From Butler Bay in the west, to Cramer Park in the east, a week before Easter, many Crucian families make the beaches their home, camping out for as long as two weeks for some, or just four or so days for others. It is a tradition dating back at least thirty years, and although, thus far, no one I spoke to can tell me how it began; it is the thing that’s done.
Families and friends tend to camp together and form a cluster or tents that vary in size. While most people stick to basics, over the years, some families have gotten more elaborate bringing gas stoves and fridges from home and generator. In one campsite there was even a large tent designated for entertainment, and inside was a large TV, that reportedly was turned on at nights for the children. There are also porter-potties and makeshift showers at all the camps.
I have visited camp-sights at Dorsch, Salt River and Cramer Park, specifically and hung out with friends and enjoyed meals. As one Crucian senior said to me as we sat on chairs looking out at the ocean and nibbling on vegie burgers,
“I do this so I can forget about everything, including myself.”
Josetta, a mother and grandmother says, “I’ve been camping for over twenty years. My children grew up camping. Now the only baby we have is my four year-old grandson in the water with my daughter. It’s what we do every Easter for 7-10 days.”
Camping allows absolute freedom for the children –-two little ones, no more than four years old were in the water for the three hours I spent at one camp-site and their mother said they had been in the water all day.
There are various bands of children ranging in age and activity, splashing around in the sea, snorkeling, and engaging in other water and beach activity, including chasing and running. Even the pets enjoy this time, as leashed dogs strolls the beach with teenagers.
I stopped a few girls as they were running out the sea and heading towards one of the tents. I asked them if they were enjoying themselves. They affirmed in unison and their responses spilled out and over each other.
“We’ve been doing it since they were young, since third grade,” asserts Shania.
“It’s a family tradition,” adds Jahnaye.
“We do lots of things such as water sports, fishing, hiking and volley ball inserts Shandeah, obviously the leader if the pack.
“And we play board games, and sometimes we do storytelling,” adds the only boy in this group who runs off before telling me his name.
Although I have not camped during this season, I love seeing families and friends living next to the ocean and I enjoy spending the day on the beach with friends and sharing the amazing meals.
Even though living in St Croix, one is never far from the ocean; I imagine there is nothing like sleeping with the sea right in your ears and waking up and jumping right into its arms.
Easter Monday, a public holiday in St Croix, signals the end of this tradition. However, today, Tuesday, you can still see a handful of tents strewn on a few beaches –the true die-harders, soaking up one more of the good sea breeze.