|We want your visit to SEAFRIENDS and the Marine Reserve
to be inspiring and unforgettable. It is a day packed full of information
and experiences, snorkelling rating highest. We always seem to run short
of time but with a little help from parents and teachers, the day can be
made to flow smoothly. This pamphlet attempts to familiarise you with what
is going to happen and the many ways you can contribute to the day's success.
Measuring for wetsuits.
A wetsuit works only when it fits precisely, leaving very little room for water to flow in and out. All that water needs to be warmed up by the body for the suit to start working. Thus a suit is a very personal thing and we need body measurements to fit the suits precisely. You will have received a wetsuit fitting form on which 4 measurements appear. The height and hips (Not waist!!) are the most important ones. Measure height against a wall. Do it accurately with a proper tape measure and in cm please! Make sure that the wetsuit fitting form arrives at least one day in advance because allocating the suits is rather time-consuming. Sometimes when two schools require wetsuits on the same day, we require the forms earlier still.
Rotating the groups
|Each group first receives instruction on how to use mask,
snorkel and fins and how to get in and out of wetsuits. They are also taught
the house rules. Taking a group out snorkelling is like going for a hike
in the bush: we stay together; help each other, and do as told.
Then the class takes off warm clothes and while in their swimsuits, queue up to receive the wetsuits. Much time can be saved if children arrive with their swimsuits already on, under their warm clothes. Parents' and teachers' help is needed because children are not very quick when it comes to dressing and undressing. Parents and teachers also need to put on their wetsuits but they can do so at the end.
Children are encouraged to find the masks and fins themselves. Those who are short-sighted or long-sighted, get masks with optically corrected lenses. Then everyone gets a coloured cap: yellow for all pupils, blue for the parents and pink for the instructors. These caps allow us to see where everyone is in the water and whether a parent is near every group of children. In the water each instructor pulls a float, following the 'leading' float that follows the best course for the day. Pupils are allowed to roam freely within a swimming pool distance (20m) around each float. In this manner they are able to cover a large area exploring the underwater world, and being active keeps them warm. Parents and teachers are encouraged to spread themselves around and please stay within the 20m rule!
For many children the snorkelling is a first experience. Usually 70% swim away with the lead group. A remaining 20% has to be helped and perhaps 10% don't want to leave the shore. Although we want to encourage the children and offer them help, we don't want to force them. It is also important that they learn to help themselves and sort out their own problems with masks and fins. We encourage all parents to take part and not to 'opt out' by staying behind. That would set a bad example. We also discourage 'hand-holding'. Remember that everybody floats like a cork and can not possibly drown. If children get cold, a group is formed that is escorted back by an instructor or parent. In no circumstance are children swimming back on their own!
Before returning to the shore, the next group is already being briefed, ready to get into their wetsuits as soon as these become available. Children and parents try to keep all dive gear clean. Masks are dipped into a disinfecting chlorine solution. Many children need help in getting out of their wetsuits. They then change to dry clothes in the changing sheds.