By Mike Fitzgerald
Introduction to Dive into Space and Dive into Space Programs
Dive into Space Summer Camp blasted off during the week of July 24-28, 2023. California Scuba Center (NAUI# AF1135) and Program Director/NAUI Instructor Trainer Mike Fitzgerald (NAUI# 59412L) offered two camps involving 100 youth and 20 staff members simultaneously. The camp is based on the NASA Neutral Buoyancy lab. The camps were divided into Introduction to Dive into Space (ages 8-12) and Dive into Space (ages 12-18). Both camps offered the following classes: Team building/communication, classroom scuba instruction, a challenge room, and pool scuba instruction. The camp ran from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. The camps were held at two Fresno Unified School District high schools, Hoover High School (Intro to Dive Into Space) and McLane High School (Dive into Space).
Fresno Unified School District is California’s third-largest school district. FSUD’s student population is diverse in its 16 high schools, 72 middle schools, and 71 elementary schools. The district’s minority enrollment is 90%, with 64.5% economically disadvantaged students.
On the first day of camp, the students are placed in teams. The students came from all over the district and did not know each other. Part of the team building/communication lessons was to get the students to work together and communicate with one another. By the final day of camp, the teams were expected to complete underwater challenges as a team. The Intro students use wrist slates to communicate underwater, and the Dive into Space students utilize OTS Guardian masks and Buddy Phones to communicate with each other and their surface support team.
The Introduction to Dive into Space camp taught team building/communication skills. They went through scuba diving classroom sessions, practiced their skill challenges, and completed the NAUI Introduction to Scuba course over a five-day period. Once this camp was completed, the students, ages ten and up, were offered the opportunity to become NAUI Jr Divers at a discounted price through California Scuba Center. The Intro to Dive into Space trained 49 youth with the help of NAUI Instructor Robert Watson (NAUI# 63715) and Divemaster, NAUI Instructor Candidate Brock Navarro. NAUI-certified divers Sherrie Fitzgerald, Summer St. Clair and Kindall Grisham provided classroom instruction and administrative support.
The Dive into Space camp also taught team building/communication skills, scuba diving classroom sessions, practice for their skill challenges, and the confined water instruction for the NAUI Open Water course over a 5-day period. Once the camp was completed, the students ages 15 and up were offered the opportunity to become NAUI Open Water Divers at a discounted price. During this year’s camp, there were 51 students. NAUI Course Director Bryant “Bear” Johnston (NAUI# 57647) and NAUI Instructor Kala Mullaney (NAUI# 63282) provided the in-water instruction. NAUI-certified diver Lyle McDowell helped with classroom instruction.
All camp students were given a student uniform, Oceanic mask, fins, and snorkel to keep. Of the 100 students who attended the camp, 24 have shown interest in completing their certifications.
The camp could not have been possible without the support of the Fresno Unified School District, staff members of Hoover and McLane High Schools, Huish Outdoors (Oceanic), Ocean Technologies Systems, Artworkz of Clovis, California (uniforms), and Future Divers of America (Youth Non-profit).
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