Kids Sea Camp travel tips

It’s important to pack appropriately when traveling with kids on long hauls.

Airport Tips

  • We all know that airports can be a hassle these days but a little planning and preparation can make a big difference. Try these tips to help you breeze right through.

Before Your Trip

  • Check your itineraries for seat assignments and make any ticket changes you need.
  • Handle any special needs you might have before you get to the airport.
  • Check to make sure the contact information we have for you is right.
  • Take care of passports, visas, and any important papers you might need way ahead of time.
  • Review our Check-in Options to see which is best for you
  • Use our online Check-in tool and self-service kiosk to avoid long lines at the airport.
  • Know the check-in requirements for your airport.
  • Know the requirements for the security checkpoints where you’ll be traveling.
  • Check security checkpoint wait-times and allow plenty of extra time for busy holiday periods.

During Your Trip

  • Check the display screens and monitors in the airport to find your gate.
  • Arrive at the gate early with your boarding pass and eTicket receipt.
  • Keep an eye on the gate display screens that we have in most airports.
  • Listen closely for announcements at the gate. It might be important stuff.

Make sure to pack a small carry-on with just a few of the following basics for you and the kids:

  • Playing cards, books, puzzles
  • Drawing paper and markers
  • Small pillow
  • Some comfortable socks
  • Tooth brush
  • Favorite food and snacks for hotel room (remember the island does not always have the food kids like.pack some things like peanut butter, mac and cheese, cookies, etc).
  • Bottled water

Adults:

  • Contact solution (if needed)
  • Sunglasses
  • Eyeglasses
  • Sweat shirt for flight
  • Any medicines needed
  • Hair brush
  • Comfortable clothes
  • Favorite book
  • Hand lotion
  • Chapstick
  • Pack your personal valuables with you
  • Single parents traveling with kids outside the country need a notarized letter of “Consent to Travel” prepared prior to departure

Travel Documents Needed:

  • Passports required-Copies of Passports (have one set with you and leave another at home.)
  • C-Card for divers
  • Log book
  • Air line tickets
  • Itinerary
  • Travel documents
  • Paperwork and Forms
  • Waiver form: If your child has any breathing problems or other medical issues, you need to clearly state this so that we may be prepared to accommodate any special needs. We have in the past been able to create pleasant experiences for special needs children, kids with Asthma, hearing impaired children, some autistic children and we will do our best to make sure any child can experience Kids Sea Camp. We need this information ahead of time to ensure the safety of your child. You will need a doctors’ note letting us know your child can participate in the program you chose.
  • Be prepared in case a bag is lost or delayed. Don’t get caught without the things you know you need.

Other Carry-on Suggestions:

  • 1 bathing suit
  • 1 set of shorts and t-shirt
  • 1 set of undergarments
  • Sun Block
  • Dive regulator/computer
  • Camera
  • Any item you will absolutely need
  • Prescription medications

Other Suggestions for Packing for Trip:

  • Plenty of sunblock
  • Level 30-45 water proof sunblock for kids
  • Insect Repellent
  • Extra-Batteries
  • Film, Disposal cameras (underwater).
  • Converter for electronics. Voltage is generally 210-240
  • After-sun products, Aloe Vera, etc
  • Small medical kit
  • Ear drops
  • Motrin
  • Cough and cold syrup
  • Sudafed
  • Airborne
  • Sunglasses
  • Extra set of contacts
  • Benydril
  • Dive gear
  • Defog
  • Ipod
  • Socks for use inside of fins – dive skins are handy if you have them

Scholarship winner Learns to say “Yes” to life

Scuba scholarship winner faces her fear and becomes a new diver.

Pamela Jean Kreigh, Winner of the 2102 Women’s Divers Hall of Fame Ocean Pals scholarship. This scholarships is is sponsored by Kids Sea Camp and Family Dive Adventures.

Trying not to hold my breath….breathing through the regulator….watching the bubbles rise past my mask…hearing the startlingly loud percolation of the regulator as it supplies me with air.  Watching my own hand, magnified, as it grips the descent chain too tightly.  I press the deflation button on my BCD in quick bursts and will my hand to let go of the chain.

This was no swimming pool, where I could stand up or shoot quickly to the surface if something went wrong.  It was the White Star Quarry in Gibsonburg, Ohio, and I knew that I’d have to descend to at least 45 feet that day if I wanted to become a certified scuba diver.

As I sank slowly into the quarry water, going deeper than swimming-pool depths for the first time in my life, I took some time to look around myself.  I wanted to remember this moment.  I could see other divers above and below me, hanging onto my descent chain and other chains around me.  All of us were first-time divers, all of us were nervous.  Every now and then, I made eye contact with other divers, and I wondered if my eyes looked as wide behind my mask as theirs did.

