The beginning of Kids Sea Camp seems like just a few moments ago — not 20 years, according to co-founder Margo Peyton.
When she first started it, her son Robbie was only 6 years old and daughter Jen then 4.
“As a mother and businesswoman I wanted so much to spend time with them and to be with them every day. I wanted to watch them grow up in front of me and show them the world rather than have them read about it in a book.”
As a single mother with two kids, working 8AM to 6PM six days a week at a dive travel agency in 2000, it was impossible to find summer camps for her kids that she felt were educational, safe, fun and enriching.
“Jennifer would get so upset when I had to go away and lead trips. She wanted to know why she could not come. Robbie was combative and angry about being at the other day camps I would sign him up for. It was really a huge dilemma for me.”
Carolyn Pascal, then the publisher of Skin Diver Magazine, and Peyton were sitting on a beach in the Bahamas during another work trip, and both of them were missing their kids.
“I said to her, that I truly wished we could find a way to take our kids on dive trips. She agreed and right there we started creating a vision that would become one of the greatest ideas I have ever had. Carolyn had the media and I had the resorts.”
Together, the two pooled their resources and the first Kids Sea Camp family dive adventure week took place in Curacao with Ocean Encounters and the Curacao Sea Aquarium in 2000 with just seven families that first trip.
Fast forward to today, and Kids Sea Camp is going into its 20th year with Peyton’s daughter Jen will be 24 and Rob will be 26, she said.
“My kids are grown and so are many of the 7,000 plus other kids that have become certified divers through Kids Sea Camp over the past 20 years. Now Kids Sea Camp has over 300 families a year that travel to 13 plus countries with 20 weeks each year.
“I’m so very proud and grateful to my dive industry PADI and the dive media and SCUBAPRO as well as all the resorts and dive operators who have stood by me and celebrated our brand together. I’m thankful to all the families for choosing Kids Sea Camp as their choice for their family dive vacation. Some of those kids and even instructors now have their own families and keep coming. Many are now grandparents who are bringing their grandkids.”
As part of the 20th Anniversary festivities, the organization is celebrating “20 for 2020,” with 20 Kids Sea Camp event weeks taking place in 2020. Additionally, new “Empty Nester” dive trips have been created for those parents that have grown-up kids, but still want to travel with someone they know and trust. There are new destinations and liveaboards as well as PADI Pro courses for all those kids turning 18 and older that want to become Dive Masters or even Dive Instructors.
For more info, go to familydivers.com.