Life is filled with many “Firsts”. And being an ‘instructor of the elements’ and running an outdoor adventure school, I have the great joy of being a part of many firsts for children. First time swimming in the ocean, first time on waterskis, first shark encounter, and, my favourite, first breath underwater on SCUBA.
SCUB for kids, really? Is it safe? How deep will my child go? Will they be safe? What if they run out of air? Is it safe? These are some of the most frequently asked questions, naturally. And when it comes to your child and safety, there are never too many questions. So, as a professional SCUBA instructor, I am happy to share that healthy kids (and well-behaved ones) can most certainly participate in an intro to SCUBA class, and potentially an open water SCUBA dive thereafter.
At SURFside Ocean Academy we offer 4 basic non-certification SCUBA options to our younger students.
SASY | (Supplies Air Snorkeling for Youth) This class is for anyone aged 5 and up who wants to experience the underwater world by snorkeling with SCUBA equipment instead of a snorkel. The children meet with their instructor for a brief introduction on diving, its risks, equipment, skills and talk about the basics of SCUBA. They are introduced to the dive gear and are provided with a small air tank and regulator where they practice their SASY skills in a pool. Once comfortable, the kids may then have the option to take their skills into the ocean. Unlike SCUBA, SASY is set up so the children remain on the surface at all times. SASY is a GREAT intro to diving and a natural progression into the Bubblemaker course.
BUBBLEMAKER | For kids aged 8 and up, kids learn the basics of SCUBA and are able to practice in a pool. Here, we may provide the kids with basic SCUBA skills (mask clearing, regulator removal, etc.) but the goal is fun and learning in a controlled environment. We also set up underwater challenges and games for them under the supervision of our PADI professionals. SEAL TEAM | The Seal Team is an action-packed multi-day program for kids interested in more than just learning the basics of SCUBA. This is a program divided into “AquaMissions” during which kids learn to dive with flashlights, underwater cameras, and more in a pool setting. They will learn and practice specialty dives such as wreck, navigation, buoyancy, environmental awareness in the pool. Kids 8 and up are welcome to participate. It is a great way to have the kids involved in a SCUBA program for more than just one day and with exciting adventures and challenges.
DISCOVER SCUBA | This non-certification program is designed for individuals 10 and up who are not yet certified but would like to try SCUBA diving. This experiencial class is basically Day 1 of the Open Water Diver certification course. Class begins with a brief video on diving including safety and skills, and then takes students to the pool to practice skills and movement in the water. Course covers basic SCUBA skills and movement in a pool setting, and then a beach or boat dive (up to 40 feet) to the amazing and untouched coral reefs of TCI. It is the best way to experience the beauty of the underwater world on SCUBA without the time constraints of a 4 day certification course. You may have the chance to see grouper, sea turtles, lobster, eagle rays, sharks and more!
With diving, it is important to note that there are some medical issues which may prevent an otherwise healthy individual from diving. Some of the most common that I have experienced with children are asthma and behavioural health issues. As a parent/caregiver, be sure to be completely honest with your instructor regarding any health concerns and also when answering the medical questionnaire. Always and only dive with a professional and a reputable dive center or school (we are blessed with the best in Turks and Caicos), and remember to bring an underwater camera for your child’s first breath underwater. It is sure to be one of those “first’s” to remember for a long time.