My buddy diver was Kari, one of our instructors—I’d told her about my boating accident and my resulting water phobia before we got in, so she buddied with me purposefully.  She made frequent eye contact with me and gave me reassuring “OK” signs.  Every time, I signed back “OK,” and it wasn’t a lie…I really was doing OK, much to my surprise.

Remembering everything I had to do as a diver kept me busy and focused, which helped to keep my fear at bay as I went deeper and deeper into the water.  Equalize.  Go slowly.  Equalize.  Short burst on the BCD.  Equalize.  Signal OK.  Equalize.  (I had some trouble with the equalizing part.)

I was surprised when I landed gently on the platform, 25 feet down.  I could see the bottom of the quarry, another 10 feet below.  It didn’t feel like I was that far underwater.  It didn’t feel real at all.  It felt like I was watching a scene in a movie.  Or perhaps dreaming it.  Divers floating all around me at my platform, other divers further away on other platforms, visibility fading into blue-green twilight in the distance.  Our instructors hovering like bulky neoprene angels with their hands folded in front of them, nodding at us as if in benediction, making eye contact and signaling OK to each of us in turn.  The surface of the water shimmering like heat waves, far away, above me.  A dream, surely.

As I took another moment to look around, trying to register and remember everything, I also looked inside myself.  Was I really OK?  Astonishingly, I wasn’t afraid!  Not even a little.  I was too busy, too focused, too excited, too exhilarated by this experience to have any time or energy to waste on fear.  And fear was the one thing I had expected with concrete surety.

I grew up boating and swimming—a real water baby.  Motor boating, sailing, canoeing, swim team, skiing, river tubing…you couldn’t keep me out of the water as a child and teen.  And then, in my 16th summer, an accident happened that reshaped my relationship to water.

I was river canoeing with a group of friends on the appropriately named Mad River.  Fast and dangerous, that river has a bad reputation.  The canoe I was in swept broadside against a large mid-river logjam and flipped.  My friend was thrown clear, but I reflexively, foolishly, hung on to the yoke, which meant that I went with the direction of the flip.  I was immediately trapped underwater, between the upside-down canoe and the logjam.  The river was moving fast.  The water was black with silt, completely opaque.  The current held me firmly in place, with the canoe smashed against my chest and my back against the logs.  All of me was underwater, including my head, which was turned forcibly sideways and pressed backwards by the hull of the canoe.  I couldn’t see, couldn’t move, couldn’t breathe.  I could reach across, with outstretched arms, and brush my fingertips against the far gunwale, but I couldn’t push the canoe away from me.  I could get my hands up next to my shoulders, but then didn’t have enough strength or leverage to push the near gunwale into the current.  I was well and truly trapped.

I remember very little about what happened next.  I do, however, remember thinking, very clearly, that I was going to die that day.  It should have been terrifying, but I wasn’t afraid in that moment—just sad and a little disappointed.  As I struggled to push the boat away, and as my lungs started to feel like they were on fire, a single, shining thought went through my mind like a thread of bright silver light in a dark room: “What a shame, for me to die like this…I’m only 16 years old.”

It is the truth, by all the laws of nature and physics, that I should have died that day.  No one was coming to my rescue—my friend in the boat had been thrown clear when the boat flipped and didn’t know where I was.  There was nothing I could do to push the boat away in the few seconds of oxygen my body had left in it.  I wasn’t even wearing a life jacket, because we were typical teenagers with no sense of our own mortality.

But it is also the truth that my head broke the surface of the water 30 feet downstream, and that I was conscious when I came up.  I had to have been conscious the entire time, because if I’d lost consciousness I’d have drifted and drowned, not surfaced.  I don’t know how long I was under, but my friend had enough time to swim to the logjam and clamber onto it.  She was looking for me, shouting, panicking.

I have absolutely no recollection of what happened between the moment of that single, shining, sad thought and the moment when I surfaced.  But that experience turned me from a joyous, carefree water-baby into someone who couldn’t get into water any deeper than her knees unless that water was crystal clear.  I was calm in swimming pools, but being deeper than my knees in any lake, river, or ocean water that had the least amount of silt in it was completely out of the question.

So, for me to descend 25 feet into a quarry, where the water got gradually more silty with depth, was quite an accomplishment indeed.  And for me to do that without any fear at all…to be enjoying myself…it truly was astonishing.  The only things I had any reservations about were going past the 30-foot CESA we had practiced in the pool (horizontally of course), and a lurking, unfounded worry that my BCD would spontaneously inflate and I’d pop to the surface too quickly and sustain lung damage.

