“I see trains!” exclaimed six-year old Solanio, staring at the engines 500 metres below us. I picked my way through the crowd to the place where he lay, splayed out like a giant starfish, on the glass floor of the CN Tower. Some of the kids in our group weren’t too keen on standing in this adrenaline-spiking spot, but Solanio was fearless. I peered between my feet through the glass. The entire city of Toronto lay below us, just waiting to be explored.
The story of our Canadian adventure begins several months ago, when the Rotary Club of St. Catharines, Ontario, invited the Player Development SXM team to visit them in Canada. The Player Development Program is a Little League team that doubles as a free after-school mentoring and tutoring program. Lezlie Murch, a member of the Rotary Club of St. Catharines, was on St. Maarten when she met Tom and Lisa Burnett, who run the Player Development Program. Inspired by the spirit of the youth, she decided to ask her Rotary Club and two other Rotary Clubs in District 7090 to sponsor a team trip to Canada. They agreed, and with the help of Rotary Clubs of SXM, Windward Islands Bank, Xerox, Deskount, The Daily Herald, 721 News, Grand Jewelers, and several private donors, the dream became a reality.
That is how I, along with three other chaperones, three parents, and ten kids came to be standing almost half a kilometre above the city of Toronto. As we rode the glass elevator back to street level, enthusiastic conversation turned to the things we had already seen and the things still to come. The kids discussed what they would write about in their journals that night. Each evening, the kids had to write a page or two about their experiences that day. In fact, the journals turned out so well that I’ll let their words do the storytelling.
“I woke up at 6:00am. I was so excited to go to Niagara Falls. We waited to get on the boat for hours [editor’s note: 45 minutes]. We went under the fall. We all loved it and got wet a lot. When I took off my coat, only my sleeve was wet.” –Julius King, 14.
“I stood in the front [of the boat] for a better view and to get wet from the waterfall. The Niagara Falls was beautiful in person. I also learned a lot about the Niagara Falls. ” -Theodore Wilson, 14.
“I got close. It was beautiful.” –Solanio Cornett, 6.
“We walked to Bird Kingdom, where we saw birds, snakes, turtles, fishes, spiders and skunks.” –Tre Cosaque, 15.
“We saw and learned a lot of the birds.” –Theodore Wilson, 14.
“We a saw a lot of birds. They showed their wings.” –Julian King, 11.
Halton Railway Museum
“We all got ready and set on the road. Coach Lisa drove us to the Halton County Radial Railway. When we arrived at the place, we went on a train. An old street car. It was kinda slow. Then we went into the train museum and saw some old trains. They were really big.” –Tre Cosaque, 14.
“At the train museum, we took a 20-minute drive on the train. I enjoyed the scenery. Then we went on a tour and learned a lot about their trains. We also learned a lot about the history of the trains and their origins.” –Theodore Wilson, 14.
“After a long and interesting tour from Brianna from Canada, we had ice cream.” –Julius King, 14.
“We saw lots of different trains. Even got to ride some of them. We had a lot of fun.” –Triston Arthur, 9.
“Today we went on a train. It was fun.” –Solanio Cornett, 6.
Science Centre of Ontario.
“Today we went to Ontario Science Centre. We went everywhere in the Science Center even to the bottom of the Science Center. We saw a T-Rex like from Jurassic World, Bumble Bee, camel made of so many things, Dr. Frankenstein [Einstein?] made of bread, shrunken heads. Then there was a ‘grab the jewel.’ The jewel was a hologram. After that, we watched an I-Max movie called ‘Beautiful Planet.’ It was about an astronaut in space watching earth. Watching it at night and morning.” Adonis Sprott, 12.
“The first thing that caught my eye was the dinosaur.” –Julius King, 14.
“I liked the tall man.” –Solanio Cornett, 6.
“Me and Tristen got shocked.” -Skijlaar, 12.
