By Chris Hannaford
and Rob Hoff
Regretfully, Enid Lake has experienced several drownings over the years, and tragically some of these drownings have involved children.
Recognizing that our children are our greatest resource, Supervisory Park Ranger Mike Robinson has developed a boat and water safety course for area fifth and sixth graders.
This course incorporates the Basic Boating Course sponsored by the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, with hands-on activities that he developed, which allows students to practice techniques they are taught in the classroom. This course has been so successful that Robinson has received both national and international recognition for his efforts.
Over the past several months park rangers from Enid Lake have taught this course to fifth and sixth grade students. The students are taught the rules of the road for boating which are the rules, regulations, and laws required for operating a boat in Mississippi. If students pass the written test at the end of the course they receive their Mississippi Boating Certificate which is required for all persons born after June 30, 1980, who plan to operate a boat in Mississippi.
During the course students are given the opportunity to practice hands-on skills associated with boat operation, and water safety techniques, and each class competes against the other classes for bragging rights. Students are scored on events that include a Throw Bag Rescue, Buoy/PFD Relay, Rules of the Road Boat Competition, Reaction to a Swimmer in Distress, Identification of the Parts of Mock Boats, and then averaging of each class’s test scores.
These competitions not only serve as a teaching tool they also inspire the students to perform their very best. This year, Park Rangers taught over 600 students from area schools including: South Panola, Pope Elementary, R. H. Bearden Elementary, Coffeeville Elemen-tary, North Delta School, Davidson Elementary, and Jonestown Elementary.
Each student that participated in this program is considered a winner by the Enid Lake Staff of the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers.