As a PADI Pro, one of the questions I am most often asked is ‘How did you start diving?’. For me, it started when I was 10 years old and I did a try dive on holiday on the Isle of Wight, during the rather cool British summer in an outdoor pool! Despite the cold, damp conditions, I absolutely loved it and immediately asked my parents why I hadn’t done this before.
Through the PADI system, children from the age of 8 years old can experience the underwater world by enrolling on the Seal Team course. This is in 2 parts and begins with Aquamissions 1-5 which teach responsibility and respect of the aquatic world along with basic scuba skills such as mask clearing and regulator recovery. Students can then choose to continue with part 2 and complete a further 10 Aquamissions in specialist areas such as wreck diving and fish identification. All of these are conducted in the swimming pool and each mission usually takes about an hour.
Teaching children is hugely rewarding; their enthusiasm for learning, drive to succeed and do well usually far outweighs that of an adult who has paid for the course on their own! As an instructor, teaching children can also be one of the more nerve-racking experiences - no fear of the water, willingness to give everything a go immediately, speed underwater - definitely keeps me on my fin tips.
At the age of 10 children can earn their Junior Open Water certification. This is exactly the same course as the adults complete, the only difference being a depth restriction to 12m and the need to dive with a PADI professional or parent/guardian. In my opinion, students who have already earned their Seal Team certification have a great advantage; they will have spent a good few hours underwater, learned the basic scuba skills and even begun to master buoyancy control.
For younger divers, the options don’t end there though! Once Junior Open Water certification has been achieved, they could continue to do their Junior Advanced and then even the PADI Junior Rescue Diver Course. The requirements are all the same and having taught quite a few family groups, it has been lovely to see parents and their children achieve these milestones together.
If committing to a scuba course is too much of a big step, why not join us on our next Project AWARE Course? This teaches about environmental responsibility, our role in protecting the ocean planet and how we can be ambassadors for a cleaner planet.
As a (very new) parent, I can see a huge value in doing something like scuba diving with my children. It’s not really a solo sport is it? We teach from the very beginning the benefits of the buddy system, working together to assemble kit and just generally helping each other out. Personally, I can’t wait to share this passion with my son.
For more information about any of our youth courses, feel free to contact us or visit one of our pool sessions to discuss further.