In my day, my idea of a cool school trip was a week camping in Wales. Nowadays, it appears that kids have it much better, not to say that I didn’t love my welsh experience hugely – rain and cow pats included!
Todays work is starting an open water course with a large group of secondary school children. These lucky things are spending a week here learning to dive. I feel sorry for the teachers who are in charge of them as I quickly realise how much chaos a group of 26 children appear to cause. ‘Wheres my swim suit?’, ‘Wheres my towel?’ ‘I forgot my manual’ and so it continues. I am one of 6 instructors tasked with teaching these kids and turning them into competent divers by the end of this week, although I’m starting to wonder if I should have developed a dodgy ear overnight! We realise a much better strategy is to put them into groups of 4 now, as it should make managing them a little easier than the current ‘herding cats’ situation we have.
My group is made up of males, so I let out a sigh of relief as I realise I have instantly shielded myself from issues that regularly occur with teenage girls, including mascara in eye injuries, broken nails and salty unbrushed hair crisis situations.
So, paperwork done we start with equipment set up. This is normally a good indication of what is to come. Copying me when setting up the kit will quickly highlight any issues with co-ordination or a tendency to get left and right mixed up (happens to me quite often, I blame being a left hander). It appears that one lad is too busy staring at his female companion and not enough time listening, as some confusion occurs with the weightbelt set-up.
Once the ‘hard’ work is completed, we are able to head to the water to start the first confined session, and this really is where the fun begins. Men are typically less flexible than girls, so the task of putting fins on takes a while! I start to get a bit chilly after 10 minutes, with one student appearing to have a serious lack of co-ordination… and surprise surprise, it’s the one who was distracted earlier. (Mental note to self – watch this one!).An ‘occasional fish’
Now the other joy of a group of 4 kids together is underwater it is near on impossible to get them all looking in the same direction and doing what they should be. I can’t really complain, because the main reason is sheer excitement and amazement at the experience, and who am I to take that away from them. I usually allow a few (if not considerably more) minutes just for the squeals to die down, this normally lets the cloud of sand they have kicked up settle too!
As we glide through the skills, kids are by far the easiest to teach, the occasional fish swims past, getting them prepared for what’s to come. After a quick swim around in the shallows, which does resemble corks popping at some points, its back to dry land to debrief and prepare for tomorrow.
At this point, I would like to apologise to any school careers advisors they may come across in the future…..After day 1, every one of them has decided they want to be a diving instructor when they get older!