Snorkeling And Scuba Diving For Kids

Children ages 5-11 can have fun and learn to snorkel and SCUBA dive safely through PADI instruction.

If you have ever had trouble prying your child out of the bathtub or pool, watched "Finding Nemo" more than three times in one day or find yourself dodging daily requests for a fish tank, your child is a perfect candidate for scuba diving or snorkeling. Scuba diving can be an exciting sport but is often considered exclusively an adult activity. Over the past few years, responding to growing interest programs for children interested in underwater exploration have grown. Once limited to kids over age 12, instructions and supervised activities are now available to participants as young as 5 years old.

You want me to let my child do........ WHAT?

SCUBA is an acronym for Self-Contained-Underwater-Breathing-Apparatus. This allows humans, who require air to breathe, to remain underwater for extended periods of time using compressed air in a tank carried on their back. While safe and easy to do if properly trained, SCUBA does entail certain risks if safely procedures are not strictly adhered to. Thus, dive shops and tour operators require that participants be certified by a recognized diving society.

PADI, the world's leading diver certification agency has created organized instruction available at dive shops and resorts worldwide. Dive shops recognize PADI's Open Water Diver Certification, or C-card for unsupervised diving. Contact your local dive shop or locate a reputable shop in the area you are planning to travel to for available courses. Another recognized certification agency is NAUI. Until recently, certification was available only for divers over the age of 12.

PADI's well organized and supported educational programs provide structured and consistent lessons to divers worldwide. By choosing PADI dive training, kids receive uniform training in basic safety skills. PADI certification and referrals are recognized at the majority of dive shops and dive training programs and provide instructors with an accurate assessment of each participants skill level. Uniformity and consistency in training assure the highest level of safety possible. All PADI programs are supported with crew packs- a collection of books, reference cards, a dive log and other materials. Video or DVD lessons may be available to go along with the written materials.

For parents who are enthusiastic scuba divers, or feel their child will enjoy learning about undersea life, many options are available for kids as young as five. PADI offers several programs for kids under 12. To participate in any of these, your child needs to be able to listen to the instructor and follow directions.

For kids 5-8

SASY is an acronym for Supplied Air Snorkeling for Youth. In about an hour, children as young as five can be trained how to safely use scuba breathing apparatus while snorkeling. By having an air supply, snorkeling becomes more enjoyable and less intimidating. 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.

For kids over age 8

PADI's Bubblemaker program is designed for kids aged 8-9. Kids learn to breath underwater using compressed air. Using actual scuba equipment in the pool, participants gain the skill of and breathing while completely submerged. About $100 for the session.

The PADI Seal Team program sends kids on is exciting scuba "AquaMissions." Enthusiastic young divers can join in an action-packed adventure which familiarizes them with scuba equipment and increases their comfort level. Basic skills needed for safe diving such as buoyancy control, mask clearing and regulator recovery are taught. After building a solid foundation of scuba skills, the fun begins.

Some of the activities offered, called "Aquamissions", include underwater photography in the pool and using underwater flashlights in the pool. The crucial skill of buoyancy control is taught by likening it to being an astronaut. PADI's specialty dives form the basic for the "AquaMissions", and expose kids to wreck diving, environmental awareness and other important safety and diving skills. Like all PADI programs, the course includes an activity book, video, AquaMission Log book and decal recognition application and certificate.

When kids complete five of the courses, they become 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.

By completing a PADI Student Diver Record and Referral Form, children's skills are recorded. Show it the divemasters at any PADI Dive Center or Resort and kids can continue the steps to certification where they left off.

Offered at dive destinations and Dive Centers throughout the world, PADI's Discover Scuba programs let the entire family safely experience diving the wonders of the undersea world while supervised by a qualified instructor All programs require a completed and signed PADI Discover Scuba program statement.

To begin the PADI Open Water Diver program, participants must be at least 14 years old. For kids between 10 and 14 there is a PADI Junior Open Water Diver program available. Once certified, a PADI Jr Open Water Diver between the ages of 10 and 11 years old is able to dive to a maximum depth of 40 feet(12m) with a PADI Professional, a certified parent or certified guardian. Advance Open Water certification and Rescue Diver certification are available when Jr Open Water divers turn 12.

A love of adventure, fascination with sea creatures and enjoyment of water activities are some of the reasons kids are enthusiastic about learning to dive. Mastering the basic skills needed for safe diving within PADIs structure programs enhances self-esteem and confidence. Parents find that diving lessons give kids an opportunity to be responsible and self-reliant in a professionally supervised and safe environment. Diving is an educational activity the entire family can participate in. Best of all, as divers skills grow, the options for further training expand as well.

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