Ocean Experience Cruise for Children [2008/06/04]
Lunchtime on the deck of the Fuji Maru
The children on this cruise may have been nervous at first, but by the end, they had a hard time saying goodbye to their new friends. The Blue Sea and Green Land Foundation hosts the B&G Cruise for Ocean Experience, with the aim of helping the next generation develop healthy minds and bodies through marine activities. I took part in the 30th annual cruise the Fuji Maru, a 23 thousand ton passenger ship that sailed between Tokyo, and Ogasawara from March 26th to 31st.
This year’s cruise consisted of two parts: the cruise itself, and activities in Ogasawara. On board, the 497 children lived together in extremely limited confines. Four children from different grades were assigned to each room, so junior high school students could take care of elementary school students in the same room. Since the students didn’t know each other beforehand, it took some time for them to develop a sense of camaraderie. Many children were not accustomed to group living and felt nervous aboard a rolling ship.(Photo: Girls enjoying canoeing)
Nonetheless, the children were highly enthused about the activities at Ogasawara. During the tour of the pilothouse, everyone listened attentively, though some were suffering from seasickness. They saw albatrosses from Torishima Island on the outward voyage, and were impressed on the homeward voyage by Sofu Iwa, a large pillar of rock protruding 100 meters out of the sea. Mai Nakamura, a former Olympic swimmer, and Michihiko Ueki, a former motorboat racer, participated in the cruise as special lecturers and talked about their experiences, encouraging children to have big dreams and objectives for their future.
Whales in Ogasawara Snorkeling with underwater creatures
The ship anchored at Ogasawara, where we stayed for two days. Children boarded fishing ships to take part in the whale-watching tour, and shouted with joy when they saw humpback whales swim gracefully by. At Kominato Beach, they struggled to paddle two-man canoes, went snorkeling, and learned lifesaving. Their shining eyes showed the joy with which they took part in these new experiences.
In a letter sent to the B&G Foundation, an elementary school student wrote, “When I went to the sea, I used to pick up shells and play on the beach. Even then, I felt that the sea was vast, but this experience made me realize that it was even bigger. On this cruise, I learned that the sea was fresh and beautiful and supported a lot of life. I think we should work to protect it.” A mother stated, “My daughter was deeply impressed by the experiences that she could not have at school or in her daily life and came home with new knowledge.” Another parent was pleased with the growth of his child, saying, “My child found how wonderful it was to meet other people.”(Photo: Exercises on the ship)