PADI (Professional Association of Diver Instruction) is the most well-known and accepted certification in the world for divers, and these students are completing a PADI seal class.
Meeting twice a month on Mondays at Fun Time Scuba in Brazil, Shepherd has been taking Amanda Newman, Anna Rice, Christine Vansickle and Brett Carter through some very interesting challenges.
Carter, the youngest of the group at age 9, says the diving class is a great adventure.
"It's really fun, and I can't wait to get certified for open water," Carter said.
"This is a first step to getting certified," Shepherd said. "Once the kids pass the PADI seal course, they are eligible to take the Master seal class and get certified. This course gets them used to the water, equipment, rules and safety signals that they'll be using in the master class."
During the course, participants must complete several sections in a course book.
They learn about air in the body, how air pressure and water pressure work together, and most importantly, to follow the number one rule of diving.
"Don't hold your breath, ever," Shepherd said. "They really need to learn how to breathe under water. You don't get a second chance if you screw up that rule."
Cleaning out their mask, using a regulator, underwater hand signals and buddy breathing are also taught.
"They learn how important it is to dive with a buddy, and if there is a problem, how to do emergency breathing, what we call buddy breathing," Shepherd said.
Twelve-year-old Anna Rice likes the class because she likes to swim.
"It's so cool to breathe under water. It's like a whole different world, really quiet and smooth," Rice said.
Participants must have their own equipment, mask, fins and snorkel, and they are closely watched and graded on attendance, behavior and upkeep on their paperwork. They are also graded on parental involvement.
"It's very important that parents come and see what their child is learning, and even get into the pool and let the child teach them how to snorkel," Shepherd said.
The next level of classes, the Master Seal, will teach them how to learn to identify aquatic animals, search for pollution, learn to float like an astronaut in the water, use an underwater compass, night diving, find lost items in water, and to use an underwater camera.
"We just started offering these classes, and this was our first. We've been very pleased with how it turned out," Shepherd said.
New classes will be starting in September. For more information, contact Jim Frederick at 443-3483.