The Beauty of Yap family dive adventure with Kids Sea Camp 2013

Mogethin: Welcome to Yap, The Federated States of Micronesia

Its 2013 and Kids Sea Camp is live at Manta Ray Bay in Yap.

Margo, Tom, Jen Peyton, along with Fraser & Sophie Purdon are leading Kids Sea Campers around the globe to Yap and Palau.  See more in our face book photo album.   Yap sure gives us memories to last a lifetime.

We have learned the legend of Stone Money, walked through the villages of Yap and met the beautiful people of this amazing little Island.  We have shared their home, their food, learned about their cultures and enjoyed their company.

Day 1. Arrive to Manta Ray Bay: www.mantaray.com.  Our rooms overlook the sea and breakfast lunch and dinner are provided on an ancient sailing vessel called the Mnuw.

Sunsets on the Crows nets are spectacular.  Taro Leaf Spa for relaxing after a tough day of diving and fresh frosty Yap beer served pool side during happy hour.   The kids have enjoyed diving, beaches, educational hikes, Kayak tours and Digital photo dives with their new SeaLife cameras.

Sophie and Lilly earned their Jr. Open Water rating and final dive with sharks and Manta.  How is that to start your diving career?

Mrs. Sarin and Mrs. MacDonald hit their 100 Dives here at Manta Ray Bay during Kids Sea Camp and were honored with Mantas saluting them overhead.

Morning coffee, off we go, 2 dives for adults and kids, a wonderful sunny day, lunch and afternoon dives as a family.  Thats not all, if you want more, we also enjoy dusk dives in the mangrove to spot the little Mandarine fishes.

Still not done?  Dinner is waiting with slide shows of the day’s find.  Night dives or snorkeling is always waiting for you.

Tom Peyton got us singing and started the first Kids Sea Camp Yap Basket ball club.  Tyler is coaching and dads are trying to find their game.   Laying by the pool the ladies sip on their coconut drinks, soaking up the sun and thinking about the next activity to do.

Diving has been hard to beat:

Macro and reef dives, Vertigo sharks, Goofnuw channel for manta, Napoleon rass, Munk head parot fish, leaf fish and more. Yellow wall  and Cabbage Patch, Miil Cannel’s  and Magic Kingdom, Gapow reef, and Lion fish wall just to name a few.   Surface intervals are spent playing among wild dolphins.  We watch them jump and spin along side our boats, and yes even jumped in to have a closer look at moms and babies too.

Pilot whales, white tips, black tips, grey reefs, Yap showed us sharks galore!  But best of all are those beautiful Manta Ray’s that will dance in our heads for the rest of our days.

7 days has flown bye and we are sad to go…  We will return to Yap again, but for now we look on to Palau…

Diving in my open water course

Throughout my open water course, everyone kept asking me, “Why did you decide to become a diver?”  Originally- that answer was pretty simple. See I work for Kids Sea Camp and when I first interviewed for this position, Margo asked me “Are you a diver”. “No”, I said, “I’ve never even snorkeled.” Then Margo quickly followed up with, “Well, do you want to learn how?” Always being the type to try new things, and to never shy away from a challege, I said sure and so started my career with Kids Sea Camp. That was back in September. My official training kind of got put on the back burner since I was right in the middle of planning my wedding. I married Andrew (my best friend and the best husband a girl could ask for) on March 27th, left for our honeymoon on March 28th and spent a week in St. Lucia. I went snorkeling while I was there, saw a ton of beautiful fish and had a blast. So, as soon as I got back from my honeymoon  Margo signed me up to take my Open Water course right here in Columbia, SC.

Friday was the first night. I was so nervous all day and kept wondering what the heck I had gotten myself into. Margo called me with words of encouragement and told me to leave my perfectionist ways at the door and to just understand that everyone in the class was new to this. When I told Tom I was nervous, he said that was a good thing. He said that on the other side of nervousness and fear was excitement. My mom said she was proud of me for trying new things and Andrew said, ‘Everything will be fine. You’re gonna do great.” I did my best to listen them. I left work on Friday and immediately when for my first class section at Columbia Scuba. Friday night we reviewed Chapter 1 in the PADI Open Water Manual. This chapter focused on buoyancy and how important this skill is to a diver since bouyancy helps you control where you are in the water. We talked about equalizing- reverse blocks- and learned about all of the equipment that is used in diving. Then, we put together and took apart our gear. I did it 3 times.  We also reviewed some of the signs used to communicate under water and focused on the number one, most important rule in diving. NEVER, EVER HOLD YOUR BREATH WHILE SCUBA DIVING!  We had a quiz that night and I aced my first quiz! I thought- wow- this isn’t so bad. What the heck was I so nervous about? I went home exhausted and prepped myself  for the next class and for the pool work the following day.