Harriet Tubman’s Church and School
“Hi my name is Triston and I’m a baseball player. I’m 9 years old. I’m in Canada with my team for pleasure and learning. I visited the Harriet Tubman school statue. I also saw the Underground Railroad and St. Catherines Heritage Church. The statue is located in the Harriet Tubman School. It is her in a chair. My team and I surrounded the statue and took a picture. To escape slavery, she followed the North Star. She was a courageous woman. The men dressed as women and the women dressed as men to escape slavery. At the church, there are readings about how she escaped slavery. One of them shows where and when she was born. She was born in Maryland in 1820. She died in 1913. Peg Leg Joe taught them the song ‘Follow the Drinking Gourd’. The song explained where the Big Dipper and the North Star was. They jumped from trees to trees and lakes to lakes. The reason they jumped to trees to trees is because there were tracks on them. They swam because the dogs they sent can’t sniff in water. At night, they followed the North Star. Harriet Tubman helped slavery end.” –Triston Arthur, 9.
Welland Canal Locks
“We went to the Welland Canal. We went to the museum. Then we saw a boat and the water drained.” –Lewis, 14.
“We went to the canal. We saw the boat come in, and then they locked the gate and lower the water.” –Skijlaar, 11.
“The ships moved to different water levels. It takes 45 minutes to move [a boat] up and down and it’s really amazing to see it up close.” –Tre Cosaque, 15.
Little League Game
When a Little League team from Sint Maarten visits Canada, what do they do? They play hard, of course. I’m so proud of our team, The Daily Herald. They consisted of five 14- or 15-year-olds, five 9- to 11-year-olds, and a six-year old. They faced a team of 14- and 15-year-olds without a single qualm, and they dominated on the field. Someday, you might see some of these guys in the major leagues! Here’s Little King, one of our 10-year-olds, reporting on the game.
“Today we went to a baseball game, The Daily Herald vs. Blue Jays of St. Catherines. 1st batter: Triston. Walk. 2nd batter, Little King, walked. 3rd batter Tre hit a single. 4th batter Big King hit the two runs batted in. When we got three outs, Triston was the starting pitcher. Little King was the catcher. The ball one could have passed, but I blocked it. A boy hit the ball. Herald made an error. He ran to second base after the next batter came to bat. The boy on second, he stole 3rd. I got the ball and I threw one time. We win over St. Catherines Blue Jays 11-7. SXM proud.” –Julian King, 11.
Yes, these boys certainly did make SXM proud! Way to represent your country, team! It’s not so much that they won – it’s the hard work they put in and the courage it takes to go up against bigger kids. It’s the good sportsmanship, the encouragement, and the confidence. This team makes me proud all the time!
Downtown Toronto-CN Tower, Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, and Blue Jays Game
“We went on a train. The train’s name is Go Transit. We went to Toronto.” -Julian King, 10.
“We went to the CN Tower, Ripley’s Aquarium, and a Blue Jay’s game. The CN Tower was really cool. The elevator ride was a little long. When we reached the top, you could see everything on Toronto. Next was the glass floor. It was scary at first, but when I stepped on it; it was amazing. You’re basically standing to your death. Next was the game. My favourite team, the Blue Jays, played a little off and gave up a lead-off home run. Blue Jays lose 9-2.” –Tre Cosaque, 15.
“We all like the view of the CN Tower.” –Triston Arthur, 9.
“In the sea aquarium, we saw sharks, seahorse, and jellyfish ... It was my first baseball game. I loved watching the players play.” –Julius King, 14.
Meeting an Author at Niagara Academy of Tennis
In Miriam Laundry’s book I Can Believe in Myself, Molly believes she can’t speak in public. As she goes through the day, she realizes that many of her classmates say “I can’t” about things Molly knows they can do. She comes up with an idea: everyone should write down what they think they can’t do, shred the paper, and then go for it. During the workshop, each one of us shredded an “I Can’t” statement. Theodore later wrote in his journal: “Coach Tom told us about Miriam Laundry. We then went to the Tennis Academy and met Miriam and we had a workshop with her. We also went through one of her books. We also got to help her choose her next book cover.”
