How I got my start with Kids Sea Camp

By Lord Woodrow Tinsley, 2020

One of the most common questions asked of me, is how did I start my Kids Sea Camp adventures? It’s actually a fascinating story that encompasses a series of fortuitous events.

In July of 2004, I had been a diver for 6 years. I was still a rookie with two years under my belt in my career. I had finally made it to the Caribbean and landed on Curaçao. I checked into my resort and was told that there was a special Kids Sea Camp going on. No big deal I thought, I like kids. Well, the camp took over the resort, neighboring restaurants, and the dive shop was booked. Kids Sea Camp even shut the hot tub off. Sacrilege! I managed to make the best of the week and watched from a distance thinking how cool it would be to bring my future kids back to the relatively new idea of Kids Sea Camp.

Kids Sea Camp, Woody Tinsley, Family dive vacations

Fast forward two years and I’m out and about doing my favorite type of diving:  fossil shark tooth diving. I had just completed my third trip for teeth and had written two articles for Shark Diver Magazine which actually got published.  During that time I was also completing my IDC and was in the process of becoming a SCUBA instructor.  

I was invited to give a presentation at the annual Boston Sea Rovers Clinic (years later I would be accepted into their ranks which was the proudest personal accomplishment of my life.) The night prior to my presentation I was at the speaker’s reception when I met Ed Smith, then the director of programming for a similar dive show called Beneath The Sea. I talked Ed into coming to my presentation and after he saw it he informed me, “You are in!”

Prior to the show, Ed asked if I had any other topics I could talk about. I remember him telling me in a way that suggested that I come up with something so that I could get a free hotel room. I threw together a presentation about ethical souvenir buying; you know dead seahorses, and sharks in jars. I did it as a PowerPoint nursery rhyme though. Cristina Zenato attended it, you know the famous “shark whisper lady”. She is an instructor at UNNEXSO in the Bahamas. She asked if I was an instructor and I said yes.  

I thought she was joking when she invited me down to be a staff member at UNEXSO’s first Kids Sea Camp. I dismissed it as your typical trade show “let’s get a project going” banter, yet two weeks later, I got an email asking for my passport number.  

So I started my adventure, I did the one camp that year. My assignment was SEAL team. I was sent to a beautiful paradise and I dove in a pool all week. Now if you know me now, you know that’s not me. I’m not really a “pool” guy.But, it was the most rewarding week of my life. I got to certify five SEALS, including Nasha and Nay Nay two locals who won a scholarship.  

At the end of the week, I was lucky enough to win my first Sealife camera in a talent show pulling off an especially fantastic rendition of the Thriller dance if I do say so myself. My first KSC week was amazing, truth be told, it actually took Margo until Thursday to learn that I was not permanent staff and only there to work for Kids Sea Camp.

Next year UNEXSO had me back. Another stellar year of SEAL team training, only this time, I had ideas.  I brought a ton of little activities for my little ducklings and the week flew by! Presently, I’ve been to around 30 kids Sea Camps over 14 years.  Each one of them has been a unique and individual experience.

For me…two things stand out about the last fourteen years.

First, your children. I’ve watched them grow up. I have given out almost 500 certifications at Kids Sea Camp. Most of them to your children. According to a statistic I made up, one out of every three Kids Sea Camp Diver will have been certified by me in the year 2035.  I’ve watched them grow as divers, as children, and as people. One of my first Zombie Apocalypse Diver Students is now an instructor! She was 10 in Utila and now an Instructor!   

Second, my own children. You and I all know why Margo started this company. The exhilarating feeling of diving with your children is unexplainable. The ubiquitous parrotfish, the brain coral, the things you and I find banal, and take for granted become exciting again when you view them through their eyes. That purpose sunk rowboat to make an artificial reef is like diving the Titanic to them. For me, sharing this sport with my own children and hearing them talk about diving with the zeal — melts my heart. As I’m sure it does yours.

So what’s next for my Kids Sea Camp story?  To be honest I have no idea.  But it will probably involve years of fun in the sea with Family Dive Adventures and Kids Sea Camp See you there!

A note from Margo and Tom: It is unquestionable that Woody Tinsley has made our company and our lives better. Kids Sea Camp would not be the wonderful fun-loving company of today without Woody’s larger than life influence. Woody reminds us every day to laugh out loud at the bizarre world we live in, to embrace and love each other without limits, and to be gentle and kind as much as you can with everyone you met. Thank you, Lord Woody, for the years of work making our company such a great success.