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From My Perspective as a Parent

Kids Sea Camp from a parent’s perspective

We got to Curacao early to spend a little time getting used to the place. My kids, although avid swimmers, had never really felt comfortable in the ocean. Sea Camp changed everything. The first day in Curacao, my kids wouldn’t go past where they couldn’t touch the bottom of the water. By day two, they were swimming the channel with local kids, back and forth. I was thrilled.

Jaws didn’t help my love of diving

I had spent my whole childhood enjoying the ocean and had always watched Jacques Cousteau and had even got to go to some of his lectures through Cal Tech in California, but after seeing Jaws, I was terrified of getting eaten. Years later, after a really wonderful impromptu snorkeling shark experience with about 50 wonderful leopard sharks, I finally became a SCUBA diver, Rescue diver and then a Divemaster. I finally realized many of my dreams of interaction, observation and the amazing feeling of being in what I think is heaven, that SCUBA Diving has to offer. Well, I thought my kids would never see it that way. They were always nervous because of the shark movies they’d seen, whether we were snorkeling or kayaking. Those days are over now.

Family loving diving

My son, who really had an aversion to studying, read his SCUBA certification book nightly with an enthusiasm I had never seen. He worked hard, and his instructor, Steve, worked with those kids in amazing ways. Every day, I saw a personal and intellectual growth in both kids, that I could never have imagined. The best part is, they were just having fun and had no idea what huge obstacles they were overcoming from what I knew of them in the past.

I have to say, that the most exciting day for me and my husband was the day we dove with them for the first time. I dove with Megan, as she wasn’t old enough for open water certification but got her confined water certification.

Kids Sea Camp our Aquarium

She actually showed me around the “In Ocean Aquarium” and knew what animals hung out where what their personalities and tendencies were and how to interact with them. She took me to all the different areas so that I could experience all her new friends: The friendly stingrays, the enormous Jew Fish, and the Blow Fish who just loved to hover right in front of your mask all the time. We laughed and giggled underwater at all their personalities as if it was the most natural thing in the world. She monitored me and my air as if she had to make sure I would be OK in her newly found playground. It was great!!!

My husband went with Micheal on his open water dive. My son had done it. He was certified. He could go out off of the rocks with his equipment, make good decisions about the current and depth, was really good at buoyancy, and was a natural at looking out for others. There he was in the open ocean, loving and appreciating it’s vast amazing beauty with respect and awe, just as I had always dreamed he would get to do. He’s always been like me, feeling close to animals and nature. I used to try and describe to the kids the amazing and beautiful experiences I’ve had as a diver, how it feels to lay on the sandy ocean floor and look up through the kelp with the sun shining through, how it feels to play copycat with the sea lions and the things to do and not to do so that you can enjoy being a guest in their world. Now when I and Micael talk about it, he gets that same look, that one only divers know and share.

Saving for Kids Sea Camp, instead of Christmas

This wasn’t something available when I was a child. We could only watch that occasional Jacques Cousteau special and dream of what it might be like. But now, both I and my children have a world of exploration, beauty, and heaven to explore together. It would be impossible to describe the feeling, as a parent, that I have, every time I think about the joy on their faces at their own accomplishment, and at the relationships, both human and animal that they developed through Kids Sea Camp. We’re going again, for two weeks, to do different programs. My kids, who love piles of presents under the tree, were ecstatic when I asked them if it was OK if we did a really small Christmas so that we could go to Kids Sea Camp instead.

The gift that keeps on giving

Nothing in the world has given them what Sea Camp gave them, and we are so fortunate that we have the opportunity in today’s world to give our kids this gift that will start them on a path that will last a lifetime. I am so grateful to Margo for having this dream for her and her kids and making this program a reality for those of us who see the great value in it but never really thought it was a possibility. Not only is it a fun thing to do, but it makes a huge change in the children and the parents who have done this. Our lives will never be the same and we have been truly blessed by the experience.

Gloria Fontenot (parent Micheal and Megan Marshall) 2003 KSC Curacao
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