By Nikki Jennings
Children’s Club Coordinator
The Museum Children’s Club is always looking for new ways we can explore and learn about our islands, our history, our culture and environment. Over the years we have studied the sand on our beaches, found and measured all the cannons on Grand Turk, made a model of Front Street and so much more. Recently I started to think that we hadn’t yet explored how our islands work. What exactly do they do in the courthouse or at the dock? How does the post office get our mail and do they really have pigs on the prison farm? With this in mind, the Children’s Club has embarked on a of series outings to find out how our island works.
Our first field trip in this series was to JAGS MacCartney International Airport on May 24th. Mr. Shivago Missick, the airport manager, took us on a very informative tour. First we were given a thorough briefing on how airport security works. Security officers taught us how they do body searches and we were allowed to see what our bags look like in the scanner. In the departure lounge we learned how important it is for the runway to stay clear of animals and how migrating birds can cause serious problems to the aircraft. This being the month of May, birds are foremost on the runway supervisor’s mind. From there we walked through the international arrivals building and learned what immigration officers do and we stopped at Caicos Express where Ms. Williams gave us a little talk about tickets and boarding passes.
Once we finished touring the airport Mr. Missick said with a big smile: “And now we are off to the most exciting part of the airport – the fire station.” Little did the children know what was in store for them. When we arrived at the fire station, which is all the way across on the other side of the runway from the terminal building, the entire staff of the fire station and two fire trucks were waiting for us.
Station Manager Charles Tipton explained to us exactly what they do if there is an emergency. We learned that no plane can land or take off if the fire station is not ready, and, if there is a fire in town and the team is off fighting a blaze, the airport is shut down for the time being. Then he pointed to the two fire trucks, explained how they work and asked if the children would like to ride in the truck! How could they resist? Thirteen children had a chance to ride the fire truck, with its siren wailing and warning lights flashing, and watch water shoot out the front nozzle. What could be more exciting than that!
You are not allowed to take photographs in any secure area of the airport, and so I was not able to take pictures of the children learning how to do body searches. But I really wanted to take a picture of the children with the fire fighters. So we stepped outside the gates and took a picture there. In the front is a fireman who very kindly accepted to put on all his gear for us, including the face mask and oxygen tank, and explained how it all worked.
Thank you to the entire staff of the airport and the fire station for having welcomed us so warmly. I am sure our visit will long be remembered. I’d also like to thank Etienne Leblanc of Caribbean Tours and Adventure for donating his bus and driver to make this excursion possible.
The Turks and Caicos National Museum Children’s Club is open to all the children of Grand Turk between the ages of 8 and 12. We usually meet on the 2nd Saturday of each month. For more information please call 946-2160.