2019 Kids in Action Youth Scuba Summer Camp certifies 38 new divers

Tuesday, July 30th, 2019

Ambergris Caye has 38 newly certified divers thanks to the annual two-week program via the Kids in Action Youth Scuba Summer Camp. Organized by the San Pedro Tour Operators Association (SPTOA) in collaboration with the San Pedro Tourist Guide Association (SPTGA), the camp aims to teach and certify children in diving so they can better appreciate the natural marine resources surrounding Ambergris Caye.
For the first week of the camp, from Monday, July 15th to Saturday, July 17th, the children were engaged in educational sessions from 5PM to 7PM at the San Pedro High School (SPHS). Facilitated by SPTGA President and organizer of the summer camp Everette Anderson, SPTGA President Billy Leslie, and Enes Ramirez from Belize Diving Adventures, children learned the theoretical part of diving and the importance of doing it properly. The students further received a presentation from Hol Chan Marine Reserve Environmental Educator Mariela Archer, who gave a brief background on Hol Chan and the importance of protecting and preserving the marine reserve.
In the second week of the camp, from Monday, July 22nd to Friday, July 26th, children were assigned to different island dive instructors who facilitated them with their diving classes for the practical part of the course. During the last day of the summer camp on Saturday, July 27th, all Kids in Action participants along with members from Hol Chan Sport Fishing Summer course headed to Mosquito Coast, South of Ambergris Caye at 8AM to conduct a beach clean-up activity. Garbage collected during the clean- up included 27 old shoes, 20 glass objects, 173 plastic bottles, 150 bottle caps/stoppers, and 41 pieces of Styrofoam.
Afterward, a short presentation by Hamerlin Flores was held, who spoke of the negative effects of non-biodegradable products on the environment, proper garbage disposal and how they can do their part to protect and preserve the environment and marine life.

At midday, the students enjoyed a delicious lunch and then headed to Ramon’s Village Resort Dive Shop where they, along with their instructors, departed to Hol Chan Marine Reserve for the last dive as a group. From 1PM to 4PM, all the new 38 certified divers along with the various instructors enjoyed a fun and refreshing dive.

At 7PM, a short ceremony was held at SPHS as to close off the fun and educational 2019 Kids in Action Youth Scuba Summer Camp. Leslie and Anderson shared a few words on how important the camp is and how much fun the kids had. Parents and guardians watched a video of all the activities their children got to engage in throughout the two weeks of the camp.
Anderson shared with The San Pedro Sun that the camp was a success and he is proud of all the children that completed this course and are now certified divers. “Our vision is to create a sustainable educational and coral conservation partnership program. We can offer educational opportunities for the youth while protecting our coral reef ecosystem,” he said.
2019 kids in Action who got certified as Jr Open Water and Open Water Diver are Julianna Nunez, Azul Alamilla, Bianca Narvaez, Evelin Pichola, Caroline Espat, Dylan Coleman, Eleazar Castillo, Tristain Delcid, Jeffrey McPherson, Tristain Gamez, Orlando Uk, Cesar Valladarez, Samira Perez, Suseli Lopez, Eduardo Carcamo, Rene Milan, Darren Jimenez, Jillian Duarte, Shanice Teck, Zion Thompson, Hamerly/in Flores, Kenton Belis, Salvador Caliz and Aida Cha. Four teachers also participated and were certified as open water divers; they are Paulina Suazo, Shakira Coleman, Saulo Quetzal, and Elvis Santos.
Also, past Kids in Action of 2017 and 2018 were certified as PADI Coral Reef Conservation Specialty, which included Brittney Garbutt, Travis Najarro, Luis Munoz, Andres Perez, Katherine Sansorez, Angelique Velasquez, Aisha Ysaguirre, Joeshan Ysaguirre, Limairie Bowen, and Alyssa Martin.
These new divers are now able to assist and volunteer in the different marine projects held by the Hol Chan Marine Reserve and other environmental organizations. Aside from learning diving, participants also learned about volunteerism and information about marine wildlife around the island and within the barrier reef. This can also be the beginning of a career path for the youngsters, who are interested in working in the tourism and marine conservation industry.

The diving program has been around for a decade now, and it aims to pass down skills from older professionals to the younger generation of today. This year’s camp cost over $33,000 BZ to conduct; however, thanks to kind volunteers and donations from the many businesses and dive shops on the island, the annual event is free to the lucky students. This year’s program would not have been possible without the support of sponsors and instructors. Special thanks goes out to all the instructors for this year’s camp, which included Adolfo Ayuso, Rolando Caceres, Billy Leslie, Felicito Castellanos, Rudy Duran, Jaime "Chino" Vasquez, Yamin Tillett, Steve Bowen, Joshua Morales, Everette Andersen, Enes Ramirez, Neftalie Lemus, Juan Guillen, Zain Tillett, and Ernest Leslie. Dive shops represented were Arden Oh Dive Shop, Amigos Del Mar, Ambergris Divers, Belize Diving Adventures, Belize Pro Divers, Island Divers Belize, Ramons Village Resort Dive Shop, Sea Star Belize, Scuba Steve, Scuba School Belize, Tuff-E-Nuff and Reef Adventures. Thank you to the business and organizations that contributed to the camp success, which are SPTGA, SPTOA, Hol Chan Marine Reserve, Belize Chamber Project, Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI), Divers Alert Network (DAN), Dr. Daniel Gonzales, Dr. Giovanni Solorzano, Teacher Elvis Santos, Monica Gamez, The San Pedro Sun, La Isla Bonita Yacht Club and LC Distributors.

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