We went through our skills exercises with no problems, and I felt increasingly confident.  Then the fun started.  We went on a tour of the quarry.  I kicked away from the platform, experimenting with my BCD, trying to control my depth.  Breathing through the regulator had already become second-nature.  I followed Riley (our other instructor) as he swam away into the murk.  I was concentrating on keeping up with him, clearing my mask occasionally, and not floundering around with my arms.  As we went, I checked my SPG and realized that we had gradually descended another 20 feet—I was forty-five feet under water, well past the CESA we had practiced, and I wasn’t afraid!

When we surfaced (without any lung damage, of course) all I wanted was to go again.  And I did, three more times over the next 24 hours.  More skills exercises, more tours of the quarry, swimming through hoops (literally—the quarry is set up with lots of interesting things for divers to see and do).  And every time I got back in the water, I felt more and more like I belonged there again.  I was a dolphin…a mermaid!  It was delightful…amazing!… to be so at ease in the water!

When Kari and Riley signed my dive log, indicating that I was a certified diver, I felt a sense of pride and accomplishment that I hope I remember for the rest of my life.  Not only because of having learned how to dive (which is, of course, cool in the extreme), but also because of what this event represents in my life.

I’ve spent the past four years learning to say “yes” to life again.  As a child and teen, the world around me was tremendously, unknowably huge, filled with limitless chances for fun and growth and excitement.  I grew up and went to college and got a career, then quit the career to raise my children.  Somewhere along the way, my world became very small—bounded by vague fear and negativity, with a constant underlying attitude of “I can’t do that.”    I don’t know how it happened…it was a gradual shrinking of my confidence and of the boundaries of what I thought I could do.  A gradual settling for a smaller, sadder life.  And then, four years ago, I started taking karate lessons with my children.  I joined the lessons because I had gotten tired of just sitting and watching whatever fun thing I’d arranged for my children.  I remember watching the teens at karate, doing katas and jump-kicks and other cool, amazing things, and I’d think, “Wow, I’ll never be able to do that.”  Imagine my surprise…after four years of joyous hard work and study, I’m now a second-degree brown belt, and I have a firm resolve to attain my black belt.

And I’ve learned that I can do that, whatever “that” is.

 

I started saying “Yes…YES!” when life offered other opportunities for fun and happiness and adventure.  I was invited to become a ski instructor at our local resort after one of the instructors there saw me teaching some of the kids on the slopes… and I said YES!  A friend suggested that I apply for a scuba scholarship from WDHOF and I said, “Become a certified scuba diver?  Hmm, well, I have this water phobia…but YES, I can do that!”  Travel to China on a shoestring budget?  Yes, I can do that!  These are life-changing events.  They’ve reopened my eyes to the wide wonder of the world around me.  They’ve deepened my appreciation of the time I have and how I want to spend it and the things I want to do.

 

I’ve learned that anything is possible…that I can do anything, if only I keep myself open to the world and all the wonderful, exciting opportunities it presents.   If only I’m willing to take the chance and find out what I really can do, instead of focusing on what I can’t do.  This adventure—the adventure of me conquering my water phobia and getting my scuba certification—is another chapter in the delightful, ongoing book of my new approach…saying YES to life.  And I can hardly wait to see what’s next!

Her first Manta encounter

A Manta

by Hannah McClure
I smelled the salty air as I strapped on my scuba gear.  I was anxious to get into the ocean.  I hoped and hoped and hoped that I would see the one thing I’ve always wanted to see:  a manta.
This summer, I was in Yap, an island in Micronesia, to scuba dive with my family.  This morning, I was excited to go scuba diving with my friend, Sophie.  My other friends were scuba diving with their parents, so it was just Sophie, Bill Acker (our instructor), Patricia Mangthin (his wife) and I.  Bill had decided that we would go to the manta cleaning station to try to see some manta rays.  We had tried so many times that my hopes weren’t too high, but as we got closer and closer to the diving site, my hopes inched higher.
Now, here I was, my hopes higher than the sky.  I put on my mask and stuck my regulator into my mouth.  As I tumbled into the water, I shivered.  The water wasn’t cold, but I always feel chilly when I first jump in.  When everyone was in the water, we descended into the ocean.
Sophie and I swam through the cool, salty water.  We spotted brightly colored fish and little hermit crabs but no mantas.  My heart sank.  Just as I was about to give up, Sophie jabbed me in the shoulder.  I was about to give her that “what did you do that for?” look when I realized she was pointing at something.  I looked.
“A manta! A manta!” I yelled. I had my regulator in my mouth, so it came out like, “Blubablurbla!”
Patricia waved at us to come to a better place to watch.  The manta ray was so big and graceful as it swan through the blue sea.  It had a white belly and a dark blue back. Soon, another one came and joined it.
As we swam back to our boat, I replayed what just happened in my head.  My heart was pumping hard in my chest.  I was so excited!  It was the first time I had ever seen a manta ray, but not the last.