Discovery Club

Discovery Club is an exciting program for young members of The Bahamas National Trust. Since it began in 1995, it immediately became very popular. Club members participate in a fun and rewarding journey and discover the beauty, uniqueness and fragile nature of The Bahamas. 

The importance of volunteering is emphasized and a wide array of opportunities makes this a fun part of Discovery’s Club program. Members also acquire a better understanding of the responsibilities and programs of the Bahamas National Trust. 

Discovery Club incorporates environmental education with other disciplines such as, art ecology, and history and timeless favorites such as camping, exploration, and astronomy. Field trips provide hands-on experiences and social events complement the program. 

Discovery Club members attend club meetings, wear a smart uniform, and participate in many different activities. Chapters of the club are being established around the Bahamas. 

Club spirit and philosophy 
All Discovery Club members are BNT members in their own right. Club leaders share the accomplishments of the BNT so that Discovery Club members develop pride in their association with this organization and the strides the BNT is taking in wildlife and ecosystem protection through national park management and development. 

Club members are drawn to this program because they have an interest in nature. This program seeks to deepen and expand that interest. Club meetings are not meant to be classroom sessions. Instead, Discovery Club promotes the philosophy of fun-learning. 

While emphasis is placed on learning, the “fun factor” should not be neglected. For the reason, hands-on activities, environmental games, camping and “the outdoors as a class room” are stressed. 
People retain: 10% of what they hear, 30% of what they read, 50% of what they see and 90% of what they do. 

The logo of the club is symbolic of the linkages of Discovery Club to the BNT. The flamingo itself illustrates the conservation success the BNT and the Bahamas has realized with our national bird – the West Indian Flamingo. The flamingo flickered on the edge of extinction in the 1950’s with about 5,000 birds, but now under the management of the BNT the colony numbers more than 50,000 birds! Thus the flamingo wears the BNT hat to show pride in this accomplishment. The flamingo is also a component of the BNT crest so, naturally it was adopted as a dominant part of the Discovery Club logo. 

The Bahamas National Trust has a long history of pioneering innovative educational programs for young people. Discovery Club was created in response to a need for a continuous educational program that fosters environmental stewardship in Bahamian youth. 

Discovery Club was introduced in 1995. The brainchild of the Trust’s Deputy Director, Discovery Cub combines concepts and highly successful elements of renowned programs such as Boy Scouts of America, Outward Bound, and the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Program (now the Governor General’s Youth Award Program). The Club’s goal is to help its young participants acquire the knowledge, values and skills needed to generate respect for people, nature and history. Several features make Discovery Club unique in the Bahamas: 
  1. Volunteering Ethic 
  2.  Environmental Education 
  3.  Progressive Badge Program 
  4.  Camping Trips
  5.  Outdoor Classroom 

The success of the club was always limited to the fact that it was being run for one group of children out of the BNT headquarters. Today, chapters of the Club are being established around The Bahamas and are now operating from schools. This way the club has now multiplied its out reach to many more children. 

The Discovery Club is age specific and the members are separated into different age groups which are called levels. Members may join at one level in their first year and move into a new level in their second year. This move based on age is encouraged to ensure that activities are not above or below a member’s capabilities or interests. Ages 7-9 are entered into the first level which is known as the “Explorers”. Ages 10-12 are entered into the second level which is known as the “Guardians”. The BNT now has a third level called the “Navigators” which encompasses ages 14 through to 25 years and is more researched based. 

All activities in Discovery Club lead to Badges. Badges are the Club’s awards of success and are received upon the successful completion of a Badge Program. At Club meetings and Club events members participate in specific activities related to a specific Badge Program. Each Badge has a picture symbol that represents that subject area. Badges earned over 6 weeks. In total they can take 7.5 – 9 hours to cover the work required to earn a badge which is achieved over six 1.5 hour meetings. Different badges can be earned each term of Discovery Club and it is possible to earn 4 badges in one year. If a member misses any of the clubs it is their responsibility to get the material covered during his/her absence. Special badges like camping take longer to earn – sometimes up to two years. 

Why does the BNT conduct a training program for the Discovery club leaders? 
The training program was actually requested by the leaders themselves to help them to understand the objectives and running of the Discovery Club. During the training program potential leaders can ask questions and try the club activities for themselves. 

What does the training program involve? 
As the Discovery Club involves a lot of field trips as well as camping, the training program also incorporates these into the schedule. This way, leaders will know what to expect. The leaders will learn how to snorkel as well as general water safety protocols. Leaders are also given several presentations by different speakers on various environmental issues in the Bahamas and on the local flora and fauna. This better equips the leaders for teaching the various components to the club members. Leaders learn what is expected of them during the running of their club unit. They learn about how the Discovery Club progress reporting system works and any of the financial procedures.

When and where does the training program take place?
The Discovery Club Symposium, as it is officially referred to, takes place during one week during the summer. Times are usually from 9am - 3pm, however, these times are subject to change depending on tides and the field trips involved. 

Would you like to become a Discovery Club leader in your school?
  1. First contact the Education Office of The BNT headquarters. Either by email or telephone.
  2. All potential leaders must attend a Discovery Club Symposium.
  3. At the Symposium you will receive the initial documents needed to start a club. These include a Club Flyer, Waiver forms, Letters for the Parents and a Letter for the Principle.
  4. Once the forms are turned into the BNT, with the registration fees, the BNT office will begin to process your information and materials will be sent out to you.

Would you like to join a Discovery Club? There may be one in your school or close by to join.