A group of 15 children will be experiencing the field trip of a lifetime as they arrive in Cayman for 2011’s National Geographic Hands-On Explorer Challenge today.
“We are thrilled to welcome the experts from National Geographic and the talented young explorers of the Hands-On Explorer Challenge to the Cayman Islands to share in our rich culture, rare wildlife, and captivating surroundings. With so much to explore both on land and in the water, the Cayman Islands is an ideal destination in which these children can learn about the environment around them,” said Premier McKeeva Bush.
They arrive after winning a national essay and photo competition for kids in its fifth year which promotes the dedication to hands-on exploration among America’s youth.
Nearly 12,000 entries have been received since the program’s inception, with past expeditions taking winners to the Galápagos Islands, South Africa, Australia and Peru.
The youngsters, aged between 9 and 14, wrote an original personal essay explaining to National Geographic Kids how they actively explore their world, creatively incorporating what inspires and excites them as they explore, while considering how water is essential to life everywhere – from the dew on a leaf, to the sea that surrounds the Cayman Islands.
The winning explorers will discover the wild wonders of the Cayman Islands, from swimming with the stingrays at Stingray City to trekking through the 750 acres of the Mastic Trail.
They will see endangered Blue Iguanas at Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park, reach as deep as 120 feet in the Atlantis submarine and snorkel Cayman’s newest dive site, the recently sunk former USS Kittiwake.
The explorers will make a trip to sister island Cayman Brac, exploring natural caves all over the island. The children will get hands on experience at Cayman Turtle Farm, kayak the coastal mangrove forest and board the Jolly Roger, Cayman’s own pirate ship. Acting Director of Tourism Shomari Scott said the link-up was a beneficial one for the destination.
“We are excited to be partnering with National Geographic, a renowned American brand that is well respected and regarded as a pioneer in dealing with ecological issues, which is close to the Cayman Islands’ initiatives.”
The young writers and explorers will be on-island until Friday, 15 July.
They are Kamryn Brown from Pleasanton, Calif., Diego Gutierrez of Fairfax, Va., Emmie Hine from Wilmette, Ill., Taylor Kennedy from Castle Rock, Colo., Sha’anan Levy of Sebastopol, Calif., Clara Malanaphy from Hudson Wis., Kennan Negrete from Windermere, Fla., Michael Parker of Mayville, N.Y., Zane Richer from Candia, N.H., Brody Schillo from Billings, Mont., Michaela Seaton of Yorktown, Va., Madeline Lloyd from Flower Mound, Texas and Harrison Tarabella from Fairhope, Ala.