WHILE the main message of the Boatsmart – Taking Young Boaters Beyond the Basics program is safety, it is apparent that the emphasis is on fun.
Students from Footscray Secondary College completed Boatsmart recently and one sentiment that keeps cropping up when describing their experiences is how enjoyable the program was.
Outdoor Education teacher Juli Black said she was ecstatic when informed her application for funding for the program from Marine Safety Victoria was successful. He students took part in the Boatsmart program as part of a semester-long elective focusing on conservation and safe participation in the outdoors.
`` Funding made available by Marine Safety Victoria enabled students from my school to have these experiences when they may well have been excluded because of the costs involved,'' Ms Black said.
``I am convinced that this program has many benefits. Educating our young people about safe participation in aquatic activities will reduce risks and generally enhance their recreational experiences.''
Ms Black said the feedback from students (and a student teacher) about the program was overwhelmingly positive.
``We were all surprised at just how much we learnt over the 3 days of the course as well as how much fun we had,'' Ms Black said.
``Feedback from parents has also been very positive and I have had comments about how proud their child was when they received their Boat Licence. I hope we get the opportunity to take another group through the program. I would certainly recommend the Boatsmart Program to other schools. ''
Boatsmart – Taking Young Boaters Beyond the Basics aims to provide secondary school students with the knowledge and practical skills they need for safe recreational boating.
The program employs qualified Boating Victoria staff who combine essential theory with a practical on-water component. Topics include Trip Preparation, Safe operation, Emergency Procedures, Buoyage Systems and practical skills. The course consists of two days theory in a classroom and one full day of practical on-water skills.
At the end of the program, students who successfully complete the course are issued with a Marine Safety Victoria certificate, enabling them to receive a Victorian Boat Operators licence from Vicroads without further testing.
Year 9 student Ryan said: ``Our Footscray Survivor class participated in a marine safety course over three days to obtain our motorboat licenses. For the first two days we did theory at school then on the last day we went to Port Melbourne for a practical boating session.
``At the end of the second day we had a test to determine whether we understood everything we had learnt. If we passed we were able to go boating the next day.
``On the third day we went out for our practical boating session and learnt how to drive a boat including maneuvering, parking and obeying rules on the water. It was very enjoyable and I gained a lot from it''.
James, also in year 9, said: ``As part of our Footscray Survivour class students participated in a Marine Safety Course where we were able to obtain a boat license.
``For the first two days we did theory at school and learnt all about boats, safety, markings and more.
``Then finally on the last day we went out for a very enjoyable prac session in the boats. We all got to drive them gaining much experience and at the end our boat licenses, it was a very fun day. ''
For more information on Boatsmart – Taking Young Boaters Beyond the Basics, please contact Boating Victoria's education co-ordinator Ian Fox on 0413615874, or firstname.lastname@example.org
Ends: Jennifer Milligan
Yachting Victoria Media & PR
PH: 0448 884 993