How Beau Gentry’s spearfishing hobby has enriched the lives of an impoverished community
Beau Gentry and a student who received a new pair of shoes
Aera geologist Beau Gentry has loved diving along the Pacific coast ever since he was a kid growing up in Dana Point, Calif.
Using just a mask, snorkel and fins – no scuba tanks – Gentry has explored the underwater world from Baja California to the Channel Islands to Mendocino.
But the highlight of Gentry’s diving experience so far is a recent trip to the Pacific coast of northern Panama.
Traveling with a group called Diving for a Cause, Gentry not only had his first-ever opportunity to go spearfishing for the prized yellowfin tuna but to help the children of an impoverished community outside of Limón. He joined 13 other divers from around the world who spent half their time diving and spearfishing and the rest in community service.
“The group helps make a difference in the lives of the children and families of the communities they visit by donating much of the fish that is harvested and by aiding in local improvement projects, such as planting trees, painting schools, repairing desks and building soccer fields,” Gentry said.
As he discovered on the eight-day trip, local children attend small schools that have very few supplies. The area has no paved roads. Some children actually live at the school during the week and often receive only rice for lunch.
But through Diving for a Cause, participants like Gentry can enrich the lives of those young children and their families. The humanitarian non-profit organization was created to help communities in need all over the world. Group members are united by their passion for spearfishing. The money they pay for the trip helps buy provisions for the locals.
“Our group brought and distributed 140 backpacks filled with bilingual books and school supplies, four soccer goals and 24 soccer balls, along with assorted clothing and shoes that participants brought from home,” Gentry said.
“Additionally, we stuffed the schools’ freezers with hundreds of pounds of yellowfin tuna that we harvested throughout the week,” he added. “We spent our days distributing backpacks, reading and coloring with the kids. We also applied temporary tattoos with the younger kids and organized soccer games for older students, both of which were huge successes. The children were delighted by our visits and gifts, and we had a blast interacting with them.”
Added Gentry: “The Panama trip was a nice reminder that it’s not all about the destination or the fish that you catch. All the experiences along the way were what really made the trip special, although successfully landing a 100-pound yellowfin tuna was certainly a highlight.”