Do you have a scuba mentor

go proAs a new PADI OWSI or dive master are you continuing your relationship with your scuba mentor or shop? Or are you going out solo?  That is always the question that a new PADI OWSI will struggle with as they await the paper work to be completed and arrive with their brand new shinny black card.

It has been an interesting month for me, watching a new PADI OWSI working with their first class solo, that is without me leading them in conducting the class as well as working with some students that were given a referral from an independent OWSI to go do their open water check out dives that didn’t feel ready to go to open water and wanted a little more practice. Yes, you can say it has definitely been more than interesting.

Altitude divingThe other night as I was with our 3 new dive master candidates we were discussing the role of the dive master and the role of the shop/instructor.  We talked about how our roles have grown from that of student and teacher to that of a new professional and their scuba mentor.  The new dive master and even the new OWSI are qualified to lead and teach from the moment they graduate; much like a newly minted MBA is ready to take on the business world. And they will probably do very well and be successful.

But, there is so much more to teaching any scuba class and while true that experience is the best way to gain the experience and confidence in any profession having a scuba mentor or 2 can help the new OWSI and dive master grow.  Having a scuba mentor to talk over things that happen in a class can be instrumental in your growth as an OWSI or dive master. In our programs we try and have you work with as many real students as we can, because while role playing scenarios with other candidates is fun and a learn tool, working with real students and real problems and yes real fears will ramp up the learning curve as you progress and learn and grow.

Talk with your instructor/ scuba mentor about the opportunities for you to co-teach or the possibility of you going the staff at the dive shop. Check out the PADI pro site for teaching opportunities in the island where you can gain experience and work closely with experienced instructors. The world awaits you as does your mentor.

scuba mentorIf you are ready to join the scuba professionals join us for our next PADI social night on April 30.  The theme of the night is “Living the Scuba Dream”.  See you there

My journey to PADI OWSI and beyond

owsiHonest, I never intended to ever be a PADI OWSI (Open Water Scuba Instructor). I was happy and content to be making loans and playing golf and not really into the thought of basically changing my career and life to be Scuba Joe.  So how did I get here?

Well, it started with when I met Donna. See we made this deal, I would get certified to dive and she would learn to play golf.  Sounded like an easy plan and would give us to different hobbies to enjoy.  Then sometime in 2004 she decided that she was ready to become an instructor. Me? I was happy taking two trips a year and doing 20 or so dives and then playing some golf. Then in early 2005 after she passed her instructor exam the thought popped into her head that I should at least become a dive con/assistant instructor so I could help her with her classes and maybe it could be something we could do as part time work at retirement. I firmly dug in my fins and said I wasn’t really interested in that.  Then in 2007, my fins came out of the sand and I began my training.  After all, I was tagging along and going to the crater and helping out any way.

Back in 2003 on a Windjammer after a day of diving in Bonaire, we were sitting with some new friends and munching on a bag of fries from Whataburger, laughing and joking about being retired and “working” at a dive shop on some island.  My friends it wasn’t anything other than people sitting around and having a little fun.  But 4 years later, here I am starting my training on the way to OWSI. Then later that year (2007) the owner of the shop was in a horrible accident, Donna became the lead instructor and I her trusty second.  Donna even mentioned to the owner’s wife that if they decided to ever sell the shop she would be interested in purchasing the business.

storesideSometime in the summer of 2008, the phone rang. That phone call changed everything.  The shop was officially for sale and would we like to buy it? To make a long story as short as I can and to keep this post under 10,000 words, we officially took over on December 1, 2008.  We had 2 instructors and 1 assistant (me).  Shortly, after that Anthony finished his assistant instructor rating.  But, Donna was doing all the classes and with her job at the state requiring her to travel and teach almost constantly, we need to add a few more instructors to the team.

About a year or so later, PADI walked in the door and well made an offer that we could not turn down.  If we would switch from our current training agency to become a 5 Star PADI dive center, they would bring me and 2 others to OWSI. Again, I really had no desire to take on OWSI, but in order to help grow the shop and help Donna with the teaching load we walked through the door that PADI had opened for us.

What started out as a fun conversation in 2003 off the Island of Bonaire has become a self fulfilling dream of sorts. Maybe someday I will find myself updating this post from some tropical island and wonder how I got there.

lift bag

My journey to PADI OWSI by Jeff Morehouse

jeff PADI OWSI30 days in Vietnam? How in my scuba journey did that happen? As with most that become PADI Open Water Scuba Instructors (PADI OWSI) it began innocently enough with a Discover Scuba Diving while on a vacation in the British Virgin Islands.  That was just so much fun that I got certified to dive. From there diving started creeping into everything I wanted to do and after a few trips to Mexico, I was an Advanced Open Water Diver. But diving only 6 to 12 times a year just wasn’t enough for me, so I started adding specialty classes as a way to improve my skills, but they also got me diving more and watching others teaching scuba interested me.  So, I decided to volunteer to do things at Scuba Joe’s just so I could hang out at the dive shop.

Becoming a PADI OWSI was sort of on my radar to do, when the time was right, but then something happened that changed my life and waiting for “the right time” was over.  Do what you dream of before it is too late to do it! So, I began my Dive Master training with the goal of seeing the world and leading dives. After completing Dive Master, I soon realized that what I really wanted was to be a PADI OWSI.  After some soul searching and talking to friends I decided to go for it and started my path to PADI  OWSI. First becoming an assistant instructor and then the IDC, the most interesting and challenging week or 2 weeks that you will ever spend with some new friends.

Do you remember in the PADI Open Water diver video, the saying “meet people, go places and do things”? Well, I took that to heart and made it one of my little goals. So, after getting my PADI OWSI I started looking for opportunities in places I had never been nor even thought I would go, sending out emails from the listings on the PADI Pro site and then it happened, a response from Rainbow Divers in Vietnam. The next day everything went into storage and off I set.

Since that day, I have meet and made some new and amazing friends. Even the toughest day is still incredible. A few weeks ago I went to lunch and got lost on my way back and wound up in a residential area. You know what they do on their day off? The same thing everyone does, I could have been in Glenwood Springs that Sunday afternoon.  Kids in the street, people washing their scooters.  Similarities bring a common bond and we can all share in the fun.

jm padi owsiI have been lucky enough to go diving 12 days in a row, teaching diving as a PADI OWSI.  Turning fear into courage, opening hearts and minds to the wonders of the world and helping to change a life for the better.

I will leave you with this and as a newer PADI OWSI, I hope I never forget this dive as I recall my first dive. As we come to the surface after our first dive my student yells out “THAT WAS $%#^%$ AWESOME!” how long before we can go again? I smiled and laughed and told him it would be 45 minutes before we could as I like to think “go home again”.  Do you remember your first dive?  As a PADI OWSI you will help people make those memories special.  In the PADI Instructor manual there is a saying, “from what we get we make a living, from what we give we make a life” and as a PADI OWSI I get to see it every day.

JEFF PADI OWSI