Over the last few years, a number of my friends have received the same birthday or Christmas present from me. While many people would get a little irritated getting the same gift you gave someone else, I have not had that problem. You see I give the gift of experiencing a whole new world, a gift that you as a diver already know and enjoy, the gift of scuba diving. A chance to Try Scuba (SSI) or Discover Scuba Diving (PADI), a chance to get a small teaser of the taste that we have come to love.
These introduction to scuba diving programs are also at times called resort courses. They are often found at resort and vacation locations. They work much like the new car salesman wanting you to get behind the wheel of a car you are looking at. Once you explore the underwater world, it is easier to convince the person to sign up for a scuba diver or even better an Open Water diver course. Many people who may have consider taking a course are put off because of the cost of training. Since they are not sure they will enjoy scuba diving, they are hesitate to risk the money takes to become certified. Often the time it take to complete a course is a consideration. These programs can help resolve those concerns.
The program is not just limited to vacations, many instructors or dive schools also use these programs as a method to interest and recruit new students.
Try Scuba – Discover Scuba Diving
The programs follow the International Standard organizations guidelines. ISO 11121:2009 Recreational diving services — Requirements for introductory training programmes to scuba diving. This standard is mostly a subset of the ISO that govern other certifications.
- Diver Level 1 – Supervised Diver ISO 24801-1 PADI Scuba Diver / SSI Scuba Diver
- Diver Level 2 – Autonomous Diver ISO 24801-2 PADI Open Water Diver / SSI Open Water Diver
As a certified divers you are well aware of the resort programs. They are the first portion of your theory training, first confined water training and the first open water dive, for those that include an open water dive. The discover diver program is a half day event. It starts with some of the basic theory and critical skills. When does items are understood the program moves to a pool or other confined water. There, the basic skills are practiced. The students are taught and practice clearing a mask, recovering a regulator, air sharing, basic BCD operation and removing weight belts.
The open water dive is generally deeper than 6 meters but shallower than 12 meters the same parameters as your first open water dive. The students practice the skills again and then are off with the instructor to explore the underwater world around them. On these dives, the instructor can only have two students at a dive and must remain within reach of them at all times. After 20 minutes or so depending on the instructors preference the dive will be concluded. Many dive centers offer a follow up dive that does not require the theory and confined water portions.
After completing a program, SSI’s “Try Scuba” students will be allowed to apply the “Try Scuba” experience as the first dive in a Scuba Diver or Open Water Certification course. PADI’s Discover Scuba Diving program allows for it to apply, however, it is at the instructors prerogative. Basically you are half way to becoming a scuba diver and one forth the way to becoming an Open Water Diver.
My last ten “gifts” has resulted in 6 new open water divers and two who were totally thrilled but did not take a class. Time and the cost were the main reasons against it. One was unimpressed and the last one could not get over her initial fears. Two more presents have been given and are being planned in the next few months. A couple of the divers I have introduced have done something similar with their friends, expanding the number of divers.
We Need More Younger Divers
Divers Are Getting Older. While the scuba diving industry says that there is a healthy number of new open water certifications each year they really do not release numbers. The industry also publicizes how scuba diving is a family sports. They show that it is not the macho high risk activity that it once was. The accreditation agencies have introduced programs like the “Try Scuba” and “Discover Scuba Diving”. They have also lowering the age to become certified with Junior Certifications and pool programs for even younger children. However, marketing studies show that the face of scuba diving is changing in other ways.
Diving Equipment and Marketing Association (DEMA) has an interesting infographic that shows that scuba diving is mostly older men. The mean or average age on scuba diving liveaboards is 52 years old with 63% being males. Of course liveaboards attract more experienced divers and are at times more costly. Still, the mean age for dive resorts is 41 years of age with 60% male. The median age, that is the age where there are an equal number younger and older is also 41.
A strange part is that the older age groups is also active in training. The largest age group taking training course beyond open water diver is the 46-55 age group. The 66 to 70 age groups outshines the 30-35 age group. A sad point is that only 23% of those taking course beyond open water diver are females.
Let me say that most of my friends are much younger than I am. In my view, the younger people are not focused on scuba diving as much as the older divers I know. For those diving for more than 15 years, my observation is then are more intense in their diving. This is mostly, in my view, because becoming a scuba diver back then was a more intense effort. You generally spent weeks doing alternate sessions in the classroom and pool. Then you did your open water training. Now, like most things in life, scuba diving is more instant gratification. It also leads to broader interest, I seem like people are not drawn to one thing or another.
We should all do our part to introduce some one to the wonderful world of diving. These Try scuba and Discover Scuba Diving programs are an ideal way to do it and the make a gift not soon forgotten.