Hundreds of young tourists are learning to dive in Cayman’s waters through a series of courses and camps aimed at the next generation of scuba lovers.
A focus on young divers led to more than 100 young visitors getting their first experience of the underwater world during Kids Sea Camps at Divetech in West Bay.
The camps are designed partly to provide adult divers with kids the opportunity to indulge their passion, while giving their children something fun and constructive to do.
The Cobalt Coast Dive Resort hosted families from all over the world in the last two weeks of July.
Diving parents explored Cayman’s famous drop-offs and reefs while their children attended sea camp. In addition to scuba lessons and diving, the kids learned about marine identification, conservation and digital photography.
Divetech owner Nancy Easterbrook said, “The kids are little sponges, anxious to learn and explore, and to impart the value and fragility of the ocean and its inhabitants to them at a young age is invaluable.
“The staff love teaching kids … I always say that they become new ambassadors for the oceans.”
Grand Cayman is one of several destinations where Kids Sea Camps are hosted. The programme was the brainchild of Margo Peyton, a scuba diver and parent who faced a quandary during dive vacations. “When I went off diving I felt guilty,” she said. “There was no place where a parent could go to experience the ocean with their kids, like skiing. Nobody had a ‘bunny’ slope for kids in diving – it didn’t exist.”
Ms Peyton discovered she wasn’t alone. To serve this niche market, she teamed up with PADI, destination partners and sponsors to launch Kid’s Sea Camps. She estimates about 5,000 kids have been safely certified to dive at some level through the sea camps, including at Divetech.
“They are fantastic and one of the best teaching facilities worldwide. Cayman has become our front door for families, it is absolutely one of the best destinations we can offer,” she said.
The Southern Cross Club in Little Cayman will run Kids Sea Camps next summer. Elsewhere on the island youngsters can learn to dive through PADI’s bubblemaker programme.
Elena Rankin, nine, tried the course with Red Sail Sports in East End.
“It was amazing,” she said, “because I felt I was a fish. I saw lots of cool things under the dock, including a baby stingray.” Her family vacations in Grand Cayman every July, with parents and a brother who are certified divers.
“We were thrilled that Elena enjoyed herself and took to it so naturally,” said her mother Jen Rankin. “We feel it will prepare her to be a great diver in the future.”