Having had one myself, I know a bit of the troubles


Outer Bamnks diving on the Great Escape Southern California Live-Aboard Dive Boat

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Posted by Wayne on June 30, 2003 at 08:22:59:

In Reply to: Should 10 year olds be diveing? posted by Captain Tim on June 29, 2003 at 21:58:04:

I have four daughters, all certified divers. The youngest certified at 10. The others were all older when they did. My wife and I have been diving since the '70s and are pretty comfy in the water.

All my children have grown up at the beach and have been body boarding and body surfing since they were toddlers. They are comfortable with salt water in their mouths while being "maytaged" by surf. They are used to jumpng into the cold pacific with and without wetsuits.

But, only one was ready to dive at 10. And she was well prepared as she began working on it at 8. So for two years she worked on the book part and was well skilled in performing the demonstration skills she would do in the pool.

Now to the troubles we had with her:

1. Wetsuit issues are a definate problem. Getting one that fits is a pain and getting a kid into it is harder. They better REALLY want to do the dive. If they are hesitant, they will be way too tired of it all to be up for a dive.

2. Weight belts are not well suited for little kids' bodies. This again makes it really hard for them to be comfy entering and exiting the water. And the amount of weight is HUGE compared to the kid size.

2a. ALso tanks are way too big and heavy for a small person. This daughter was an airpig, because she really took to heart the ALWAYS BREATHE instruction and could suck down an 80 when her 250 pount father has 200o PSI left. After a while we told her to breathe normally, but you have to be careful to prevent overloading them at a young age.

3. Maturity level is not sufficient to plan and execute dives. They need to have the dive totally controlled by mature people.

4. How many parents are skilled enough to dive with their kid? Most adults that I see diving are not skilled enough to dive with a kid -- the problem is that they do not realize it. We have all seen these adults who think they are good (advanced) divers who do not plan, do not practice, do not keep track of theirs and their buddy's air, who get stressed when little things go wrong, etc. Put a newbie kid in the mix and it can be a disaster.

5. Where do you take them diving? I found that the Caymans and Hawaii were good places for kids because of the gentle beach entries and shallow water that was warm and clear. Local waters are colder, harder to maintain a proper constant watch in, and entries and exits are harder. Taking a 10 or 12 year old diving here is much more difficult. We found that it takes two big buddies. One to lead the dive so the kid knows where to go and the real buddy behind the kid doing full time watching. The wife and I trade off positions to keep the stress manageable during the dive. You cant have the kid behind you if you ar ethe supervising buddy.

6. There is no fun in the dive for the adult. It is a labor of love that will alloow this Jr diver to apprentice into a position of being a diver over time. It is cetainly not something to be taken lightly.

I did not see this incident (wrong word, I suppose), but I feel for all involved. It is hard to be a parent of a kid diver. As they grow up, they can become good divers and good buddies. Is it worth it? Yes, I think so, but it is much harder than taking the kids skiing or camping. The real problem is that the parents may not realize it and act accordingly.

Wayne


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