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Young’s camp teaches life skills


Lisa King

Young’s camp teaches life skills

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Helping children to gain an appreciation for the sea as well as themselves is what Michael Young does through his Camp Aquarius.
Young is the owner and director of the Aquarius Water Sports on Browne’s Beach, a water-based activity club aimed mainly at children of all abilities.
 “What I do is take individuals and allow them to understand how to be responsible, reasonable and rational,”?he said.
His programme is about giving individual participants the opportunity to make their own decisions and explore and learn for themselves what they can and cannot do.
“It is to allow them to carry on and get better at what they are doing to the point where in which ever small way they know their limitations. It allows them to become assertive enough in whatever forum they are. As they become assertive they say  ‘We can, we can’, and they carry on,” said Young, who started Camp Aquarius in 2001.  
There is no hand-holding or telling his charges what to do.
“That is where you want them. When it is time to hold their hands, they are held. When it is time to let them move along and find out for themselves, that happens,” he added.
Young runs a six-week summer programme and has learn-to-swim classes with children from as young as 18 months old.
Every Wednesday special needs children from The Learning Centre are given developmental sessions.
“When they came they did not know how to swim, but they all learn to swim, they start to follow instructions and fully participate in the activities,” Young said.
“At age 17 to 19 they are looking to come out of school, so it is a matter of looking at life skills so that is what we practise here with them is to give them responsibilities. Some small depending on what they understand,” he said.
For Young the experience of working with the children for the past seven years has been an emotional, but satisfying, one.
“It has been thrilling. As I walk around and the individuals a lot of them would have started throwing tantrums, then to be able to see them change and start to follow instructions.
“As they progress it has been very fulfilling. I smile a lot of times as we work together and to see them as they participate in so many ways,” he said.
In each of the programmes Camp Aquarius offers, the children are taught the same things; swimming and other sea activities such as snorkelling, kayaking, diving and sailing.
Young said it made sense to start with young individuals to build their confidence and allow them to get better. He said ultimately it was to help them to understand their limitations and use their discretion, be responsible, be in charge, and take the blame where necessary.
“This is not looking for the person to be competitive swimmers, it is to get them to be able to be confident and competent in the water.”
He said he had the privilege of finding out about the marine environment, the connection between the terrestrial side and the ocean and “realizing that if we were not putting together activities trying to sustain it, it will create problems in the future”.
In addition to the water activities the children also do beach walks and other activities that teach them the connection between land and sea.
“By taking them on hikes in the country, allowing them to see what happens in the countryside though it is miles away from the beach there is a connection,” Young said.  
“We explore the concept that when you build a house and put a well in it, where does that water go, when you put a road, where does the water run off? When you change something on the land it affects the other side; the sea.”

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