On Saturday, we started out in the classroom discussed the buddy system and we also went through the proper way to ascend and descend. My instructors gave us some really fun ways to remember each of these skills.

For the Buddy Check- just remember British Women Really Are Fun! Thanks Lucy!

B-BCD

W-Weights

R-Releases

A-Air

F– Final OK!

To descend just remember the word SORTED.

S– Signal your buddy

O– Orient yourslef

R– Regulator

T– Time

E– Equalize

D– Descend

To ascend – STARS

S– Signal

T– Time

A– Air

R– Reach

S– Swim & spin

Then, we went to the pool and started our pool work. After setting up our gear, we had to swim 10 laps which I thought would be difficult since the gym also got put on the back burner during all of the wedding planning, but I got through it just fine. Before we started our skills we used the buddy check system to make sure that our gear was properly assembled and that we were ready to go diving. After we gave the final okay we got started – mask clearing, regulator recovery, regulator clearing, making sure to equalize our ears and our masks. The pool work went by really fast and before I knew it- I was ready to go home. The most skill I was most worried about (regulator recovery) was super easy. No reason to worry at all.

Sunday morning started out in the pool and learned some more underwater skills- these a bit more challenging. We used our buddy’s alternate air source, learned the tired diver tow, how to breathe with a free flowing regulator, and one of the most difficult was the CESA exercise. CESA stands for Controlled Emergency Swimming Ascent. You would use this skill if you lose your air supply and your buddy is too far away to provide his or her alternate air source. You have to exhale all the way to the surface (remember:never ever hold your breath!) and still have enough air to inflate your BCD on the surface. At first you think that its impossible. I’ve never been able to exhale for that long, but its amazing how your body can do things that you never thought it could. I did this on the second try making sure that I saw bubbles coming out the whole time.

After a much needed shower (the pool was really gross) and a quick bite to eat I headed to the final class session. We reviewed chapters 4 & 5 and then took our final exam. I only missed one question. I was so excited and began thinking about my open water dives. Soon, I would be a diver and I would get to really experience the underwater world.

It actually took several weeks before I was able to complete my open water dives because of some ear issues. But, after going to the doctor and making sure everything was okay, I was ready. I met Lucy (my instructor) at the lake on Friday evening. We were actually afraid that the dives wouldn’t happen since it was storming right across the lake, but we waited for 20 minutes and the skies cleared! I geared up and got ready to begin my very first open water dive. I had actually be dreading the whole lake diving thing. But, to my surprise the lake was actually really nice. We even saw a huge catfish on the first dive. I was a bit shaky and so nervous at first since it had been almost 6 weeks since I first learned to breathe underwater, but after a few minutes I calmed down and really started enjoying the experience. My buddy Erin and I did a few skills on Friday night and we dove to 20 feet. I was so relieved after the second dive on Friday. I was looking forward to do it again on Saturday morning.

 Saturday morning we met at the lake again. Erin and I requested that we do as many skills as possible during the first dive so that we could swim around and look for fish on the second dive (which is why we love diving in the first place!) All of the skills went great. Erin even told me that I inspired her because I was so calm removing my mask and putting it back on again. It gave her confidence and she did a great job too. On the second dive we finished up the remaining skills and then we got the chance to swim around the rocks. We saw several brim and one even came all the way up to Lucy’s hand. We got out of the water and Lucy shook my hand. “Congrats” she said. “Welcome to the underwater world!”

It’s amazing. I had never really thought about diving until I started here. To be honest, I don’t know if I ever would have taken the “giant stride” into the world of diving if it hadn’t been for this job and for Kids Sea Camp. But, I am very grateful and very blessed to have had the opportunity to do this. I think that sometimes we all get caught up – in deadlines, dishes, laundry and the overall everyday chaos that we call life. And although there is something to be said about surviving all of that, I think that every now and then we all need to take a step back and really challenge ourselves. Try something new. Give 100% of yourself and really see what you are made of. That’s what I did. And even though I haven’t been diving since the lake, I know that I have something to look forward to. I know that I can do anything if I really set my mind to it. Heck, I got engaged, started a new job, planned a wedding, and learned to scuba dive all in 9 months! AND- if I can do it- so can you! Go out there and do the things that you always wanted to do. Don’t make excuses- just do it. Will it be scary? Yes. Will it be difficult? Maybe. Will it be worth it? Absolutely!