My Dive Buddy
I still remember quite clearly the Saturday afternoon in August 1986. I was standing on the bank of a farm pond in Northeast Ohio donning my brand new dive gear getting ready to complete my last day of open water dives. Soon I would be a certified Scuba Diver. On that day my wife of ten months had rode along to see me with all of my "stuff" on. We were a pretty impressive sight, me in my full wetsuit & dive gear and her six months pregnant with our first child. Well the dives went well and I did get my certification and three months later our son Shawn was born.
Over the years since then Iíve made several dives, went on a few trips, and overall have had a great time diving. There have been good years & a few years when for one reason or another I found myself taking my regulators in for service and realized that I hadnít even gotten a chance to use them since they were serviced the year before. One thing that was consistent though was that the years did pass.
In 1997 I got a chance to move from Northeast Ohio, where the diving was limited, to Macomb County, Michigan where you can dive everyday if you wanted to. 1997 was one of those years that no diving took place. With the move, a new job, and getting settled I didnít have much time to find a dive shop or a dive buddy. As 1997 wound down I started checking out all of the dive shops in the area (where I came from there was only 2 within a 60 mile radius). It was in one of these shops that I came across a flyer for the Michigan Sea Snoopers dive club. Coincidentally their meeting in January of 1998 was going to be held at that dive shop. Well I attended that meeting & joined that night. I canít say enough good things about the members of this club. They are all very friendly and go out of their way to make new divers feel safe & welcome.
Many of the Sea Snooperís events are family events and of course I took the whole family to these (our second son Aaron was born in 1995). During these events I noticed Shawn seemed to be getting more & more interested in the actual diving. In 1999, when he was 12, he got a chance to attend a Discover Scuba class. I think he was hooked from then on but I didnít push him because I new that the decision to get certified had to be his own and not something he felt he had to do to please me. I didnít say any more and neither did he until the summer of 2000. He had grown quite a bit and was 13 now. One day he asked me if he could take the open water class. I explained to him that there is a lot of reading & studying involved and there would be a test. Shawn has never been much of a reader and this worried me, but he assured me that he wanted to do this and he would do whatever it took. We signed him up and he started on his book. I canít begin to tell you how impressed I was with him. He studied all day long. He would even call me at work with a question or to tell me how far along he was. He had a few problems with the "skills" in the first pool class and started to doubt himself, but with some support and encouragement he got through them all with no trouble at all. Then there was the test anxiety. He was convinced he was going to fail the test. No matter how much I encouraged him he was really worried about "the test". I quizzed him and he knew all of the answers so I new he would do fine, but even after it was over he was sure he had failed it. I should point out that at 13 he was the youngest person in the class. Then came the results. He had scored in the 90ís and only one other person in the class had scored higher. All he had left was his open water dives. Those came on July 31 and August 1, 2000. He admitted that there was some anxiety on the first dive. He told me the "skills" went well but when it came time to leave the training platform he was quite reluctant. After some "gentle persuasion" from his instructor he left that platform and embarked on a life long adventure.
Words could never describe to you how proud of him I am. He made his own decision to become a certified diver. He did the reading and the studying on his own. He asked a hundred questions (which I must admit caused me to think about some things that I hadnít thought too much about since 1986), and he completed the open water dives all on his own. He is now the youngest member of the Michigan Sea Snoopers dive club. 2001 will be his first full dive season. He is anxious to get started and we are both looking forward to a great summer.
I never dreamed that the baby my wife was carrying back in the summer of 1986 would grow up to be my dive buddy. Someone I would trust my life to, and make no mistake, he is a good diver and I do trust him to handle the situation should an emergency ever arise.
My youngest son just turned 6. We were in the dive shop the other day and someone mentioned that in just two years he would be eligible for "Bubblemakers". I donít know if he will have any interest in diving or not but I will just treat him the same way I did Shawn, and if he does decide he wants to become certified too I may just end up with my own dive team. God has truly blessed me with a wonderful family and has allowed Shawn and I to become part of another great family, The Michigan Sea Snoopers.
Dive Safe and God Bless You All