Scuba Diving can be great fun for the entire family. Children as young as 8 years old can be certified on some level, and those 12 – 15 can receive many of the same certifications as adults. Scuba Diving is a great way to teach your children about the world around them and gain a greater appreciation for the environment and protecting the natural world.
Of course anyone even children, can enjoy their first foray below the surface by snorkeling or “skin diving” Most people, including the little ones, can snorkel quite well the first time out.
A great way to introduce kids to Scuba who may not be old enough to get out in the open water just yet is through PADI’s, (www.padi.com) Seal Team program. This fun and action packed program for 8-10 year olds teaches introductory to basic scuba skills in a pool through a series of exciting “Aquamissions”, where the kids get to role play and become certified as “Aqua Mission Specialists” while learning real Scuba skills. A similar program is the Scuba Rangers, created in 1999 by Scuba Schools International. Like PADI’s program the Scuba Rangers (www.scubarangers.com) were developed to give younger children access to the world of Scuba, and build scuba skills and self esteem in a pool environment. Older children, 10 – 12 year olds, can receive a Junior Open Water Certification, which will allow them to dive with a certified adult to a depth of 40 ft. Upon their 15th Birthday kids holding Junior Open Water Certification can convert it to an Open Water Certification. The top dive agencies have recommended these age parameters because scuba diving and dive medicine professionals agree that children under the age of 14 do not posses the emotional maturity to deal with potential dive emergencies. This can lead to panic and a rapid accent – one of the most common reasons for dive injuries. Experts agree these “intermediate” activities are safe and fun alternatives for younger children and provide the preliminary skills and confidence that will make them better and more resourceful divers when they are old enough for full blown Scuba certifications. Scuba has become so popular among teens and children that many parents seek out and send their kids to Scuba Summer camps. These camps offer great opportunities for young scuba enthusiasts and budding Marine Scientists alike to learn and have hands on experiences in the marine environment. A scuba summer camp can be a wonderful experience for your child, and are found in some of the best dive locations and aquatic habitats in the world from The Florida Keys to the Amazon.
Introducing your children to the underwater world either through snorkeling, scuba diving or both is great way to share family experiences, build confidence, and grow a greater appreciation and understanding of the world around us and your child’s place in it.