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  Scuba Diving Programs for Children
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Types of Scuba Diving

Diving programs offered for kids


There are several different organizations that offer Scuba Diving training and instructions for adult and children: PADI, The Professional Association of Diving Instructors and NAUI the National Association of Underwater Instructors.  Besides PADI, YMCA instructional programs include summer diving courses designed for kids.  In addition, local scuba diving organizations and resorts offer overnight summer scuba camps.  There are even scuba trips and vacations that come complete with scuba training and certification. Make sure that the dive shop, school or course your are taking is affiliated with PADI and NAUI. 

How to select a program and instructor?

It is important to shop around and to gather information.  Remember that if something seems too good to be true it most likely is.  If one program is much cheaper than all of the others don't think that you are getting a bargain -- ask more questions.  Make sure the cost includes equipment rentals, books, training materials and fees for open water certification dives.  Select a scuba diving class that offers a comprehensive package.  Look for an instructor that is caring, patient, enthusiastic and a good communicator.

Questions to ask

  • How big are the classes?

  • How many class sessions? How many pool sessions?

  • How many years has the organization been in business

  • How long has instructor been teaching?

  • Have they certified many junior divers?

  • How many students do they have per instructor? Will there be a divemaster too?

  • Where will they do their open water dives?

  • How much does it cost for the course?

  • What gear do the students need to provide?

  • Do they have to rent the scuba gear too?

  • How much are the books?

  • Ask them to describe their instructional style?

  • Who would be teaching the course? What are they like?

  • What is the instructor's level of certification?

  • How many dives have they done?

  • Are they licensed and insured?

  • Are instructors certified in CPR and Rescue Diving?

  • Ask for references from recently certified students that you can contact.

Seek an instructor that has at least one year of experience and has certified a minimum of 25 students.  Seek a class that is taught by a single instructor.  It is beneficial if the students are using the same equipment as the instructor during training. 

PADI, which is the largest and most widely recognized SCUBA certification agency in the world, offers several programs for kids under 12.  PADIís educational programs provide structured and consistent lessons to divers worldwide.  By choosing PADI dive training, kids receive uniform training in basic safety skills which provides all instructors with an accurate assessment of each participants skill level. Uniformity and consistency in training assure the highest level of safety possible.

Scuba requires certification even as a beginner and it allows you to track your progress and advance as far or as little as you would like. All scuba diving starts with Basic Certification. With Basic Open Water Scuba Diving certification you can enjoy many scuba experiences and dive trips. It is not required that you advance beyond basic Open Water however there are many advanced and specialty diving certifications available if you decided to further your experiences. The list of advanced scuba diving certifications is almost endless, specialties in just about every type of diving environment or conditions are available.  For example boat diving, altitude diving, cavern diving, night diver, wreck diver or underwater photography.

Whether you choose to advance with dozens of specialty certifications, or just remain a basic Scuba diver, recreational Scuba divining is an excellent hobby

For kids 5-8

SASY is an acronym for Supplied Air Snorkeling for Youth. This program trains children as young as five how to safely use scuba equipment while snorkeling. It also familiarizes kids with the breathing equipment for subsequent full Open Water Diver Certification. The session is about one hour and costs about $30 for the session. You can find information on the SASY program at PADI Dive Centers and Resorts

For kids over age 8
PADI's Bubblemaker program is designed for kids aged 8-9. Kids learn to breath underwater using compressed air while completely submerged in a pool. This is a good way for children to experience scuba diving in the pool in less than six feet of water. These sessions are about 2 hours and cost approximately $100.

Seal Team ages 8+
The PADI Seal Team is for young divers who are looking for a fun and action-packed introduction to scuba skills in a pool.  Kids learn real scuba skills through a series of exciting "Aquamissions".  Young divers become familiar with scuba equipment, and skills for safe diving.  Bouyancy control, mask clearing and regulator recovery are taught. Once basic skills are learned divers are introduced to underwater photography, wreck diving, navigation, environmental awareness and more. Five completed courses and your diver will be a SEAL Team member. After completing ten missions, they earn a SEAL Team Master certificate. The following specialist courses are offered: Creature ID, Environmental, Inner Space, Navigation, Night, Safety, Search & Recover Skin Diver, Snapshot and Wreck Specialist

 A similar program is the Scuba Rangers, created in 1999 by Scuba Schools International. Like PADI's program the Scuba Rangers were developed to give younger children access to the world of Scuba, and build scuba skills and self esteem in a pool environment.

For Mom and Dad
PADI's Discover Scuba programs allow you and your family to master some basic concepts and scuba skills.  The skills you complete during your adventure may earn you credit in the PADI Scuba Diver or Open Water Diver certifications. All you have to do is document your achievement, and bring it to any PADI Dive Center or Resort to continue where you left off.

Older children, 10 - 12 year olds, can receive a Junior Open Water Certification, which will allow them to build experience, improve skills and exploring diving with limitations. They must be with a certified adult to a depth of 40 ft.  PADI programs include Junior Open Water Diver (ages 10-14), Junior Advanced Open Water Diver(ages 12-14), Junior Master Scuba Diver (ages 12-14) 

At the age of 15 kids holding Junior Open Water Certificaton can convert it to an Open Water Certification. At this age the diver will no longer have age-related restrictions while scuba diving.  Prior to this age it is believed that children do not posses the emotional maturity necessary to deal with potential life threatening dive emergencies.

All PADI courses are "performance based," which means that you only earn your scuba certification when you demonstrate that you have mastered the required skills and knowledge.  Therefore the sessions are extremely flexible and the amount of time it takes to complete the course will vary per individual.  Basically, most students will complete their intial certification in about twenty-five hours spread over a few weekends. 

Certification is extremely important for your safety and it taken very seriously in the industry.  For instance, you cannot rent or purchase scuba equipment without certification from one of the recognized Scuba Diving organizations.

Most scuba certifications are good for life.  You may however, be required by dive shops or resorts, to take a quick refresher course if you have not dived recently. It is important to record your dives in your diver's logbook and have your buddy or dive leader sign it so that you have an accurate record.