PADI MSDT Maryse Dare continues her Scubaverse blog with part two about teaching children to dive…
So our younger divers have achieved their Master Seal Team. Where to now? One natural progression is the PADI Open Water course. By ensuring the children have mastered their skills early on, the Open Water becomes a great course to instruct. The children are starting the course with great buoyancy and confident with mask and reg skills.
We transition into Open Water gently; there is no discernible difference in the structure of the session: brief, dive, debrief. We include some dive time at the end to ensure the sessions are not focussed on skills, but rather the skills feed into the diving. We will cover a little of the theory to help break down some of the concepts.
And then it’s into Open Water! Depending on the time of year a dry suit might be required. We run the orientation after the confined dives but before the Open Water dives. For the Open Water dives the parents have always come along and stayed for the day. We run with only one child in the water at a time, so a ratio of two professionals to one diver. This allows us to have one person focussed on the diver, and one on navigation. Once the diver is completely comfortable then we take more divers into the water at the same time.
We always offer additional dives as part of our Open Water course, so we offer them for the Junior Open Water too. Where children have parents who dive we will offer them the opportunity to hop into the water too so they can dive with their children in a controlled environment before they dive elsewhere with different instructors or divemasters. It also gives us an opportunity to feedback a little about the expectations they should have when they dive in other locations and with other professionals.
Where someone dives with the same instructor for their entire training it can lead to an over reliance on that instructor so the post-qualification dives are important to ensure that doesn’t happen. Having a secure team of divemasters, or other instructors, can help with this as they can conduct the first dives that the children are completing as “proper” divers.
The Open Water course is perhaps the most important of all; get it right here and we’re sending out secure and safe divers who are able to self-reflect, risk assess and ensure they dive to protect and celebrate our underwater environment. By investing heavily into the Junior Open Water courses we are sending out Ambassadors into our community who can lead by example and further spread the love for diving.
Matthew (pictured) is our first Youth Ocean Diver Ambassador (yes – we rearranged the words to give us a better acronym; he is a YODA!). He started with the PADI Seal Team and took to the water immediately so he continued and is now a Junior Open Water Diver. Matthew’s diving journey is continuing by supporting at pool sessions. He leads by example, demonstrating skills alongside the instructor.
The highlight of his course came when we were in Wraysbury. The tank was very low on air and we put it in for a fill. He was asked why we shouldn’t let tanks go so low and he gave a brilliant and accurate response. On a personal level this was when I realised the value of taking six months to complete the Open Water course; the learning was broad and deep. Add in Matthew’s brilliant buoyancy and I’m looking forward to his Dry Suit course this year (2018) followed by his Advanced Open Water!