A Great Adventure... Together!
When Tony and Cindy Crane were looking for a family-bonding activity for themselves and their teenage son, they discovered SCUBA diving. The Bethesda, Maryland family is very active with running, yoga and a busy social schedule. Their son Nick is a lacrosse player and skateboarder. They spent three weeks last fall at evening SCUBA classes at our dive school in Chevy Chase, Md., and then a long weekend for their certification checkout dive on Grand Cayman Island in the Caribbean. Now they're card-carrying SCUBA divers, able to dive anywhere in the world. "It's a whole new world underwater," said Tony. "Now anytime we're in a tropical place, we can take advantage of it."
Tropical vacations usually involve snorkeling or resort dives, where hours of instruction may allow you to go underwater with SCUBA equipment with many limits on activity. SCUBA training and certification is carefully regulated by PADI, the Professional Association of Diving Instructors, the world’s leading scuba diving training organization that certifies over half the world's divers. Once you have your card, you can dive almost anywhere.
Levels and specialties include Wreck Diver and Underwater Photographer, but the beginning is Open Water Diver, which has introduced millions to the adventure of diving. Three phases of training include knowledge development, confined dives in a pool to learn skills, and then open water dives to become certified. Our school offers this final component on the many reefs off Grand Cayman Island, and I've found that a trip is a wonderful reward after your class.
Options and Opportunities
Training and certification can be accomplished in as little as a three-day weekend. Or, like the Crane family, you can sign up for a course that meets two evenings a week for three weeks. Certification dives can be done almost anywhere. Usually, interested people begin with a free SCUBA Orientation Session.
Time to Learn to Dive?
Anyone in good health who is 12 years or older can be a SCUBA diver. You don't have to be Navy Seal-fit, either. Basic swimming ability is all you need, and if you like water, you'll love diving. You'll also need a mask, snorkel, fins and weight belt. All other equipment, like tanks and a buoyancy compensator, are available for rent at dive sites and from SCUBA operators.
SCUBA is very safe, too. In fact, fewer people are injured in SCUBA diving in one year than people who go bowling!