I spent the second half of this week "herding cats". I'm the Young woman President in our little Branch here on St.Croix and having a weekly activity for these girls and getting them there can be real interesting. They really want to participate, but nobody has rides, their parents either don't have a car, car is not working, or parents are working. So I also get to be the bus service. I don't really mind, the kids are great, but some weeks I'm worn out.
This week we had a joint activity planned with the Young Men, we don't have a YM President at the Branch and our Branch President is spread a little thin and really doesn't understand the youth program so you guessed it, I get to plan all of that also, The second counselor in the Branch Presidency, is great,he will do whatever I tell him and is a big help (that would be Rick,of course). Anyway, after numerous texts, back and fourth, trying to find rides for everyone and getting them "to the church on time", we took ten kids out to Sandy Point, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Refuge here on island, last night. We had to be there at 7:45PM and were told to plan on staying until Midnight (Yeah, I know, my dream come true, being on the beach until midnight with 10 teenagers). We were on a Turtle Watch. This is the time of year that the giant Leatherback Sea Turtles come onto the beach in the night to lay their eggs. go go out and sit in the sand and wait, hoping to get lucky and actually see one. They have a Research Team who patrol the beach and will call you if they have one come ashore and then you hike down to the spot (the beach in the Refuge is 3 1/2 miles long) and hope you get there in time to see something.
So, last night they take us onto the beach and we sit down and our guide starts giving us the spiel about the Leatherbacks, the Research Team passes us by and we are told they didn't find anything but will make another sweep in 45 minutes. After less than 15 minutes on the beach we see a Giant Sea Turtle emerge from the water and make her way up onto the beach about 30 feet to our right, we are told to be very still and nobody can believe our luck that she came up so close to the spot were we were waiting. Then one of the kids says, "isn't that another turtle"; and sure enough another turtle emerges from the water and starts coming in our direction, she did veer to the left and planted herself about 10 feet to our left. within the next 5 minutes a third turtle started to emerge from the surf, this was phenomenal. Unfortunately, the third turtle thought better of it and returned to the water.
These creatures are magnificent. It was a most incredible experience to sit there quietly in the moonlight, 10 feet away from this totally awesome creature and experience a miracle. The Fish and Wildlife people try to remain pretty cool about the whole thing, but even they were in awe of the fact the the turtles came up so close to us. Once the turtle starts to lay her eggs and believe me there is a whole process of her digging the whole and getting everything situated before this can happen, she goes into a trance and were were able to go over and touch her and see her more closely. You cannot imagine! I don't have enough descriptive adjectives to describe the experience. You really have to see and experience this for yourself.
Back to having 10 teenagers on the beach at night. They're kids, and kids will be kids, but these kids are different. They are appreciative, kind and caring. They are totally in awe of their surroundings. They take care of each other and the leaders. They are polite beyond measure. Before we went onto the beach and were waiting at the parking area, I'm handing out water bottles and asking if they they one: one kid with his ipod plugged into one ear, with the hip-hop playing so loud, I can hear it, says to me "Yes, please. Are you kidding me. I didn't want to, but I am loving these kids and I guess I'll just have to add cat herding to my resume.