Tucucmari Elementary fifth graders learn water safety and get tour of Conchas dam on field trip

By William Thompson:Quay County Sun

Tucumcari fifth graders learned about water safety and went deep inside Conchas Dam Friday on a field trip to Core of Engineers Day Use Area at Conchas Dam. Julie Stone, a Corps of Engineers park ranger, taught students the “Reach, Throw and Go” techniques of water safety.

Fifth grader Kyle Brockman learned that “Reach” means to extend something for the drowning person to hold onto and “Go” means go get help if someone is drowning.

“If you try to save the person you can end up drowning with them,” Brockman said. “You should grab a stick or something that the drowning person can hold onto.”

Students were shown a variety of flotation devices and ropes that can be thrown to someone drowning. Above all, students learned the importance of wearing life jackets.

“An average of six thousand people drown every year in the U.S.,” Stone told the students. “Seventy percent of those people would have survived if they had been wearing life jackets.”

Bethany Bishop said she was going to try her life jacket on when she got back home, to make sure it fit properly. She also said she adheres to another important water safety tip.

“I always swim with friends,” she said.

Bishop also toured Conchas Dam with her classmates. The students walked down inside the dam, about 150 feet below the surface of Conchas Lake.

Dominick Ortiz was a little anxious about being so far down below the surface.

“I was thinking what if the dam fell down on top of me,” Ortiz said. “It was a little wet and slippery down there, a little scary.”

Park ranger Steve Peterson guided the students through the dark tunnels of the dam.

“They have a good time,” Peterson said. “I get a lot of positive feedback from the kids. When I go into Tucumcari, kids say to me, ‘Hey Ranger Steve, I had a great time at the dam.’”

After the tour of the dam, students went to a grassy area for a spring picnic before they boarded buses back to Tucumcari.