Aquarium campers dive inSnorkels on, fins in the air, five youth swim in the Lincoln Park Middle School pool on a Monday afternoon. The five are joined by diving and scuba instructor Elmer Engman as part of a five-day summer scuba diving camp with the Great Lakes Aquarium.
By: Sarah Alabsi, Duluth Budgeteer News
Snorkels on, fins in the air, five youth swim in the Lincoln Park Middle School pool on a Monday afternoon. The five are joined by diving and scuba instructor Elmer Engman as part of a five-day summer scuba diving camp with the Great Lakes Aquarium.
“[Scuba diving] is cool because you can see things that you can’t see when you have to hold your breath,” said 12-year-old Hunter Kovach on his first day at camp.
The camp, which took place Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is now in its second year, focused on different aspects of scuba diving. In the morning, campers learn more about the science of scuba diving, said education program coordinator Samantha Smingler. Activities include learning about air pressure, buoyancy, and saltwater vs. freshwater.
“I really like the experiments we did this morning,” said Lizzy Wynn, 11.
Afternoon activities include pool sessions with Engman, which give the campers time to learn how to use hand signals to communicate underwater, use the basic scuba equipment and to grow comfortable with the weight of the equipment.
“This camp is meant to give kids experience in scuba, not a scuba certification,” said Smingler, who helps teach the scuba lessons and holds a scuba certification herself.
Monday through Thursday of camp was spent learning and practicing scuba diving in the pool. On Friday, however, the campers were scheduled, as of the Budgeteer’s deadline, to make a trip to Pike Lake to do an open dive in the lake.
“[The campers] are always very intrigued about the bottom,” said Engman. “The lake isn’t as clear as the pool, but they still enjoy it.”
At the Pike Lake visit, Smingler and fellow camp coordinator Emily Wartman teach the campers about transportation of invasive species and how it can be prevented.
The scuba camp was one of three summer camps offered by the Great Lakes Aquarium this year.
“We try to make our camps around unique experiences at the aquarium,” said Smingler.
The last Great Lakes Aquarium summer camp is the animal care camp which will be offered August 19-23, and is full.