For the second consecutive year Fish ‘n Fins has been the most popular activity of the Government Summer School program, ESCAPE: Education, Sports, Creative Arts, Production and Exhibitions. Over sixty, 7-14 year old children opted for the Ocean Club over various activities ranging from Football to costume building.
The program was made possible this year through the joint sponsorship of the Department of Youth Affairs & Sports, and Ministry of Agriculture, Lands, Housing and Environment, and AQUA Montserrat.”
Veta Wade, Director of Fish ‘n Fins explained that, “Fish ‘n Fins for ESCAPE was heavily focused on swim safety and swimming lessons this year. Capping our participant numbers at forty allowed us to focus more closely on each child and their swimming ability. We were particularly happy to see 22 girls attending summer camp this year; girls also represented 6 out of 10 of our strongest swimmers.”
At Fish 'n Fins children are assessed on day one of camp and put into one of 5 swim groups ranging from Crabs to Dolphins. Before a child is able to join the Dolphin group for regular snorkel training, he/she must be able to comfortably perform a number of techniques, such as a 30 second breathe hold, treading water for 3 minutes and a no fins swim of 150m. A child’s attitude/behavior also affects which swim group they are assigned too.
Veta added, “We stretched the swim targets for our little swimmers this year, to highlight the importance of safety at sea, especially as it relates to snorkeling. Some of the results we saw on swim tests were impressive, with 10 of our children being able to swim this distance." Fish ‘N Fins swim instructor and head of safety, Mr. Paul Morris added, "We (adults) sometimes underestimate young people and often restrict their ability to achieve and demonstrate their determination. The environment at Fish ‘n Fins changes this.”
Recent graduates of the Montserrat Secondary School also assisted at the ESCAPE program. They were Chase Buffonge, Sadain Brown and Claribel Figueroa. Also supporting on a junior level were outstanding Fish ‘n Finers from the regular Sunday Club, Ajani Brade, Jeana Golden, Joshua Golden, and Sydney Mendes. The involvement of these young people this year, further demonstrates AQUA Montserrat's focus on developing leadership and seaworthy skills amongst the local youth.
Other highlights of the three week program included special guest hosts, Stephen Mendes and Tiffany Williams of the Department of the Environment; who hosted a session on “Human Impacts on the Ocean and Environment. " Marine Biologist, Robin Ramdeen also hosted a mini session on corals.