16 BSAC members attended the BSAC Snorkelling Instructor Training Course and Assessment (SITCA) this past weekend including 3 members of Sub C Divers. Joining us were members from BSAC Direct, Chester Sub Aqua Club, Alsager Sub Aqua Club, Burnley & District, Barnsley BSAC Divers,Valkerie and even Peninsula Sub Aqua Club all the way from Cornwall!
With a 0900 am start sharp I knew I had to be picking up my colleague Adam at 7 am followed by my other colleague Neil at 7:15 am before heading from Greater Manchester to Chester. The boot was loaded with our pool kit and an air of anticipation. what were we to expect from the weekend course?
We arrived bright and early at Chester and found a close by Car Park, unloaded the boot and took the short walk to the Chester Sub Aqua club. Upon entering the venue, the first thing you notice is the nostalgic feel to the venue, this was a Victorian bath with the traditional turnstile entry that would have been originally foot operated, as you look down towards the pool area you could see the traditional Victorian type cubicles on both sides of the pool. The venue whilst old in her looks was spectacular.
We were pointed towards the meeting space which was clearly decorated in history for the Chester Sub Aqua club, they even had their very own bar area. We were welcomed with warm smiling faces by the BSAC team we placed our pool kit to the rear of the room and took our seats in the rows provided. It soon became apparent that we were simply not just going for a quick swim. Whilst this course was over two days I have to say it was pretty full on, and rightly so.
Day one we were introduced to our very own group instructor, Myself and Adam were joined by three other people from other parts of the county and my colleague Neil was in another group of people. Ron was our instructor and he was immediately brilliant by introducing himself and then asking our names, I would reply Lee and Ron would say “Nice to meet you, Dave”. Adam would introduce himself and Ron would reply “Nice to meet you, Dave”, Amy from Barnsley Sub Aqua Club stated her name and Ron replied “nice to meet you Dave” Same applied to Simon and Clive. All five members were called Dave and Ron was called Dave. This immediately broke the ice with the group and went on to be a long-running joke.
0900 through to 1300 was presentation time combined with numerous practical showcases to demonstrate the various different messages. Using the most simplistic tools Whilst it may not seem apparent at the time of the presentations /lessons, what was actually happening was BSAC instructors were implementing and installing a foundation on how we “The new instructors” can deliver the lessons. The format and delivery process are key to the success. I am not going to list all the acronyms and lessons we learned. But what I can say wholeheartedly is that this course was awesome, tasking but very enjoyable and as I said at the end of each day “IT WAS FUN”.
The time had arrived for me and my group to get in the pool. Time to slip into my wetsuit. Pool time was precious and it was very important that we wasted no time at all.
As divers, we all think we know everything about Mask, Fins and Snorkels when in reality all divers want to do is dive with cylinders. understandable. The lessons learned on the SITCA I believe will ultimately make me a better diver and I will be gaining the qualification and qualities to encourage the next generation of young divers via the snorkelling course natural progression.
The pool lessons were delivered to us step by STEP, which again only added value to the morning presentations, the jigsaw puzzle was beginning to fall into the place piece by piece.
What amazed me was the shear variety of people there, from snorkellers at 17 to experienced divers/snorkellers in their late 60s and it demonstrated that we all have something to learn. During the course we were shown the latest ideas on certain manoeuvres such as a stride entry, we were taught how people learn and the most valuable skill for an instructor we learnt how to break down a skill to help trainees. The course is as intensive as it is fun and I highly recommend it to anyone! A massive well done to everyone who went on the course and worked hard to match the standard we were set by the instructors. Also, a big thank you to all the instructors volunteering their time, they were fantastic, constantly showing us tips, tricks and advice and demonstrating how we can continue to improve.
By around 1500 we were out of the pool ready for a hot drink and further presentations to cement what we had learned through the course of the pool sessions.We then broke into our groups and started creating our very own lesson plans. Now the fun begins. Little did we know that we would be delivering our very own presentation and pool session and subject to what you picked from “Ron’s” hand determined if you were doing a presentation to the 8-year-old, or the grown adult and the same applied to the pool session.
I managed to draw the Adult presentation for The effects of diving “Ears” and I had the 8 years olds pool session “Introduction to Mask and Snorkel”. Sounds simple. I’m a diver so it should be pretty straightforward. Let me tell you that being on a course all day in Chester and getting home at 20:15 with two lessons to prepare. I was a little flustered.
Time for a Chinese takeaway and a bottle of red wine. I was texting my colleague Neil who was equally challenged by his homework and I recall it being closer to Midnight when I started to get something down on paper (Android Tablet) I believed it was the ¾ bottle of red wine that inspired me. now where I live in a peaceful cul-de-sac, we have a Facebook page a little like a neighbourhood watch. I sent a group message to my neighbours asking someone to loan me a party balloon which would help with my presentation on “Ears” and the reply I received was fantastic. Someone had a condom I could borrow (what you actually want it back??) I was tempted to use this if only for the quality entertainment but opted for a party balloon instead. I know what your thinking, why do I need a condom, or even a balloon and a Bicycle pump? My practical side of my presentation was explaining the effects of pressure on the ears and I wanted to demonstrate with a Balloon how this works. Finally gone Midnight I had my presentation all done and dusted, rehearsed and full of confidence. Or so I thought.
Sunday The big day had arrived. Today was Adams turn to drive which meant I got an extra 15 minutes in Bed. 7 am start and we were off to collect Neil. all three of us were on our way to Chester and I could not help but notice the sombre moment in the car, there was clear apprehension about the day ahead. Now let me tell you. My experience with Adam and Neil. they are both confident outspoken people whom should have no issues delivering these lessons. and I too am a very confident person. but yes, I had placed myself under pressure. no one wants to fail, everyone wants to present to the best of abilities.
We arrived at Chester. a bit too early. we grabbed a coffee at McDonald's and managed to bump into Ron. Ron made it very clear that we should calm down, BSAC appreciated that we had been tasked with homework with very limited time. do your best and demonstrate what you have learned.
It was time for my presentation to the adults, consisted of numerous slides, but more importantly covered the objectives Set out in the course.
For me, this weekend was about much more than just becoming an Instructor. It was all about giving back to the club and helping to take the weight off the people who give their time week in week out to train our snorkellers. It was about doing it right and ensuring that our students are given up to date, accurate training. What a weekend it was! I would highly recommend the SITCA to anyone wishing to gradually ease their way into instructing, paving the foundations of teaching in our beloved sport.
Now time for the pool session. I have to say. delivering a pool session to 8-year-olds is one thing but delivering a pool session to 8-year-olds boasting beards and body hair and deep voices was something I'll probably never experience ever again. Toning down the words, using simplistic phrases, fist bumping, applauding and giving multiple credit and encouragement is something I focused on. I believe I delivered the course objectives in the necessary format, but probably was rushing due to nerves. I saw everyone in our group do an amazing job considering the time frames. The BSAC instructors (Ron & Adrian) in our case were both Awesome.
The day ended with a Theory test and then a quick round robin to finalise the weekend course. As individuals we made friends, as a club SUB C Divers, we met new clubs and those relationships will grow and prosper.
If your club or you as an individual is considering the SITCA course, I for one wholeheartedly encourage you to do this course. It was simply brilliant. and as a club, we intend to PAVE the way for our young members. but be prepared to put the work in.