Will the kids be safe onboard the catamaran?
Yes! The Team O’Neill Catamaran is a Coast Guard Certified vessel, which means that we must meet stringent safety requirements for the vessel, skippers and crew. The U.S. Coast Guard inspects the Team O’Neill annually to ensure compliance with USCG regulations. Both of our skippers are licensed by the USCG and have been driving the Team O’Neill catamaran for more than 20 years apiece with perfect safety records.
OSO hires only experienced professionals for crew and instructors positions (not docents or volunteers). The instructors are all required to be CPR/First Aid certified by the American Red Cross and undergo background checks with the Department of Justice before being hired. The crew also participates in biannual man overboard drills and safety meetings as required by the USCG.
All students are fitted with USCG certified Type 1 lifejackets and receive instructions on boat safety before their trip. Dangerous or turbulent weather results in a modified program to keep the kids safe from the elements.
After serving 75,000 students OSO has a perfect safety record.
Can parents come on board with the students?
OSO requires at least one teacher and three adult chaperones to accompany each class. As many as 8 parent chaperones may accompany the class as long as we do not exceed our boat capacity of 40 passengers. No more than 8 parent chaperones are allowed, however, in order to allow for adequate seating for OSO students.
Should I worry about seasickness?
The Team O’Neill is a catamaran, which provides a much more stable ride than other single hulled boats. Most people don’t feel sick on the catamaran, but if you know that your child had a predisposition for motion sickness, we encourage you to take whatever precautions you feel appropriate. We recommend a good, solid breakfast, such as oatmeal. Avoid sugary or greasy foods before the trip. A cup of ginger tea before the trip can also help.
What if it rains?
OSO is a rain or shine program. We encourage our students to come prepared with rain gear on wet or cold days, but we have rain ponchos for all the kids in case of a surprise downpour. The program may be modified on stormy days for safety or comfort reasons, but we will always provide the kids with the best possible learning experience. Changes in the weather are part of the experience and give the kids a glimpse into the working conditions for a real marine biologist!
Why am I on the waiting list?
OSO is very popular since we provide our program for free. We have a limited number of spaces and our program fills up quickly once applications open in May each year. Also, each class that is accepted to the OSO program has to be matched with a sponsor or donor. Not all donations come in at the beginning of the school year, so sometimes applications must be put on the waiting list until we receive more donations. You will be notified if a spot becomes available. Teachers on the waiting list may be asked to join the program with very little notice if someone drops out.
I’m a parent. Can I apply for my son/daughter’s class? Can I apply for my individual child?
We respectfully ask that parents not fill out applications for their child’s class or fill out applications for individual students. OSO serves groups of 4-6th graders that include at least 20 and no more than 35 students. OSO does not allow individual students to participate or ‘piggy back’ with other groups. Most of our participants are from schools, but we also serve Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, summer camps, Jr. Lifeguards and community centers. We ask that only teachers and group leaders fill out applications for the OSO trip. That way OSO’s staff has direct contact information for the person in charge of organizing the trip and can disseminate the pre-trip information to the appropriate party.
I am a parent of a home schooled child. Can I apply for my child’s home school group?
Home school groups are eligible for OSO if they have a group of 20-35, 4-6th grade students. Please designate one primary coordinator to apply for the group who will be a point of contact for our staff. Groups of less than 20 students are not eligible.
Do you serve special needs students?
Yes! Generous donors, Tom and Judy Webster have created The Adam Webster Fund, which sponsors students with special needs to participate in the OSO program. The special needs OSO program is tailored to each class’ learning curve and is often an experiential trip with more hands on experiences and less talking. The Adam Webster Fund sponsors students with severe disabilities and requires a 1-1 ratio of chaperones and students. We have a lot of fun with our special needs students!