Kids Sea Camp is one giant family reunion
KSC is just one giant family! After a few trips, our family had made friends from all over the world. Now it’s like attending a big family reunion with people I feel like I’ve always known. The resorts and dive staff make you feel special and are always offering jaw-dropping experiences.
Without the experience of traveling around the Kids Sea Camp (KSC) world over the last 5 years, I simply would not be the same person. Seeing the world through diving has taken me far beyond what I would learn in my own school or community. It has given me more life skills, introduced me to new places, different cultures, and allowed me to learn about the world above and below 1’st hand.
My first trips were to Bonaire, Roatan, and Utila. They were a blur of blow-karting, zip-lining, zombies, and wild dolphins. Even though I was young then, I was apart of so many amazing activities and I made friends that I still dive with today like Kai Hunsicker and Max Lavinsky.
When I was just 9, my mom signed me up for the KSC PADI Seal Team program. She was really worried about the dive gear not fit me because I was so little. KSC owner Margo Peyton told mom she had plenty of small tanks and BCs available for all kids my size. I loved every minute of being underwater and experiencing zero gravity. I liked listening to the sounds of fish munching on the reef. I take a training course on every KSC trip so I can become a better diver. I have completed my PADI JOW, AOW and I became a PADI Jr, Rescue Diver at Buddy Dive in Bonaire. I completed my Master Diver Certification in the Philippines with Sea Explorers last summer. Next year I turn 15 and I’m excited about taking my PADI Jr. Dive Master course in Dominica.
Grateful for my Kids Sea Camp family
I have to say, I am very grateful that my parents, who are long time scuba divers wanted to keep diving and include me. We make KSC our giant family vacation every year. KSC is definitely not just for kids!
Sometimes I think my parents (Beth and John Burkhard) have more fun than anyone. Margo and Tom Peyton, (my aunt and uncle in this giant family) strive to make each vacation personal and they focus on family fun for all members of your family. They even gave my parents and Kai’s parents some added privacy on our Philippines trip which meant Kai and I got our own room. It was awesome!
Tom usually sets up all the sporting activities on trips, like volleyball, soccer, football, and he gets everyone going with basketball too. He and Woody like to host Karaoke or ocean trivia after dinner.
Tom is one of the best underwater guides ever. You will always see crazy little critters while following him around the reef. The big stuff, I’m better at finding, like the Giant Manta I spotted in Dauin and then in Oslob, I did a giant stride off the front of the Banka boat and landed right in front of 2 big whale sharks. Seeing whale sharks that close was a jaw-dropping experience! In case you can’t tell, the Philippines trip was my favorite KSC trip.
Some of the really important things I have learned include for instance equalizing my ears. Margo took the time to show me multiple ways to do that. She taught me to slow down and descend and dive at my own pace. Tom says, “when you dive slowly as he does, you will see so many more critters.”
Becoming a better diver
In my rescue course, I learned the importance of dive planning and to be a prepared and observant diver. I have learned how to avoid and solve problems that may occur. The KSC instructors make it fun to learn by applying the theory to everyday scenarios.
There is always a speaker or presentation during our trip. My favorite talk was about ocean trash because I learned the impact of plastic and pollution, and how bad it really is. Woody had us all do a beach cleanup for plastic as part of the Zombie Apocalypse diver program.
The trips also include some local culture cooking, dancing, or visits to a village or school. We bring sneakers and school supplies for the local kids. That was one of the highlights for me because I got to help other kids and learn how kids in other countries live. We learn about their history, culture, and language and that really inspires me.
At the Mountain School in the Philippines, their dances told us a story of their life. The respect they have for their elders and pride shown in their family and schools made me appreciate all the more what my school and family provide for me. I have experienced so many foreign people that are so humble and grateful, to meet me. They are all so happy in spite of having so little compared to what I have in the US. I don’t look at my life the same since I started traveling with my family around the world.
My KSC giant family holds a very special place in my heart. They have taught me so much, while also giving me the world to love.
Morgan Burkhard, age 15