FOUR CORNERS – With school about to head back into session, a special course is going to be offered this Saturday to kids who want to learn about how to stay safe when they’re out on a boat, just in case the kids and their parents want to do some boating in the final days of summer recess.
“It’s certainly a good thing in Florida to have kids trained in boating safety,” said Rob Dent. “It’s not an extensive course, but it covers some key points.”
At the same time, the course – known as “Boating Fun – Safety on the Water” – could help serve a dual purpose: to introduce the children and their parents to a remarkable amount of history covering the U.S. Military.
The hour-long program is being sponsored by the Museum of Military History at 5210 U.S. 192 in Four Corners, on Saturday, Aug. 4 at 10 a.m.
The museum, which opened earlier this year and has an extensive and growing collection of items donated by area residents related to America’s past military conflicts — from the Civil War right up to current wars in the Middle East — is looking to expand its mission, said Dent, the museum’s marketing director.
“I would hope that we will continue with a variety of youth programs, everything from model building to history classes, bringing in historians dressed up in period costumes to talk to the kids about military history and how it affects our life today,” Dent said. “So youth programs are certainly one of our missions, and this fits in well with that.”
On Saturday, which also happens to mark the 222nd birthday of the U.S. Coast Guard, the museum is inviting kids ages three to nine to attend the free boating safety class. Children will learn what they should know before boarding a boat, including how to swim, how to swim safely with a buddy, swimming under adult supervision, what equipment is needed if a boat capsizes, and the need to always wear a personal floatation device like a life jacket.
Dent said the program was suggested by Jim Nickles, a local member of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary.
“I was visiting one of the local hotels, and their sales director, Jim Nickles, is in the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary,” Dent said. “He does this boating course for kids, and he asked if we’d ever be interested, and we said ‘Great.’ “
Nickles will be the instructor of the course, and each child will receive a certificate of completion at the end of the class.
Best of all, Dent said, it also helps introduce the kids and their parents to this new museum.
“It gets one parent in to see the museum and gets the kids more associated with branches of the military or their auxiliaries,” Dent said. “For the kids, if they learn nothing more than putting on the proper size personal floatation device, that’s a good thing. We definitely hope it will be something that people will want to get involved in, and there’s no cost to attend. It’s only an hour long, and then we give them free admission to the museum.”
The Museum of Military History, Inc. is a nonprofit organization designed to educate, increase awareness, build knowledge and understanding of the American military experience through interactive, interpretive exhibits designed for visitors of all ages.
Originally housed in a much smaller office at the Osceola Square Mall, the museum’s collection of military memorabilia grew so rapidly that the organizers quickly ran out of space. The board of directors had to look for a larger building, and found it in their current location on U.S. 192, a tourist-friendly highway.
The museum now has a huge collection of historic artifacts from American’s past wars.
The boat safety course clearly fits in with their overall mission, Dent said.
“One of the key things is we are an educational institution, and we need to get people in the door,” Dent said. “Once they see it and they can relate to what they see here, whether from their own family experience or through personal experience, it resonates with them.”
To learn more, call the museum at 407-507-3894.

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