By John Leadem
On an absolutely beautiful Saturday morning, 26 Neighborhood Outreach Connection (NOC) students from the Marsh Pointe and Parkview neighborhoods, along with 6 chaperons, met bright and early to embark on a significant and exciting adventure. A hearty breakfast of Bojangle’s biscuits was enjoyed as the group traveled by chartered bus from Beaufort to the Port Royal Maritime Center on the Chechessee River.
The NOC contingent was greeted warmly by Naturalist Rachel Jones who would take the children through the exhibits. The group was divided into two groups; one stayed at the Center to experience the fascinating exhibits (the kids loved the story of Snowflake, the albino dolphin), while the others donned life vests and boarded the Spartina, a specially designed ecotourism boat.
Captain Amber Kuehn took the excited children on an hour-long adventure of the Port Royal Sound area and shared with them her love of the maritime environment. Both groups were able to view the playful dolphins swimming right beside the boat as the Captain skillfully maneuvered the craft for maximum visibility. The kids cheered as the dolphins entertained them with blowhole breathing snorts. Egrets and other Sound denizens were spotted and identified by the Captain and passengers. For all but three of the children this was their very first time ever on a boat much less to see a dolphin up close. When Captain Amber asked what the kids wanted to do next, they all shouted “GO FAST!” in unison.
Concurrently, the children at the Center were treated to hands-on experiences led by Naturalist Rachel at the wildlife tanks and other exhibits. Many thanks go to Rachel and Captain Amber for making the morning such a wonderful experience for the NOC kids. The Women in Philanthropy of the Maritime Center awarded scholarships to the group which funded the entire cost of the boat outings, so a special appreciation also goes to them.
The group boarded the bus for their next adventure: a visit to the Upper Crust restaurant for a real sit-down lunch. Again, for the vast majority of these children, this was a first-time experience for them. The children enjoyed ordering off the menu and being served by the pleasant and patient wait staff. Pizzas, pasta dishes, cheeseburgers, and a variety of other offerings (the bottled root beer and cream sodas were a big hit) were enjoyed. One of the participants, named Solomon, loved the pickles so much he was treated to an entire plateful. Many thanks to the management and server team at the Upper Crust who made this a special experience for the NOC kids and chaperons so wonderful.
Besides the Women in Philanthropy of the Maritime Center and our anonymous benefactor who treated us all to lunch this adventure would not have been possible without a generous donation from The First Presbyterian Church of Beaufort. They were first in line to fund the outing and maintained a great interest in its success. They now know, as do the other benefactors, that the day was nothing short of a great success and a wonderful experience for these deserving children. Many thanks to all our supporters in the community.
Top photo: Students from the Marsh Pointe and Parkview Neighborhood Outreach Programs enjoy their very first time on a boat with Captain Amber Kuehn at the helm from the Port Royal Maritime Center.