By Robbie Peyton
1. I loved growing up traveling with Kids Sea Camps!
It kept me far away from TV and video games for most of the summer, and I made friends in many countries around the world. I’ve kept in touch with most of them through Facebook, and some have become my closest friends.
Growing up at Kids Sea Camp (KSC) has shaped my life in so many ways and contributed to who I am today. I enjoy diving with marine animals in the open ocean, and I’ve learned how to respect them and how to protect them. I learned how much money it takes and how hard you have to work to educate people to protect the ocean, and how important it is not to pollute and overfish.
Through KSC, I learned about the behaviors of many marine mammals, and the marine food chain that keeps nature in balance underwater. Most people do not realize why it’s so sad to put a dolphin in captivity. I learned dolphins and whales have families and friends just like we do. They have a language and emotions, and communicate through clicks and other sounds to one another. I had never given a thought to what it was like to be taken from your home and put in a tank never to see your family again. That’s why I love diving, because I’m a guest in their world, they are not on display in mine.
2. My mom Margo Peyton created the first Kids Sea Camp when I was 6 years old
I started as a SASY kid, and overcame any fear I had of the water learning to snorkel with other kids. By age 8, I had morphed into a PADI Seal and then a Master Seal. Learning to dive gave me confidence in my skills and provided comfort underwater. Jr. Open Water Certification had to wait until I was 10, but was well worth it.
The cool thing about KSC is that each destination is different, so even those of us attending multiple Sea Camps never got bored. As we grew, so did all the amazing activities and adventures that Kids Sea Camp has added over the years — surfing, zombies, white-water rafting and painting.
Like most kids, I love electronics. For 14 years, SeaLife has been giving cameras to the kids. I got mine in Grand Cayman. The DC1400 digital underwater camera has HD video — sign up, and the camera is included. I have many great pictures of my friends from Kids Sea Camp posted on Facebook.
3. Climbing the ranks in diving
I collect dive certifications like Boy Scouts do merit badges, and I think other than ice diving and tech diving, I have them all. Each destination offers the core certifications, specialties and some are even college accredited.
In Utila at Laguna Beach Resort, you can gain certifications like Whale Shark Diver, Zombie Apocalypse Diver, earn Boy Scout merit badges and even ride horses.
In Palau with Sam’s Tours, you can get Wreck Diver, Digital Photo Diver and Shark Diver certifications. And in Yap at Manta Ray Bay, the Manta Diver specialty certification is offered.
In Bonaire, at Buddy Dive you can get Coral Restoration or Rescue Diver certifications.
In Grand Cayman at Cobalt Coast Resort, you can get Advanced Open Water, Project AWARE or Nitrox certifications. I am working on my PADI Instructor Development with Divetech now. I am excited that I’ll be teaching the next generation of Kids Sea Campers soon!
I am 19, and have over 600 dives. People ask me all the time which Kids Sea Camp destination is my favorite. I can’t answer that question, because they are all great — it’s the families who attend that make each one so unique and special. Yap and Palau are a long way to travel to for many people, but experiencing the World War II wrecks wrecks, the big sharks and the mantas with my friends Melissa and Corley was the best.
4. It’s a “family” partnership with some very special people
My mom has been doing this for 25 years now; she is in the Women Divers Hall of Fame for creating a safe place for families to dive and enjoy adventure. Kids Sea Camp has now contributed to 5,000+ PADI certified kids.
The best part is my mom could not have done this by herself. She has had a little help from her friends. Mom has been friends with Troy Bodden from Laguna Beach Resort in Utila for a long time, and Marc Bauman with Sam’s Tours is like a brother to her. When Carolyn Pascal was the publisher of Sport Diver Magazine, she loved the idea so much, she told the whole world about it. Mom practically grew up in Bonaire, and I was born in Grand Cayman. So you see she has a personal relationship with all the resorts and dive operators. She says they are her extended family.
My sister Jen, who is 17, and I have had a great life, growing up under the fins of so many amazing people. Because the resorts are all family owned and family run, they have made each Kids Sea Camp week an unforgettable family adventure.
5. Having a week you’ll remember forever!
What I like about each week is the graduation party at the end for all the kids who have become new divers. Families read a poem or do a skit and sing a song, etc.
I like tubing, the sunset cruise, the night dives, and just jumping off the dock with my family. I love the sea scooters and walls and wreck diving. The best is getting the SeaLife cameras.
My favorite dive sites are Blue Corner in Palau and the Kittiwake wreck in Grand Cayman. I like traveling to the other side of the world with my friends Melissa and Corley. I guess I just really like traveling with other families.
Parents have fun, too!
Parents don’t have to be worried about their kids while they’re diving as the kids are having fun, making friends and learning about the marine life.
KSC has shown me so many amazing places incredible experiences, and it’s getting even better, because now there is Family Dive Adventures.
Thank you, Mom.
For more information on Kids Sea Camp head to http://familydivers.com/