During the school holidays in January, PADI Master Instructor, Marc Thompson conducted a number of PADI Bubblemaker programs with local children to introduce them to the underwater world and help them to gain an intimate appreciation of the delicate and critical marine environment that surrounds the Australian coastline.
Marc first introduced local children aged from 8 to 12 years to diving at Clovelly in the Eastern suburbs of Sydney. These first students formed the founding members of the Clovelly Kids Dive Club (CK-DC) est. 2014.
Clovelly Bay is a part of the Bronte-Coogee aquatic reserve and many local children spend a large part of their childhood in the waters and rock ledges surrounding Clovelly Beach and the adjoining Gordon’s Bay….home to the famous underwater nature trail.
After the initial PADI Bubblemaker experiences in a swimming pool, the nervous excitement of the kids quickly turned into squeals of laughter and inquisitive conversations came from more parents in the area as they inquired about the potential of their children experiencing SCUBA in a safe and fun environment. While delighted parents looked on in awe, the most common questions came from the younger brothers and sisters repeatedly asking “when can we have a go?”
Meanwhile the first CK-DC members were quickly adapting to their underwater adventures. Marc says, “It helped a lot by having my daughter as a role model and motivator to calm the early nerves. Before too long, the kids made the pool their playground as they explored every corner, nook and cranny. Underwater baseball, ‘loop the hoop’ and ‘rocket ships’ were games which helped them to experience how their bodies respond to the weightlessness of the aquatic world.”
The next adventure took them to the beautiful and protected Boat Harbour in Bendalong located on the South Coast of NSW. It was here that the CK-DC recruited its next 5 members to experience SCUBA.
The club members thought it was a great idea to make a pledge that every time they dived, they would make certain to learn one interesting fact about the environment they had dived in – AND to share what they had learned with at least one other person. With this inspiring concept, the CK-DC now totalling 16 members, decided to make their pledge a part of the club’s constitution!
The conditions in Boat Harbour offered perfect swimming pool like conditions and gave them the opportunity to get up close and personal with the resident Bull Rays that inhabit this beautiful bay. With perfectly flat sand banks, zero surge or current, you couldn’t ask for a better location for the first introduction to SCUBA.
“With all the recent publicity about the shark culls in WA,” Marc explains, “I thought it was only appropriate that we made sharks – the close relatives of Bull Rays – the focus of our research project. The deal I made was that the kids had to work in 3 research groups to identify a number of facts that none of the parents were “AWARE” of about sharks. And just maybe, they would experience the same new-found appreciation our club members had gained for these threatened sea creatures. The kids could research and present however they wanted. I learned a thing or two about multi-media that day as they came up with fun and creative ways to use technology to present their stories and research…one group even set up a quiz show with the parents as the contestants!”
The parents of the CK-DC were now asking what age their kids could be certified, and about Bubblemaker birthday parties – and if kids AND parents could experience diving together. That night around the dinner table, the discussion was about dive destinations and holiday locations around the world where family diving is a key activity, and of course, as the kids drifted off to bed one at a time, the occasional, slightly exaggerated shark encounter story too!