News: Children dive into water sports
Story by Christine Cabalo
MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII - Children can take a trip to another world without leaving Kaneohe Bay by joining the base marina’s water sports class held every Wednesday.
The class is one of several weekly youth programs held at the marina. Coordinators recently added an additional session in the afternoon to accommodate more students.
“This is a good alternative to other sports and physical activities,” said Michael Cervantes, a sailing instructor with the marina and one of the class instructors. “It’s unconventional and different from team sports.”
Children who are 8 and older can take the weekly three-hour sessions for a month, learning the basics of several water activities. No prior experience in water sports is needed, but Cervantes said attending children should be able to pass a basic swim test and feel comfortable in the water. Each session features a short section of classroom instruction at the marina before heading out.
“Usually we’ll have some destination at the end of each class,” he said. “Whether it’s at a beach on Chinaman’s Hat or somewhere else, it will be close by. How we get to the destination all depends on how far out it is. We’ll sail there or stand-up paddle, kayak or go snorkeling.”
Each session’s destination is also chosen due to changing weather conditions and how many students are in a class, said Zofia Soltys, who is also a sailing instructor and guides the class alongside Cervantes.
Soltys, who has been sailing since she was in elementary school, said learning water sports at a young age taught her many life skills. She said although children learn responsibility and skills found in other youth sports, the water sports classes offer something truly unique.
“They learn about biology and eco-science,” Soltys said. “In the water they end up seeing turtles and other sea creatures in their natural environment.”
During the previous class trip, 10-year-old student Skyler Nicholas said she enjoyed seeing fire worms and turtles. Without the class, Nicholas said she otherwise wouldn’t have learned how to kayak or stand-up paddle to see the sea creatures.
“I liked snorkeling last week when we sail boated to the second sandbar,” she said. “We saw reefs and there were a lot of different types of fish.”
Having the chance to observe the sea creatures up close reminded 11-year-old Collin Wood of subjects he studied in his marine biology schoolwork. He has learned about sea animals as well as the ocean floor, seeing some of the wildlife on the recent water sports trip.
“We saw a lot of snails and we studied those animals in the sea,” he said. “We also recognized some coral.”
Theresa Woods, whose spouse is in the Coast Guard, said she wanted to sign up her son Collin for the class because of its unique opportunities to explore and learn.
“We’re stationed in Hawaii for only a few years and it’s important to make most of that time,” she said. “We’ve been snorkeling on our own, but I think Collin has a more varied experience with marina staff than what we have done.”
Both she and Collin said the class brings about good social interaction with a fun activity. Collin Woods said he met children his own age had fun discovering new facts with the marina staff.
“I enjoyed exploring with my friends,” he said. “I liked the little tiny cave by the rocks (in Chinaman’s Hat), you could sit in it and hang out.”
Soon the marina staff will launch another adventure, this time for adults and children, when they host tours during their open house scheduled for Oct. 19, 2013 from 4 to 7 p.m. Boats will be headed out to Coconut Island, with seats available on a first-come, first-served basis.
For more information about the youth water sports class or other adult programs, call 254-7666.