Ten teenagers enrolled in Venturing, a youth development program of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), took part in the USVI Open/Atlantic Blue Marlin Tournament’s (ABMT) Marine Vocational Program (MVP) and became certified scuba divers.
“I wanted to conquer my fear of the sea,” said Kia’T’Nique Thomas, about her reason for embarking on the underwater educational program.
Prior to receiving their certificates, students Dudley Penn and Tyriq Isles demonstrated to a crowd of family and friends the techniques that enabled the students to earn their certification. The young men outfitted themselves with masks, regulators, air tanks and weight belts, and did a buddy check before submerging and swimming underwater around the pool.
“The kids really showed a lot of interest, were responsible and demonstrated a high level of teamwork and responsibility throughout the instruction,” says Andre Webber, of St. Thomas Diving Club, who taught the 10-week course.
Nathan Clark, Virgin Islands’ Council of the Boy Scouts of America senior district executive, says, “This experience has given the students a life skill they can build on for the future and even turn into a profession.”
One student, Jerome Hodge, plans to do just that. “I’d like to get my instructor’s certification and ultimately become a dive instructor.”
The ABMT’s MVP program, the brainchild of St. Thomas’ sports fishermen, Jimmy Loveland, operates under the Virgin Islands Council of the BSA.
“I envision the components of the MVP program like spokes on a wheel,” says Loveland. “There’s diving, sailing and fishing, for example, that not only introduces kids to these life experiences, but also takes them through a curriculum that will lead to a vocation in their chosen marine field.”
For more information about the MVP Program, contact Jimmy Loveland (340) 775-9500 or Nathan Clark (340) 774-2752.