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Scuba Rangers – Creating Confident Young Divers

By Ingrid on 7/28/20

A success story from our Dive Master Instructor, Mark Duvall

Can you imagine what it would have been like to be dive certified at age ten? While most of us get certified well into adulthood, SSI standards allow for kids to get certified by the time they reach double digits. Depending on the ten year olds you know, that number might seem a bit young, but thanks to the Scuba Rangers program, by the time they take their final tests they are often more confident than the adults in the room. 

The Scuba Rangers program gives kids as young as eight years old the chance to learn what it’s like to dive through hands-on practice and real-life diving scenarios.  Scuba Rangers go through most of the Open Water Certification skills except for a few emergency skills, and spend an cumulative 30 hours underwater on breathing apparatuses while refining their basic dive skills. 

It’s important to note that the Scuba Rangers program is not a dive certification course (they don’t get the official SSI cert card required by dive operators), rather, it gives eager young people a jump-start so by the time they turn ten, they are ready to take the official SSI open water certification course. In fact, most of our Rangers go the distance and become avid divers!

Rangers learn scuba skills and life skills.

Think you could put your scuba unit together while blindfolded? Rangers can! They also practice underwater construction, simulate night dives with the pool lights off, and navigate underwater slalom courses through an artificial kelp forest. All of the skills learned through Rangers practice makes students more comfortable when they start their official dive certification course. 

In addition to the official scuba skills that Rangers learn, students gain life experience in areas like risk-taking, responsibility, consequence, and teamwork. While (most) adult divers have a handle on these skills, they can be challenging concepts for young kids to confront, sometimes for the first time in their lives. The confidence that they gain through learning about the equipment and skills it takes to thrive underwater has proven to translate to other phases of their lives.

For Cole, Scuba Rangers changed his outlook on life. 

I have personally witnessed a remarkable personal growth in one of my Rangers during his time in the program. Cole (name has been changed) had just turned nine when his parents brought him to his first Scuba Ranger class as a birthday present. His dad confided to me that Cole was having problems at home and in school – he was simply tuned out. 

Sure enough, Cole had a hard time focusing during his first classroom experience. I had to spend extra time in the classroom with him to understand the important concepts we were covering. We got through everything over time, spent about a half-hour setting up gear, and then got in the water for a few skills. By the end, his interest had been piqued. 

The next week, the family showed up 15 minutes early because Cole wanted to spend more time in the water. He had already finished the day’s homework assignment and the following one. He paid attention in class remarkably – we even got through the classroom material early, and Cole was able to spend extra time in the water. During our second session, this young kid followed every instruction without fail. We enjoyed over an hour practicing skills and playing underwater Frisbee. 

This level of focus repeated for the next eight weeks, along with the positive attitudes of the rest of his Scuba Ranger buddies. Cole completed his Level 1 Scuba Ranger and was even able to spend some time underwater with his dad. It wasn’t long before Cole enrolled in the Level 2 Ranger program, where he excelled through the next 10 weeks. He had the time of his life, and his parents were thrilled with his change in attitude and his improvement in school. Cole and many of the other Rangers continued on to Level 3 - the final level. At the completion of the course, his parents, grandparents, and a teacher showed up for Cole’s graduation, the whole family beaming.

Cole’s fascination with diving and the ocean continued as he participated in the school’s science fair. He created a project on Boyle’s law, which deals with the volume of gas/air decreasing as external pressure increases while descending in water. We filmed his experiment that showed the effects on balloons in water.  Cole recorded the data and made a short movie that earned him a 1st place award! His parents were proud of their son for stepping up to challenges with new enthusiasm. Best of all, the family showed up at Ocean First on the morning of Cole’s 10th birthday to sign up for his Open Water Certification class. 

While Cole’s experience is a special story of personal triumph, it’s not uncommon for our young Rangers to experience personal growth as they move through the program. Scuba Rangers is a special program full of skill and confidence-building, where young people learn not only ocean survival, but so much more. As I said, imagine being dive certified at ten year old with a full lifetime of ocean experiences lying ahead. I didn’t certify until I was 30 years old.  Now, with over 2,200 dives, I only wish had started so much earlier. 

Interested in signing up for Scuba Rangers? 

Scuba Rangers starts with a five-session developmental program that sets the foundation for scuba skills. Once your child has completed the first developmental program, they can participate in single-day Ranger Specialty programs to earn their Intermediate, Advanced, and Master Ranger certificates. Visit the class page for more information.

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