choose between three different worksites each day, often making considerable progress in a short time. Once a week, you will be on “homebase crew” with a few other participants and a leader. The crew makes breakfast for the group, runs errands and buys food for the next meals, does laundry, and enjoys a “day in the life.”
After work is for beach time, island hikes, exploring Road Town, games with local kids, spending time with neighbors, and occasional downtime to relax before dinner. In addition to after-work activities, we have exciting full-day excursions that take advantage of our amazing Caribbean surroundings.
Meals are varied, plentiful, and with meat and vegetarian options. Miss Carol is our dinner cook, and knows our tastes well after cooking for VISIONS groups for more than 20 years! A few evenings a week, we have group meetings that last about an hour and are a time to reflect on the volunteer and cultural experience. Other nights we’ll hang out as a group, prepare for the next day’s projects, or go into Roadtown for an event.
VISIONS is not a teen tour with a day-to-day travel itinerary. Instead we settle in to our home base and are part of daily life. The itinerary provides an overview of some of the highlights, keeping in mind that most every day includes cultural any recreation activities.