by Dr. Thomas Powell:
Scuba diving is a sport in which there are very few strangers. Most divers can remember the fun evenings at the bar or restaurant after long days of diving. Everyone in those memories is smiling, buying rounds, and telling tall tales. Simultaneously, that lone diver seeking a buddy while on vacation rarely has trouble finding someone willing to tag along. The reality is that scuba divers are often a merry bunch of people helping each other out and making sure everyone has a good time.
Aside from the shared adventures, storytelling, and buddy support that divers provide, the dive community as a whole is full of people who work hard to help others. The first example of genuine care can be seen in the disability programs developed and put forth by various training agencies. Scuba Diving International (SDI) maintains the Scubility program that allows individuals with differing disabilities to learn to scuba dive. Even those with quadriplegia, paraplegia, or no eye sight can learn to dive with buddy assistance. As this program grows and more instructors develop education in this realm, more and more individuals will get to experience time underwater. These potential students are individuals who otherwise may never get such an opportunity. The Scubility program is one that opens doorways for people and gives them a shot at a sport that they may have believed was lost forever. SDI is hosting a Scubility Diver and Instructor Program this November just before DEMA!
Find out how you can get involved with Scubility »
The veteran community is another realm in which many individuals face issues or concerns that traditionally may preclude potential students form learning to dive. All around the United States, dive professionals and dive facilities have opened their doorways to veterans and veteran-based programs in an effort to share scuba diving. Essentially, assistance-based programs have been developed and refined to ensure veterans with disabilities get the chance to seek proper medical approval and potentially discover the opportunity to dive. In many cases, these programs are difficult to set up and require dive professionals to spend extra time and effort to ensure that disabled veterans are provided with a quality education option with the support of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. These acts of support are what grow the scuba community and show divers that there are people out there who will help you find a way to learn if the opportunity can be discovered in a safe manner.
Even within the public safety community, efforts are made to help others. Many public safety dive teams provide community education days where children are invited to see and touch dive gear in an effort to help them understand how public safety personnel, especially divers, can help the community. The truth of the matter is that public safety divers are always working to help others. These divers volunteer to dive in terrible conditions to help perform rescues, solve crimes, or even protect the environment.
The reality behind divers helping others is that it starts at the local diving level. In recent months, I had the opportunity to see two local dive master candidates partake in a shop-based scavenger hunt. The two divers worked hard to recover plastic coins that could be traded for merchandise during a raffle. When the time came to cash in, the two divers selected items that they could give to a local young lady who suffered from various disabilities. Once others realized what they were doing, an instructor candidate at the dive site walked to his truck and retrieved a megalodon tooth to give to the young lady. Similarly, the dive shop employee running the raffle took all of the merchandise not selected in the raffle and handed it over as a donation. In an afternoon, four divers who could have had fun and earned some “swag,” chose to give instead. This attitude is what is great within the diving community.
In a similar instance in recent months, I watched a dive shop owner provide a FREE wetsuit to a young lady in need, and a renowned professional photographer provided time and photos for a family he did not know in his free time. The scuba community is one where there are no real strangers. Divers at all levels love to share knowledge and experience. Similarly, the community often bands together to support causes, friends, and those in need. The objective should be to expand this mindset and work to make the dive community even more open, friendly, and accepting. As you travel, explore, and continue your dive adventures, ask yourself how you can help others, and make diving that much better for those who love, or may one day love, the sport.
– Dr. Thomas Powell
Owner/Instructor Trainer – Air Hogs Scuba, Garner, NC