Eight children from the Cayman Islands are off on the trip of a lifetime.
The youngsters are visiting the New York area as part of the Fresh Air Fund scheme, in which youngsters take part in special experiences and travel, said Rosa Harris, manager for national promotions and events for the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism.
“Annually, the department hosts kids from New York and gives them the Cayman experience. They are here for several days, touring the island and are hosted by Cayman families.
“A group of eight Cayman children are doing the reverse programme, going off to Fresh Air Fund camp in upstate New York to experience outdoor activities, camping, survival for the very first time probably away from their parents.
At the tail end of the 15 day trip they will see a Broadway show in New York City and do some sight seeing as well,” she said.
The camp lasts 11 days with four in the city, added Ms. Harris, who noted that subsequently both groups will reunite in Cayman to share stories.
“It is truly an exchange programme – when Cayman Airways relaunched the New York flight in 2007 we partnered with the charity organisation, which is near and dear to New Yorkers. This solidified our commitment to the New York area and we were able to promote the Cayman Islands by creating ambassadors through family.
“Cayman Airways funds the flights for both programmes and it would not be possible without them and the host families here in Cayman,” Ms Harris said.
Children who have achieved well in school and been involved in community activities were selected by the Ministry of Education, she added.
Olivia Scott Ramirez of Cayman Airways said that the national airline was delighted to be involved with the Fresh Air Fund.
“It is part of our annual partnership with the Department of Tourism to not only promote the community, but also promote the Cayman Islands overseas, in this case New York.
“We are proud to have the opportunity to send the Cayman children to have this experience and also the New York kids to come here, too.
We are excited to participate every year. The reports we hear is that kids talk about their activities, the city and the friendships they made over there. These are things that kids remember for a very long time, so it is of great benefit to the students and likewise for promoting Cayman when they are in New York,” Ms Scott Ramirez said.
Friends are jealous
Marcus Lawrence, 10, of Savannah Primary School, said he has been to the United States “a couple of times” but had not been to New York before.
“I am looking forward to the camp. It will be a fun summer,” he told the Compass.
Storm McLean, 10, goes to North Side Primary.
“All of my friends are really jealous,” she said, smiling.
Gabriella King, also from Savannah Primary, is 9 and she said that her family were happy for her to go on the trip.
“[They] want to go with me. I have seen New York on the television, but haven’t been before. We are going to stay in a hotel in Times Square, which will be very busy,” she said.
The Fresh Air Fund is a nonprofit organisation based in New York City, which was established more than 130 years ago to provide free summer vacations to the city’s children. In 2010, close to 10,000 New York City children experienced the joys of summertime with host families across the United States and the Cayman Islands and at five Fund camps in upstate New York.
Since its creation, Fresh Air Fund has given more than 1.7 million children free summer vacations at camps, with loving host families and more recently, in the Cayman Islands, away from the noise and the hustle and bustle of the city.
The youngsters from Cayman on the trip are Daniel Campbell, 9, Savannah Primary School; Gabriella King, 9, Savannah Primary School; Keyona Hanson, 11, Prospect Primary School; Leroy Malcolm Jr, 10, Red Bay Primary School; Marcus Lawrence, 10, Savannah Primary School; Melody Allenger, 9, Savannah Primary School; Shamelia McPherson, 12, Clifton Hunter High School; Storm McLean, 9, North Side Primary School.