Scuba Diving resorts are making better decisions on safety when it comes to kids and family.
Keeping families and kids safe should always be the #1 priority for traveling families!
For most of my 30-year career, I had been frustrated over having to plead my case to the resort, owners, for better safety provisions for diving with kids. It should have been common sense but it was not. Much has changed and many dive operators and resorts have upgraded their safety standards. I want families to understand how to choose the right resort and how to keep their families safe when booking dive trips or diving with kids and other new divers. What is important to consider, when parents who want to go diving with their kids or take their kids on a dive vacation is all about asking the right questions.
I’m talking to the average family out there that goes on adventure vacations and wants to make scuba diving a part of their lifestyle with their kids or grandkids. Many recreational divers have skipped a few years of diving. They should absolutely take a refresher or go online and do take e:learning for the PADI Scuba Tuneup course. If you do not know the new signals or new skills and your going to be diving with newly certified kids or grandkids, make sure you get up-to-date with your training beforehand. Many adult divers feel comfortable enough being responsible for themselves, but not for another adult, and especially a child. Thinking about taking a child diver underwater with no verbal communication is very intimidating to many parents or grandparents. So let’s get you prepared to feel confident and have some fun with your kids, giving them memories to last a lifetime.
At Kids Sea Camp and with Family Divers, we have a PADI Pro in the water with kids diving at all times. Kids are not allowed to dive with other kids and parents are escorted with a PADI pro on family dives. When families contact me to book them a family dive vacation and want to get their kids or their wife or other family members certified to dive, I handle everything needed for that family. I am confident they will be diving together comfortably once the kids are certified. That means I consider the destination, the type of conditions, the experience level of the parent and I match the dive operator to suit their needs.
I choose kid-friendly resorts and dive operators because I know the dive staff at the resorts I choose have experience diving and teaching for kids. The dive operators I choose I know have small dive gear and tanks for smaller kids. There are many good diver resorts around the world now that are what I consider to be family-friendly and asking the right questions is the most important thing a parent can do when researching on their own.
There should be reasonable rates for the dive instructor that is teaching your course at a vacation resort to continue to dive with the kids for the rest of their stay on the additional dives purchased after certification. If this is something the operator will not do or does not do or is charging you more for the guide than the course, then look for another operator.
Many dive resorts are making changes for the better, they are understanding that creating more divers safely and with common-sense standards, they have repeat clients that have grown to trust them and remain loyal to them and keep coming back as divers. They see that contributing to growing our dive industry by making better choices for families is the smart decision for the future.
I just want to say being a family company who specialized in kids diving with over 7,600 youth certs and no accidents and I have a growing successful business, that puts safety first. I have a 75% repeat client base and 3 generations of travelers on any given trip. I cater to more grandparents sharing amazing adventures with their grandkids because I make it safe, easy and fun for all family members to enjoy the ocean together. Diving creates memories to last a lifetime.
Think of this average scenario NOT at Kids Sea Camp but with any dive operations around the globe you may choose: You’re a certified dad. you are on a family vacation and you have signed your wife and 2 children age 10 and 12 up for an open water diver course. 1 instructor will be teaching all 3 loved ones to dive in 3 days of your family vacation. Then at the end of that 3 days after 5 confined pool dives and 4 open water dives, they are certified. Open water certified Dad is now on his own to assume responsibility for himself and his family in the water.
The dive shop instructor has completed his job and moves on to another class. Dad and his family is loaded onto a boat with his wife and your 3 kids. They have had no open water dive experience outside of the class they just completed. His wife is nervous for herself and the kids. You’re going to be put on a boat with a bunch of other divers and an instructor that is in charge of everyone and will be mainly pointing stuff out. You will need to find your own way back to the boat and manage your family’s depth and time and any issues that come up etc. That is the norm. This is not, in my opinion, acceptable and it is not what I arrange for my clients, it’s not how I teach and work with kids and it does not happen on Kids Sea Camp trips.
Kids Sea Camp has no dive accidents. We have made big changes with the operators around the world we work with or have approved as family-friendly. The resort you choose to dive with teaching your children and family how to dive needs to have the best standard available. When someone is purchasing a weeks stay with you, meals with you, diving with you and a certification course. It should be good standard practice, that that family, that child, should have his or her instructor with them accompanying them on all dives and the remainder of the dives they have booked on their vacation after getting certified.
My analogy for you on this is when your child goes to driving school and completes the course on those two Saturdays. Would you be willing to hand them the keys to your car and let them go drive on I 95? It’s the same.
So with Family Dive Adventures and Kids Sea Camp any time we book a certification course, it is expected and mandatory for our dive pro to accompany them on the remainder of the dive days.
This is not only common sense but it should be common practice. Those new divers have no boat experience they have had no experience of diving on their own. There is so much to remember for them and they need that few days to get it. They need experience practicing. They need to remember safety stops and to remember what to do in current and navigation. The need oversite to practice what they just learned safely so they can become more confident and better divers.
I do understand how expensive it is to dedicate a dive staff member, but when kids are involved, you should demand an added dive pro in the water with kids or new divers regardless. The best family-friendly operators have made changes to accommodate this.
I dive resort that you choose for your family dive vacation, should have special rules in place when diving and teaching children. They should have Created special needs guide pricing for those families that book full packages with and need and want to add on to all they have purchased a dive pro for added safety. Because kids are personal not business when it comes to diving. I find it quite interesting that most dive operator managers and owners that have family and kids make sure their own family has a private dive instructor for their own. I treat every child like they are mine!
I thank all the great family friendly operators I work with around the world that get this! Buddy Dive Bonaire, Sam’s Tours Palau, Clearly Cayman Dive Resorts, Divetec, Belize Underwater, Mayan Divers, Subway Divers, Rocio Del Mar, Galapagos Sky, Sea Explorers Philippines, Anse Chastanet St. Lucia. Aquanauts Grenada and there are more out there making a difference every day. The change will come if you demand it.
By Margo Peyton, PADI MSDT Instructor