Experience of a lifetime

By: Alex Aines, high school alumna High School Adventures, Scuba, Sailing

Broadreach. Even that one single world makes me tingle with overwhelming excitement, knowing that what I experienced there will forever live in me. I went on adventures that rose above all other events that I once considered “thrilling” in my life. I learned more about myself and relating to others than I had learned in all the fourteen years I have been alive. I found a place where I finally felt independent, free and no longer held back. It was not scary at all; it was fantastic. Every morning I would wake up setting the bar high for the day, but no matter how high I set it, no matter what my expectations were, Broadreach always seemed to go above and beyond. I no longer had limits, time didn’t matter anymore, and just being able to feel like that made me the happiest girl ever. Everyday was a fresh start, a start that began with a phenomenal sunrise and ended with a just as amazing sunset, inviting the next day and its events into our lives.

I did learn a lot about the human race and myself on this trip. I learned that we could accomplish more than we think if we are pushed and invite hard work into our lives. I was pushed every single day at Broadreach, and I am so thankful for it. If I hadn’t accomplished, strived for, and achieved my goals, I would have forever regretted it. Instead though, I have not a single regret to show, just a fabulous amount of new certifications in diving and sailing, great pictures and of course an unmistakably “Caribbean tan.” I always knew that I loved diving and sailing, but Broadreach showed me more than what I wanted to do and see, they showed me what I needed to experience. New doors, new opportunities that made me knowledgeable, that made me feel like I could do some things right for once.

These opportunities stared me straight in the face, intimidated me at times, but I ran with them. I learned to trust others and myself. The people on my boat, Armana, became my family and I embraced the fact that they were different and yet so alike, compared to me. They changed me in little ways like introducing me to the word y’all and that beans on toast is amazing and that honey or catsup go with pretty much everything. Though it might not have been obvious to any single person, everyone changed. We learned from each other, we experienced everything together, we learned about ourselves through other people, we learned that even someone who seems so different from you can in fact become your best friend. All of those people helped me open up and I was able to show them who I really was, something that is hard for me to do around new people. I realized that they were all there to catch me if I fell. We bonded so well and even on the first day, we all were in serious pain from laughing so hard. We felt so comfortable with each other and that is what made the trip so easy to effortless to ease into. People were there to endure everything I had to (challenges, triumphs, disappointments and everything in-between) and having someone, or rather many people, there with you just makes it all better.

Our skipper, Gavin and our dive master, Liz amazed and inspired me too. They let us do what we wanted, but still made us invite responsibility into our lives, like cooking and cleaning (more than I even do at home). They were amazing and worked extra hard just for us so we could accomplish our goals. They also both have astounding lives and backgrounds and I felt privileged to be on a boat with such skilled individuals. The people were unbelievable, but I have to admit that I think the diving and sailing were just as good.

I am so lucky that I got an opportunity like this. I devoted myself to this trip and I achieved everything I wanted to. The previous summer, I had done a kind of similar program called Actionquest. I came to Broadreach thinking that Actionquest was amazing and it was going to be hard for Broadreach to measure up, but I was so wrong and Broadreach blew me away.

From August 1-17, we went to seven fabulous Leeward Islands (St. Martin, St. Barts, Ile Fourche, Statia, Saba, St. Kitts, Nevis and Tintamarre), which is something I probably never would have been able to experience if it wasn’t for this trip. In total, I completed a whopping twenty-seven dives and I reached well over the fifty dives I needed to become a Master Diver. I got four specialties and on top of that, I became a Rescue Diver, which had been a lifelong goal of mine and is very important to me. I also received my ASA sailing certification. There were three levels of divers in my group and on my boat. We were UDX53 (X for extreme of course). Seeing my friends who came to camp uncertified overcome their fears and get right up there with the advanced divers was priceless. I was so proud of them! Besides diving, we also learned how to sail and run a 46-foot catamaran yacht, which was nothing less than incredible. We had time to experience the islands too by doing community service, hiking, shopping, and of course eating some remarkable food! We went to bed every night exhausted, sometimes still wet, but with a full heart and usually next to a person you couldn’t even imagine not knowing. Some nights it rained, but even on those nights, there were usually people lying out on the bow of the boat looking at the stars that seemed almost too bright to be real. Those stars were unlike any other that I have seen before. We would listen to the water slosh only a couple of feet beneath us with a cool breeze and a satisfied smile on our faces before we fell asleep.

Even with only a couple of days left on the trip, I couldn’t imagine returning to my old life back in Bethesda, Maryland. I couldn’t imagine not being wet constantly, not doing something new and exciting every minute of the day, not blowing the bass out while listening to insanely loud music with a bunch of the best people I have ever encountered.

Nevertheless, the dreaded day came when I had to bid everyone farewell and return home. People say memories last forever and they do, but sometimes they aren’t always good enough and the real thing will always be better than the memory. It’s still hard to get use to not seeing all of those great people every day and I really do miss them. I still keep in touch though. I wish I could experience it all again or make my final few days last forever. Reality hit me as I sat on that plane, the fact that I’d left and tears welled up in my eyes. I wasn’t sad; I couldn’t be because I had the time of my life! Just the thought of having to wait a whole year to do Broadreach all over again is hard to bear though. I will forever cherish my memories of this first year at Broadreach, the best seventeen days of my life and totally glum free! But, I have no doubt that I will be back next year whether it be in the Grenadines, Baja, Fiji, the Red Sea, or some other exotic, beautiful place, ready to experience another fabulous time with Broadreach! Broadreach has shaped me and showed me more than adventure; they showed me what it’s like to have dreams come true. Do all good things really have to end? Well, in my case, only until next summer…