International School’s field visit to Scubalov
We had a group of 20 children from a renowned International School visit us for a scuba diving oriented field trip from the 27th of April till the 1st of May, 2018. The best part about this group of 11 to 16 year olds was that they were a mix of certified divers as well as new Open Water students, all ready to dive the beautiful reefs around Havelock Island.
Theory of Boredom
Teaching kids how to dive is a bit of a challenge. Although they have no fear and can’t wait to get into the water, completing the theory component of the course is not always something that excites them. For them to become safe and comfortable divers they need to master both the academic and practical parts of the Open Water Course which includes theory, confined sessions and open water dives. Therefore to make it easier for them as well as for us we decided to break up their course by starting with one weekend of pool training in Mumbai. We taught them the science of scuba diving (academics or theory) and practiced all diving skills or exercises with them in the swimming pool (Confined Training). This way, they could also complete their exam beforehand and leave dive-ready for the fun part of their diving adventure in the Andamans.
Tidal pool party
On arrival in Port Blair, the children visited the Light & Sound Show at the Cellular jail in the evening before their travel to Havelock the next day. Once here, they got to begin their Havelock journey by participating in an interactive Biodiversity & Marine Eco-System Presentation on the Andaman Islands. The next two afternoons were spent exploring live examples that were covered in the presentation through snorkeling sessions and Intertidal walks. The latter was conducted at Radhanagar Beach (beach #7) during full low tide. The little tide pools on the exposed coral reef made the perfect outdoor classroom to study small fish and crustaceans. The walk was followed by some fun and games on the beach.
Going to fish school
Havelock Island is one of the best places to learn scuba diving because of its sheltered bays and reefs where one can dive under safe conditions. It also has a lot of sandy beaches as opposed to rocky ones that are great for swimming as well as relaxing. The waters in the Andaman Islands are bursting with large varieties of fish and coral. On this trip, not only did the children learn diving, but also how to identify fish and coral and interact with the environment in a responsible manner.
The children were split into three groups on the basis of their diving certification; Open Water certified divers (fun divers), Scuba Diver certified divers (upgrading to OW) and Open Water students. There were eight Open Water Certified divers who had come to the Andamans for some guided dives; most with only a handful of logged dives. Our dive leaders showed them around different dive sites, which also helped them improve their comfort and diving skills. There were four certified Scuba Divers (halfway to OW) who completed the remaining course to become Open Water Certified. The first day we brushed up on their diving skills and taught them new ones, after which they completed their two remaining OW dives along with some additional fun dives. The last group had eight PADI Referral students who had completed their initial training in Mumbai and were now prepared for the fun part of their course, so they got to directly do their four OW dives over two days. On the last day they had two amazing dives at The Slope and Turtle Beach.
Acknowledgements and goodbyes
Eight of our dive professionals were solely dedicated to the 20 children, for whom we made the groups small, so that we could guarantee them a personalized and safe diving experience. We are happy to say that none of the children missed a dive, all 12 students got Open Water Certified and all of them had the time of their life. Thanks to our hospitality partner Sea Shell who provided them with a great stay, yummy food and a safe haven in the resort under the watchful eye of their chaperones. Thanks to Tanya and Mandira for being their mummy, dive professionals JD, 42, Jobin, Wini, Ashel and Dipesh for all the attention and guidance, our boat boys Rohit, Arbin, Saw Lermu, Saniel, Johnson, Island and Saurabh for all the heavy lifting and Lacadives for your pool training assistance.