Kids Sea Camp Adventures inspires young diver to become new advocate for the ocean

Becoming the voice of the underwater world

My very first dive will always be in my memory, the very first time I was able to become the voice of the underwater world.

I had been excitedly waiting for that moment, even before I had stepped off the airplane into Grand Cayman’s sun. My parents had always spun elaborate tales of their experiences diving and now it was my turn to see the wondrous world they had shared under the waves.

Kids Sea Camp, Family Diving, Family vacationsOn that day of my first dive, the thing that struck me most was that I could actually breathe underwater. I took a deep breath in, to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. I could see the surface was a good fifteen feet above me, but I was breathing. I floated above the sea bottom and just breathed. I beheld the world around me, as I descended into the blue.

Everything was behind me now, as if in another life. I couldn’t hear anything but my own inhales, and those were very quiet, although Darth-Vader reminiscent. When I exhaled, I could hear absolutely nothing else. I now understand why the ocean is sometimes called the ‘Silent World.’

At first, I saw nothing, but upon closer inspection, I saw spiky red sea urchins populating the ocean floor. The urchins fascinated me. I had seen urchins very similar to them in the touch tanks at the aquarium, but I had always assumed that they lived in the deep ocean, not right here off the edge of a dock.

The sun showed right through the water, lighting up all the coral and fish around me. I am filled with awe at all I can see, and at first, I don’t know where to look, perhaps the deep sapphire blue out in the distance, or the small yellow fishes not two feet away. 

My problem evaporated very quickly, and soon I knew exactly where to look. As far as the eye could see there were brilliant oranges, pinks, and reds. The sea-fans were made of a spider web pattern, lacy strands of vivid coral with little holes in between. The tide washed in and out, swishing the sea-fans every time it went. The ocean’s synchronized dancers captivated me: Tide in, sea-fans lean towards shore. Tide out, sea-fans lean away. Their routine was almost hypnotic, dancing to their own silent song.

I remember spotting my first lobster, a beady-eyed creature that was far larger than any I had seen lying on the ice in Pike Place Market at home in Seattle. The way it moved was completely alien to me. I had only ever seen a live lobster in a tiny restaurant tank, crawling over dozens of its siblings.

It’s been years since my first dive, and Kids Sea Camp has given me much confidence as a diver. Each experience has inspired my interests in marine science. I have met other kids and families who share my interest in diving.  Kids Sea Camp is very often the highlight of my summer! It’s what I talk about when I go back to school and write essays about when we get a free topic. I have attained many certifications such as Advanced Open Water Diver, Drift, Shark Aware and even an Underwater Photographer specialty.

I was terrified of sharks, but now I’ve learned so much about them and other marine life. I have been diving with schooling hammerheads at Darwin’s Arch in the Galapagos, black tips at Blue Corner in Palau, grey reef sharks and mantas in Yap, and stingrays in Grand Cayman. I’m just not afraid anymore.

I’ve learned a lot about ocean-related issues, but the declining shark population is what I’ve been focusing on the most. While in Palau, I attended a KSC lecture about the value of a shark’s alive vs. dead.  The amount of tourism that sharks create actually outweighs the profit made from shark finning.  I was fascinated by this and I have been driven to do more — to stay informed about shark finning and other shark issues. Whenever I hear someone make a negative shark comment or reference Jaws, I launch into my mini-speech about sharks and how important they are for our oceans.

You see, diving is my passion. It has let me see and learn about creatures I never knew existed.

I love going to Kids Sea Camp and being able to meet new people and dive with other teens my age. I also like that my parents can dive with adults and I can dive with new found friends.

KSC also has fun excursions while we’re not diving.  My favorite was Jellyfish Lake in Palau. It was so peculiar to swim with thousands of jellies and be able to touch them without getting stung!

Lastly, I enjoy diving as a family and having time to spend as a family.  I don’t feel like I’m on a completely separate vacation. I’ve done a lot of writing or speaking about my diving experiences; I feel it’s important and our responsibility to protect the oceans. I encourage my audience to be active in conservation and consider scuba diving.  I know that most people reading this are divers and they already have the oceans close to their hearts. To you, I will say the most influential thing you can do for conservation is to educate a young person. Bring your children, grandchildren, your godchildren, or your nieces and nephews on a dive vacation, and share with them the underwater world that you love. Present a slideshow at a local school, library, or teen center. If you can pique their interest in diving, even better! Tell families about Kids Sea Camp; Kids 10+ can get their Open Water certifications and those younger can do SASY or Seal Team. 15 PADI dive courses have college credits. Getting the next generation to care about the ocean is key.

 Margo Peyton rocks!  Margo is the creator of Kids Sea Camp and she takes time for each and every family and genuinely wants to know how she can serve and enrich their experiences. She’s also an excellent dive instructor and event planner; she has fun activities arranged for the whole family (4 year-olds to grandparents!) up her sleeve. I think that Margo is secretly Superwoman.

Since I have gotten all of my many certifications and done most of my diving through Kids Sea Camp, I closely tie KSC to my diving “career”. I strongly believe that Kids Sea Camp has been a big part of who I am today. I’m more globally aware and confident because of my certifications. For all of this, I also say THANK YOU to my mom and dad for choosing Kids Sea Camp for our family vacations!   

 My favorite animal encounters so far have been with sea lions and whale sharks in the Galapagos. I felt very safe and well informed and loved sharing those dives with new friends Melea and JB, as well as my mom and dad.

One of my most favorite non-dive excursions was in Palau, with Sam’s Tours — bathing myself in a Milky Way mud bath.  Each trip gives me authentic activities that entail learning about the culture and people.

I am excited to be attending Kids Sea Camp Grand Cayman over my spring break; I’m going to be taking a PADI Jr. Rescue Diver course. I feel it will make me a safer diver and a better buddy. I’m very excited because Rescue Diver is the next big step in dive education and my goal is to become a PADI divemaster when I’m 18.

Remember, the ocean is silent —it has no voice. It cannot speak for itself in debates about marine preserves or commercial fishing laws. I am eager for my voice to be a voice of the ocean, to be a protector and advocate for it. I am a certified diver with just under fifty dives, and after every single dive, I feel a renewed passion towards my goal — to be the voice.  I encourage you to travel and to dive with your families, experience the underwater silent world and become a voice too.

By Audrey Sarin, age 13, PADI Open Water diver and working on becoming a Jr. Rescue diver