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Home-schooled children meet state physical education requirements at the Oasis Aquatic Center while having fun climbing a 30-foot-high wall. Guiding the children through the exercise are belay-certified parents, Beth Gray (pink shirt) and CeCe Fisher (white t-shirt). Climbers are: (top left) 8-year-old Damian Fisher; Erin Gray, 10; and Will Fisher, 6. (Air Force photo by Diane Betzler)
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Oasis Aquatic Center is open for exercise and winter sports

Posted 12/8/2010   Updated 12/8/2010 Email story   Print story


by Diane Betzler
Staff Writer

12/8/2010 - EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- The days of summer are over and so are many summertime recreational programs. However, those at Edwards who are thinking about becoming a couch potato for the winter can slice and dice that thought and check out the Oasis Aquatic Center.

This winter, the center is offering a wide range of exercise and sports programs - something for everyone.

"We have plenty of programs to keep people active throughout the winter months," said Fernando Brown, Outdoor Recreation assistant director.

Classes that teach belaying and other rock-climbing techniques are fast becoming a favorite among families with young children.

"The parents take the class, become certified and then bring their children here to climb the 30-foot-high rock wall," said Mr. Brown.

He said several parents who home-school their children become belay certified so they can combine exercise with fun by coaching them through their rock-climbing experience.
Belaying is a technique of using friction and other methods to secure ropes so that a climber who slips only falls a very short distance - a few inches to a few feet - and can easily recover.

"The kids love it. For them it's fun, not exercise, and it fulfills their (state) physical education requirements," said Beth Gray, a Rosamond resident who home-schools her two children.

Mrs. Gray said she and four other home-school moms took the belay training class and received their certification so that they can offer other home-schooled children the opportunity to take rock climbing as a PE requirement.

"We now have 49 kids from home schools that we take rock climbing at the Edwards Oasis Aquatic Center," she said.

She said the children range in ages 5 to 16. "We have a new five-point harness that goes between the younger ones' legs and around their shoulders, which allows small children to harness up and climb the wall."

Chilly winter temperatures can make anyone forget all about swimming, but the Aquatic Center's indoor swimming pool offers summer-like conditions and a variety of water-related classes all winter long.

"We're offering lifeguard training, water aerobics, swim lessons -- and a scuba program is in the works," Mr. Brown said. Anyone who is authorized to be on base can use the center.

Swim lessons start at $20 per course to $40 depending on the child's age and level of skill. Summertime courses last two weeks, but winter courses are spread out longer and meet twice a week. Children can start swim lessons as young as 6-months old.
The winter session for swim lessons starts this month, anyone interested in getting their child enrolled should call 275-SWIM.

The holiday season is here and with it comes the gigantic calorie-filled meals that can be too wonderful to resist. In an effort to help work off unwanted inches those meals could add, the aquatic center is offering a winter water-aerobics class.

"That class is scheduled to meet twice a week and runs $18 a month, or people can use a pay-as-you-go plan that runs $3 per class," Mr. Brown said.

This class is open to everyone on base.

"The Oasis Aquatic Center facility is also available to rent for parties," he said. Rental of the facility starts at $25 an hour and comes complete with certified lifeguards. The number of people in the party will determine how many lifeguards will have to be on duty and will affect the cost.

Kayak roll classes are offered once a month and run $15 per class. "It usually takes a person at least four classes to get the roll technique down," Mr. Brown said.

The class touches on basic skills such as paddling, steering and underwater exits, but the focus is on teaching students how to roll. Rolling is the act of righting oneself when the kayak has turned over in the water.

Mr. Brown said if enough people enroll in this class and stay with it, the outdoor recreation team could potentially organize an end-of-course kayak field trip.

Interested in becoming a certified lifeguard? There's a course offered at the center for that too.

It's a week-long course that's scheduled to start Dec. 27 and run through Dec. 31.

The course is $110 and is limited to 10 students. The course is Red Cross certified.

There is a mandatory, no-charge pretest that applicants must first take to determine if they physically qualify for the course. There are certain physical skill requirements a person must meet to qualify, Mr. Brown said.

The Aquatic Center operates three swimming pools during summer, which opens up several lifeguard positions.
"Currently we have four lifeguards on duty, but come summer we will increase our lifeguard staff to approximately 25," Mr. Brown said, adding that he encourages young people, 16 or older, who are interested in fun, but highly responsible summer jobs, to take the lifeguard course. There will be another lifeguard course offered during the spring break, he said.

For scuba enthusiasts, the aquatic center is working on establishing a scuba program.
"We are currently seeking qualified scuba instructors to discuss contracting for this program," Mr. Brown said.

Once the program is in place, the center will furnish students with wet suits, air tanks, regulators and vests. "Students will be required to purchase their own snorkels, fins and goggles," Mr. Brown said.

So this winter the Oasis Aquatic Center is staffed and ready to help Team Edwards stick to an exercise program throughout the colder months.

All the programs the center offers are open to all who have base access. For more information about the winter program schedules and fees, contact Outdoor Recreation at 275-2267.

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