First 4-H scuba project a success |

First 4-H scuba project a success

by members of the 4-H Scuba project

Special to The R-C

In the fall of 2009, a Douglas County 4-H parent (who is a professional scuba diver), approached Strictly Scuba in Carson City, with an idea of offering scuba diving to 4-H youth members. The staff at Strictly Scuba then got the go ahead from the Professional Association of Dive Instructors and from Douglas County 4-H and enrollments began. Youth ages 10 and up were quickly introduced to another world beneath the water’s surface. The 4-H kids met once a month, beginning in February for classroom work; learning the technical and academic part of diving, and then met for pool sessions with their new community partners at the Carson Valley Swim Center in Minden. There they were able to learn, practice and hone their skills in preparation for their open water dives at Lake Tahoe.

When the professional dive community associated with Strictly Scuba (most of which are members of the High Desert Divers Club) learned about the project, the support was overwhelming. Instructors, Dive Masters and Dive Masters in Training quickly answered the call to help out with the kids. The volunteers took time out of their daily lives to support the staff and the 4-H scuba kids in the classroom and pool sessions, and to share their love for the water and their passion to dive. The success of the project would not have been possible without these key people. Best of all, Strictly Scuba sponsored this project free of charge; the kids had to purchase only their books and personal gear, which included mask, snorkel, boots and fins.

This 4-H scuba project was well underway when leaders learned that it might possibly be the first 4-H project of its kind in the United States. The project included teaching scuba fundamentals, such as mask clearing, emergency assents, diet and hydration factors, physical fitness, buoyancy control, compass usage, dive logs, and above all diver safety.

This past weekend, the remaining 9 out of 17 youth 4-H members, completed their course at Sand Harbor, Lake Tahoe. The weekend consisted of two dives on Saturday and two more dives on Sunday. The kids had a few challenges, including wind, waves, and the cold, however, none of them gave up. They rose to the occasion and did what they had set out to do months ago, become certified junior open water divers. In fact, most of them have plans to return this fall to begin their junior advanced open water Course. They will continue their skills and education underwater. One of them is even making plans to become a Coast Guard rescue swimmer.

The 4-H members completing their junior open water certification for 2009-10 are Jarrod Becker, Kaleb Beervanmeter, Andrew Carlisle, John Chambers, Matt Davis, Cody Frontino, Danner Hillman, James Hollis, Aspen Kidd, Skye Kidd, Tyler Murphy, Gabby Reed, Steve Rooney, Breanna Ross-Dee, Cody Woodegeard, and Dahmien Woolard.

The 4-H scuba project sets a great example of how 4-H brings community together around the 4-H mission “To Make the Best, Better.” The 4-H youth program is a community of young people across America who are learning leadership, citizenship and life skills. A 4-H project can be on nearly any topic. An adult in the community who has a skill or interest that they would like to share with youth can become a 4-H leader and do just that. In the case of the 4-H scuba project, one person’s idea, with the help of many others made a dream into a reality.

To learn more about 4-H in Douglas County, and the more than 20 project areas available this year, call 782-9960. The 4-H program is open to ages 5-19 and is a youth development program of the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. There are no fees to join. There may be fees associated with your individual projects.

Sign-ups are 6:30 p.m. Sept. 13 at Carson Valley United Methodist Church, 1375 Centerville Lane, Gardnerville.