Kids Sea Camp fuels Zebe Wakely’s love of photography

Photography: It started out as faint dream now it’s a full-blown passion

Article by Zebedee Wakely, Junior Master Scuba Diver, Age 13 and FDA approved.

FDA: Family Dive Adventures (not to be confused with the Food and Drug Administration)

I just don’t know where, to begin with, this. Kids Sea Camp is just too big and too great to even attempt to write about. But here you are now, attempting to read my jumbled mess of ideas and thoughts, so I’ll give it a go — no promises though.

I should probably start with the exciting stuff, like where I backward roll into a school of 50 plus sharks in Yap (the country, not the small annoying noise made by dogs) or when I’m charging at top speed through the current of Ulong Channel in Palau, but instead I’ll start at the beginning.

At the age of five I started Kids Sea Camping, my parents signed me up in the group known as “SASY”. Little kids get to put on scuba gear but substitute the BCD for a Life Jacket, so we float on the surface while breathing through a regulator.  This gave me my first experience with Scuba Diving.

Since I was already a water baby by six months and swimming by one, I thought Kids Sea Camp was created just for me. Quickly making my way through the dive ranks, I again returned for Seal Team. This was a landmark in my interest for Scuba Diving.

Seal Team is a program for eight and nine-year-olds to learn to dive in a confined water environment.  However, with Kids Sea Camp Seal Team can dive in the ocean.  I just fell in love with diving.

On my tenth birthday, my mom and dad chose Yap & Palau for our family adventure, and that’s where the real story begins. The experiences I had in Yap and Palau were likely some of the best I will ever have.  Completing my PADI Jr. Open Water certification with manta rays overhead, was surely one of the greatest moments of my life.

The feeling I had when I was diving with 15-foot mantas and some 50 plus reef sharks daily, was phenomenal, too amazing to fully describe. Just the idea of going there and doing that again will forever, excite me.

The encouragement given to me by Kids Sea Camp was amazing. The families I met became, and still are, some of my best friends and assets to my life. In Yap, Manta Ray Bay was where I properly learned photography. The support from all of my friends and family is the reason I have stuck with it (unlike a lot of other things I’ve tried). I loved every aspect of Yap, from the diving, staff and the local people. I can safely say that experience has significantly contributed to who I am today

Getting back home to Bermuda, I was so passionate about saving sharks (with Palau being a shark sanctuary) that I set up a small organization called “Save our Sharks Bermuda”.  I collected over 1000 signatures and met with the Minister for the Environment to discuss and plan how best to protect our sharks. Bermuda then signed the “International Agreement on the Conservation of Pelagic Species”. I was so totally delighted about this because I had made an impact on Bermuda and the conservation of the sea.

Having the privilege to be diving from a young age is exceptional. Through diving with Kids Sea Camp over the years, I have climbed the PADI ranks from SASY, Seal Team, Jr. Open Water, Advanced Open Water, Rescue and Master Scuba Diver with over one hundred dives and seven specialties.

This feels too good to describe.  Having a place like Kids Sea Camp, to go through all the ranks, all the way to the top is what I love the most. The experience has been fantastic. I couldn’t have done what I have without it.

I have made lifelong friends and have been encouraged by Margo in a way I could never repay. So thank you, Margo.

Margo deserves a whole part of my story for herself.  She created the best organization that I have ever known. She has influenced me, trusted me and helped me in every aspect of life. She has guided me through diving one step at a time, and with each step

I am even more grateful for her and my family finding her.  She is very focused on safety and an inspirational teacher who is helpful no matter what. She is the heart of Kids Sea Camp!

I just don’t know how to end this. So thanks, mom, dad and sister Holly too. Our family of divers just can’t get enough. FIJI is the next Kids Sea Camp — to dive with the sharks of Beqa Lagoon.