Scuba Diving resorts can make better decisions on safety when it comes to kids and family.
Keeping families and kids safe should always the only priority!
Today was a day for me to write, from the frustration of having to plead a case of safety over and over when it should just be common sense. So I really want to share this for those of you out there that do not know how hard I work and fight to keep kids and their families safe when booking dive trips, learning to dive. What is important to consider, when parents who are not diving pros and only dive a few times a year want to go diving with their kids and have their kids learn to dive.
Keeping mind that many of my facebook friends are operators and Pros. I’m talking about the average family out there that does a ski trip or goes on adventure vacations and wants to make scuba diving apart of their life with their kids and grandkids and chooses you. Many of them have not dived in years themselves and do not know the new signals, the new skills and do not know what their newly certified kids and grandkids are learning. Many adult divers feel comfortable being responsible for themselves, but not for someone else, and especially a child. The thought of taking them underwater where they can not verbally communicate is very intimidating, to say the least.
At Kids Sea Camp and with Family Divers, we know this. I know this. So we make it the norm that when a parent calls us to get his or her kids or grandkids certified, its a given, that I am going to book the course and everything needed for that family to 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 the dive operator I choose for them.
That means I take into consideration that they have kid-friendly staff that has experience diving and teaching kids. That I know they have small dive gear and tanks for kids. It means that I know they will not bicker or charge unreasonable rates for the dive instructor to continue to dive with the kids for the rest of their stay on the additional dives purchased after certification. This is a battle for me! Do you know many dive operators charge anywhere from $200 per person per day up to $500 pp per day for a private dive guide? That is in addition to the 7 nights they booked, and on top of the meals and diving, they booked and + the courses they booked.
I can tell you from my experience, that most instructors getting in the water with their students are not getting $500 for that dive per person per day. Nor is he getting $200. So why does that resort jeopardize diver safety for money?
I suppose if you don’t want a type of business you can raise the price so high you won’t get it or if you do, then the exorbitant amount of money charged is somehow justified the effort. Or because that dive operator can put 11-20 divers in the water with that 1 instructor he feels he is waisting on private instruction or private guide. So he charges for the productivity he would get otherwise.
But I say, what about the bigger picture? What about creating more divers safely and with common sense? What about growing our dwindling industry? What about being a top choice for families? What about making the best memories and experiences a multi-generational family could have? What about making a safe place for kids?
I just want to say being a family company who specialized in kids diving with over 7,000 certs and no accidents and I have a growing successful business, that puts safety first.
An average scenario NOT at Kids Sea Camp but with any dive operations around the globe: You’re a certified dad. You are being told 1 instructor on his or her own is going to teach your 4 loved ones to dive in 3 days of your vacation. Then at the end of that 3 days, you a diving dad with no other rating are going to be loaded onto a boat with your wife and your 3 kids and you are 100 % responsible for them. They have had no open water dive experience outside of the class they just completed. Your wife is nervous as it is but is doing this as a family. The chance, the risk of someone getting hurt, bolting to the surface or getting lost is weighing on your mind. 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 families depth and time and any issues.
This is why Kids Sea Camp has no accidents. We do not do that. One of the biggest changes we have been able to implement with our operators is that when your facility is teaching children and parents or even elderly how to dive. You need to have a different standard in place. I also expand that to ADHD or Special needs people. 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 have an added dive pro in the water with them regardless. I Do and often at my own expense.
Most families can not afford those rates and it would make them try another sport. I would hope that now that you will want to be a family-friendly resort or dive operation and teaching more kids. Please consider having special rules when diving and teaching children. Create special needs guide pricing for those that book full packages with you 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