Kids Sea Camp healed my family
“Diving healed my family and it happened at Kids Sea Campm,” Lilly Blakey
Lilly Blakey was only 8 years old when she attended her first Kids Sea Camp in Roatan in 2006. “My parents (Rob and Susan Blakey) loved diving and wanted so much to share that joy and love of the ocean with their 3 kids. Stuart age 5 and I were too young to become certified divers, so mom found the perfect family scuba vacation for us. She read about Kids Sea Camp in a dive magazine and learned that Kids age 5-7 could enroll in the PADI SASY program and kids age 8 & 9 could participate in the PADI Seal Team program. My older brother Trey was able to get certified in the Jr. Open Water program for kids age 10-14, So there was something for every member of our family as my mom and dad could go enjoy diving.”
Lilly as a PADI Seal says she remembers putting on her scuba gear for the very first time with her Seal buddy and she recalls having so much fun doing her buddy checks and experiencing that first stage of diving. she could not wait to come back to Kids Sea Camp to become a certified diver as soon as she would turn 10. Two years later her family returned to another family dive trip with Kids Sea Camp and Lilly became a PADI Jr Open Water diver. They promised Stuart the same when he would turn 10. Lilly recalls, “it was so cool to swim with fish and experience zero gravity for the first time. I just love diving and learning about the ocean.”
Lilly has been on nearly 20 Kids Sea Camp family dive vacations, making repeat visits to Utila, Roatan, St. Lucia, Bonaire, and the Cayman Islands. After several trips with her family, she began attending without her family at the age of 15. “My mom had so much respect and trust for Margo Peyton and the program she created, that she asked Margo if it would be ok to send me along as part of the Peyton family,” She says. “Margo’s reassuring presence can help even the timidest diver feel calm and safe underwater.”
There was more to Lilly’s mom’s decision to send Lilly on her own than trust in Margo as an instructor. “My dad Rob Blakey, who was the reason we all attended the first KSC, passed away a week after we returned home. Stuart was just 5 and I was only 10 years old and had just been certified with my Jr. Open Water certification on that trip” She said. “We didn’t go diving again for the next five years. My mom was devastated but she eventually gained enough courage to reach out to Margo and told her that she was ready to go diving again and that she had made a promise to get her youngest son Stuart certified when he turned 10.” Mrs. Blakey wanted him to have the same opportunity and experience that his older brother and sister had.
“Margo made sure that my family went on a week that she personally would be on,” Lilly Blakey says. “While Trey and I were enjoying diving with the other certified kids and Stuart was working on his PADI Jr. Open Water certification, Margo was helping my mom get back in the water again. My mom had only ever dove with my dad and this was a difficult step for her. Margo held mom’s hand and reassured her every step way. She dove with mom each day until she was able to join us diving as a family. It meant the world to us to dive together again.” Lilly says, “Having all of us diving together again even without my dad, has healed our family.”
During that trip, Lilly earned her PADI Advanced Open Water certification, and Stuart got certified. Lilly told her mom she wanted to improve as a diver and keep diving. For the next few years, Lilly’s mom sent her on trips with Margo Peyton along with Robbie and Jennifer Peyton would also be attending. “I would stay for two or three weeks at a time sharing a room with Jen,” Said Lilly. ” I was able to achieve something I really wanted, to become a PADI Open Water Instructor with Jen and Zoe. We took our IDC at Buddy Dive Kids Sea Camp in 2017 and made that happen.”
Now at age 23, Blakey Graduated from the University of Alabama with a degree in management information systems. She works with Kids Sea Camp for 4 weeks in the summer teaching the next generation of divers.
Lilly’s respect and adoration for Margo Peyton come from understanding how tough it is to be a single mom. “Margo created a safe haven for kids to learn and dive, all while on a family vacation. Her dream and her company have literally changed my life, and I know it has done the same for so many others, including Robbie, Jen, and Zoe.” Lilly’s family continue to dive with Kids Sea Camp and have met so many like-minded families from around the world. Lilly says. “Kids Sea Camp is not just for kids, it has so much to offer every age and family member.”