The day after the workshop, we visited a park with a ropes course. Theo said, “Oh, I can’t do that. That’s way too high.” So he stayed behind. After a few minutes, he changed his mind. He told us that he had thought about what Miriam said, and decided to give it a try. Not only did he go all the way up, he had a lot of fun doing it!
“We went to Safari Niagara which is a zoo. First we saw a bird show that had owls, hawks and falcons. A lady showed us different species of birds. And then I saw more animals. I saw tigers, bears, lions, parrots, macaws, foxes, tapirs and camels. When we reached, we took a train and saw flamingos. I think at first we couldn’t look at one bird because a skunk went inside the cage. By the rhino’s exhibit, I rode a buggy whilst watching emus. Then we ate hot dogs and hamburgers and I climbed a huge jungle gym.” –Theodore Wilson, 14.
“We saw everything from emus to tigers. I went on a giant jungle gym with others from the group.” –Zack Brook, 15.
“The apes were very excited to see us. They were running up and down in their cages.” –Julius King 14.
Magic Show and Fireworks
“We went to a magic show with Mr. Greg Frewin. He did lot of magic tricks. He did levitation, he made stuff disappear; he made a tiger with a trick. Then we walked to the Ferris Wheel and we went to Niagara Falls to see it light up. And we watched the fireworks. Then we walked back to the cars and we went.” –Skijlaar, 11.
“Mr. Frewin magically appeared in a car … whooOOoo … birds came from nowhere.” –Adonis Sprott, 12.
“The best one I like, the man disappeared and appeared somewhere else.” –Julian King, 10.
“The trip was almost over. We went to a campsite [Camp Wetaskiwin]. It’s very nice. We played ‘Capture the Flag’ in the wild bush! It was really fun until I bruised my side. I got so many cuts as well, but it was worth it. After, we dove into the pool to cool off, which was nice from all that running. When we cooled enough, we had dinner on the fire. Tin foil dinner, where we put chicken, onion, potatoes, and vegetables in the tin, wrapped it up and put it into the fire. It turned out to be delicious. I would surely do it again.” –Tre Cosaque, 15.
“No one was left unscathed.” –Theo, 14.
“A hot summer day in Canada, and the parking lots at Marineland are relatively empty. Going in, it looks like a big amusement park at first glance, but after walking around for a day, you can see how much there really is to do. Within the first few hours, we had seen belugas playing in their tanks, and even spoken with a lady whose job was to watch mother belugas and their babies swim around, and jot down everything they do in her books. Feeding the belugas is quite an experience; they swim up and put their heads on the edge of their pool, mouths agape, waiting for you to throw in a small fish. After feeding time came the show. Watching the dolphins and seals do their acts, and hearing that certain behaviours take weeks or even months to learn, it’s kind of crazy to think about. For me, the most memorable ride was the sky screamer, which shoots you up into the air, giving you amazing views of the landscape, and then leaves you weightless on the way down. Lines were so short, you could get off a ride, and get in line again to be on the very next run. From feeding jelly to dolphins, and feeding popcorn to bears, Marineland was quite an experience to be remembered.” –Zack Brook, 15.
Blue Jay’s Game
We ended our trip with another day at the Roger’s Center to watch the Blue Jays play. Packed into a stadium with almost as many people as the entire population of Sint Maarten, we cheered and danced and hollered with the masses as the Jays began to take the lead. Finally, a huge cheer went up from the crowd as the Jays scored their winning run! To top it off, the kids got to run the bases after the game. Who knows? Maybe someday, they’ll be back on those bases as players for the Toronto Blue Jays. For now, they’re taking what they learned in Canada about marine life, science, history, and believing in themselves and are applying it to their lives right here in Sint Maarten. Thanks to all that helped make this trip happen, especially the Rotary Clubs of St. Catharines, Niagara Falls and Grimsby.
Contributed by Breana Johnson, 3rd Culture Wife Blog