37 Kids in Action complete Summer Camp

Monday, August 19th, 2013

Kids in Action Scuba-and-Fishing Camp-2The Kids in Action Summer Camp organized by the San Pedro Tourist Guide Association (SPTGA) came to a successful closure on Thursday August 15th. A total of 37 people, mostly children, participated in the two week, summer camp. The camp was divided into two groups, 32 did scuba diving and 5 learned fly fishing. The purpose of the camp was to train the participants in key areas that are important to the economic development of the island. At the same time, it was intended to pass down skills from older professionals to the young generation so that they may be able to apply their knowledge in a sustainable way.

According to Phillip “Billy” Leslie, President of the SPTGA, with over 2000 children out on vacation, the island lacks healthy activities for children to stay out of trouble. “In today’s world, we are failing in putting the right programs for our children when they are out of school. With the limited resources, and the help of our partners, we want to be able to help put programs in place that are practical and at the same time related to the island’s activities. It will help us look and take advantage of the good things that exist in our society. We don’t want our children to be exposed to the bad part of the island; we want them to be exposed to healthy diving and fishing and these types of activities so that in the future they can be productive citizens,” said Leslie in his remarks before handing out the certificates of completion. And while Leslie gave a sober reflection of the reality as it relates to the lack of activities, those fortunate to attend the two weeks camp had a blast.

Leslie explained that the camp was geared primarily to students who were chosen by the school’s administration. Joining the chosen students were and four policemen. The diving students learned the required techniques needed to scuba dive. From handling diving gear, to adjusting equipment before diving, under water techniques, breathing underwater, dealing with nature and coral reef as well as resurfacing from underwater – all very important lesson when scuba diving were learned.

The fly fishing students’ experience was a bit different. It entailed making their own flies for fishing, preparing their rods, casting with a fly, identifying fish, identifying flats and other key fishing areas, maneuvering in fishing grounds, balancing a boat as well as fishing in flats.

The students in both the diving and fishing camps had fun while at the same time learning new things which they are excited to try on their own. “The experience was good and we enjoyed being with all the other kids just having fun. I had fun doing new things underwater, stuff we don’t usually get the opportunity to do. What I enjoyed the most is learning to dive and getting the opportunity to see all the marine animals. I plan to go out at sea and apply my diving skills more often now that I am certified,” said Kathleen Hendricks, one of two students from New Horizon Seventh Day Adventist School that attended the camp. For his part, Jerry Reyes of San Pedro Roman Catholic School explained that despite his challenges, he had fun learning to fly fish. “I feel good. It was a wonderful experience to be able to learn to do fly fishing. I learned to cast my rod and catch a fish. One of the basic techniques we were taught was how to tie our fly to our fishing line. We also learned to make our own fly, which is essential for any fly fishing guide. The most complicated part of the camp is learning to cast, but I have gotten over that challenge.”

For the four law enforcement officers, the two-week camp taught them new skills that can be useful in the work of the police department. One of the officers that got certified in diving was Superintendent of Police Luis Castellaños, head of the Coastal Executive Unit and Officer in Charge of the San Pedro Police Formation “The importance for us in attending these types of training is because should there be an incident that requires diving skills, we will be prepared to send our investigators. We will be able to participate in the dive because we are certified. This program also serves one of the areas known as Community Policing. If you noticed, we participated with the children in class room activates as well as in the field doing our dives. I would recommend any officer who has the opportunity to learn the skills of diving to do so. Besides being an additional knowledge brought to the police force, you get to enjoy the beauty and experience the underwater world,” explained Superintendent Castellanos.

Speaking to the San Pedro Sun, Leslie explained that camp cost over $30,000 BZ. However, some of the expenses were offset through in-kind donation made by many of the dive shops and fishermen. In addition, dive guides and instructors also gave of their time to train the campers. One such instructor that gave of his time in schooling a few of the

participants was Rudy Duran. “It is always a pleasure to pass on these diving skills and sports which is very healthy if taught properly. It is also important that we teach them and pass on our career to them because some of us will soon find ourselves retiring from these activities. I think that we need to show them how to dive properly and at the same time do it in an eco-friendly way – in a way that they can earn a living in the future but in a sustainable way,” explained Duran.
Following the final diving and fishing experiences, the participants along with their parents, were invited to a special ceremony where they were given certificates of participation. Those that completed the dive course were also invited to take an identification picture which will enable them to get their Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) Diving Card, officially certifying them as junior scuba divers. The dive instructors as well as the sponsors were also presented with certificates of appreciation for their support. “With the support of our partners, we hope that we can make the camp event bigger and better next year,” said Leslie.

After the ceremony, the participants and those in attendance got to enjoy sodas and pastries to celebrate the completion of the camp. For the first time the camp had the support of the PADI and the Divers Alert Network (DAN) who certified all divers. Each diver was also insured, free of charge, in the event of any diving accident, for up $250,000. The SPTGA gives all the participants, volunteers and sponsors thanks for making the camp a success.

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