Learning to enjoy and appreciate the water

The whole camp together after a day of ocean and beach activities including an environmental session on beach ecosystems, a beach clean-up, and Beach Olympics.

Save The Bays continues partnership with international group SwimTayka and Waterkeepers Bahamas to offer free swimming, safety and environmental awareness skills to young people in Bimini.

Twenty young Biminites gained increased confidence in the water and new insight into its vital importance during the third annual Swim and Eco Camp hosted by Save The Bays, Waterkeeper(r) Bahamas and international group SwimTayka.

The five-day camp offered pool swim, ocean swim, science experiments, field assessments and presentations on the importance of water. Last year, the same partnership offered Biminites free swimming and lifeguard training in an effort to boost water safety skills on the island.

“Learning to swim with confidence is a vital part of being able to enjoy the beauty that this country has to offer its residents,” said Joseph Darville, chairman of STB. “Learning to appreciate the significance and fragility of our marine environment is a key part of being a Bahamian. In this year’s camp, we sought to marry water safety skills and and environmental stewardship in a way that would spark enthusiasm in the next generation of conseration warriors.”

International group SwimTayka sends qualified instructors into developing communities around the world to not only to teach both children and adults how to swim, a skill that could one day save their life, but also to educate them about caring for the open water and how to preserve it for future generations. They also teach skills that open the door to future jobs as lifeguards and swimming instructors. This year’s team consisted of project leader Nathalie Martin, UK board trustee Lorraine Mackie and volunteer Claire Cohenuram.

The event was hosted by Rashema Ingraham, the Coastal Waterkeeper for Bimini and executive director of Waterkeeper Bahamas, which is part of a global network of organisations that aim to make as much of the world’s water as possible fishable, drinkable and swimmable as possible.

Ingraham said: “It is our responsibility to monitor water quality levels and report these on a regular basis. We recognise however that the human element is central to all of our work and that in addition to clean water, we must advocate for a community that has the skills, awareness and opportunity to take advantage of it.

“For us, the marriage of water safety and environmental education is a natural one. Its not just about givng young people the skills to enjoy the water safely, but also the knowledge and sensitivity to the challenges facing our oceans so that they can help preserve these precious recources for the benefit of future generations. We are thrilled to partner with a group like SwimTayka, which shares these priorities.”

She gave special thanks to the board of the Bimini Sands resort, which provided the pool for training; Neal Watson Jr from Bimini Scuba Center who ferried the campers back and forth to the resort; Demetrius Wildgoose and James Pinder of the Louise McDonald High School for accommodating the classroom sessions; and Dominic Cox of Dolphin House, who photographed a special Beach Olympics event.

Ingraham said the receptivenss and enthusiasm of Biminites to the programme has led them to seek to conduct similar exercises in other communities around the Bahamas.